When Real Life’s Getting More Like Fiction Each Day

Three things happened in 2005:

1. I turned 14 and realized I still hadn’t had a crush on any boys.

2. The movie adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s musical RENT premiered in theatres.

3. I got really into the internet.

I remember hearing about RENT through some friend of mine who was only a year older but always had seemed ages ahead of me socially. She knew one of the songs — you know, the one about using love as an inaccurate unit of measurement — and she knew that I liked musicals and asked me if I was going to see it. Obviously, I said of course I was gonna go see RENT! And then obviously I had to go straight home and figure out what RENT was.

When my family first got internet, my Mom had given me this really huge workbook about websites for kids, and that workbook had suggested “Google” for anything you couldn’t find in the book. Apparently, the workbook wasn’t prepared for adolescents getting into queer musical theater — not really sure why — so when I came up short, I took their advice and visited Google.

2005 was the year I discovered just how deeply I could get into the internet if I really wanted to. Have you ever been to the 19th page of a Google search? I have; things can get really weird. That was the just the beginning.

When RENT was still in theatres, it was unrated/rated-R (as opposed to the PG-13 rating it got for the DVD release) so I knew it’d be tough to convince my Mom to let me see it. I told her it was about “equality” and “love” and left out the drug use, HIV/AIDS, and queerness. To this day I’m still not sure why she went for it.

So my mother, my two best friends from church and I went to a 9:30 showing at a theatre in Hartford. It was mostly empty, so we were able to sit in the very back row and put our feet up. As soon as the first song began, I wanted to cry. The movie had barely even started yet and I was already compelled to sob. A few scenes stand out, like one that apparently either never happened or vanished from the internet, where you watch Roger’s girlfriend April cut her wrists and slowly die in a bathtub. I remember Maureen and Joanne kissing, and how it made me feel alive when I hadn’t realized I was dead. I loved every minute. I made us stay for the credits. I left the theater speechless.

So many thoughts whirred in my head but none stuck long enough to articulate. Seeing RENT was the first time I felt seen — like I was seeing myself on screen. It scared the shit out of me. I identified with something in each of those characters: Mark and I were both watching life happen from the outside. Like Roger, I’d already begun the wonderful habit of avoiding intimacy. Mimi and I were both running from hidden pasts. Maureen cared so passionately about things, almost too much so, just like 14-year-old me, who didn’t know how to let anything go. Collins was funny, had good taste in women, and was bookish. Angel was loud and lived her truth with a vivacity that I prayed for every night. And Joanne! Joanne was Black and queer — I didn’t know it at the time, but so was I. But I did know that if I was one of the characters from RENT, I was not going to be the person my family expected me to be. I wasn’t even going to be the person I expected to be.

My mother’s always been of the “fewer words are better” camp, and after seeing RENT, she waited for our comments before giving her own. Walking through the parking lot that night, probably wearing a gross sweater hoodie that I was obsessed with, shivering because it was mid-November in Connecticut and I was underdressed, one of my friends went, “Why did you bring us to see this Alaina? I’m scared. I think the batty man [Jamaican slang/slur for gay man] is going to get me in my dreams!”

I was crushed. My Mom, sensing my disappointment in their negative reactions, said something kind about enjoying the singing and the friendships. That was the first moment in my life that I remember closeting myself.

I kept my feelings about this scene to myself.

I kept my feelings about this scene to myself.

If this scene had played out twenty, or even ten years earlier, that would’ve been the end of it. But it was 2005. The internet existed, a closet-free utopia cloaked in anonymity, where thousands of queer kids were finally finding a space to be themselves.

Still, looking back, early 2000s technology feels so weird and primitive compared to now — flip phones with color screens were still only something for rich kids. We’d had computers in our home for a while, but it was just a bulky thing that my Mom used to check her e-mail. We were still bringing floppy disks to school, not flash drives. All of my friends that year had gotten $50 10GB mp3 players for Christmas or their birthdays. The internet still felt mysterious, and it was weird to say you’d made friends online in a way it’s not these days, now that the internet has become a primary way of communicating and maintaining friendships.

The internet habits I cultivated in 2005, once my family finally upgraded our dial-up service and began using “high speed” DSL, had a lot to do RENT and the community I formed because of it. I was awkward awkward awkward, fat and picked on, and 100% not interested in boys. I spent my time reading American Girl Magazine, doing homework, yelling at my brother and reading lots of young adult fiction. A field hockey dispute made me an outcast at the school I attended in 9th grade, so I went online to find other teenagers who were bookish and loved RENT, and doing so provided me with a sense of connection I couldn’t get in real life. Combine that with the fact that my mother worked until at least six every night, leaving my brother and I alone in the house after school, and it was the perfect breeding ground for an obsession.

When I say I was obsessed with RENT, I mean obsessed. I grew straight out of American Girl Magazine into the world of wildly risqué musical theatre. My mother tended to encourage the things I was interested in, but this one… well, it baffled her a bit. How could a good church girl from the suburbs of Connecticut relate to this musical? I’m positive she didn’t know that she was fueling my first full-fledged obsession when she got me the movie cast album for Christmas that year, but I listened to that two-disc album until it was ruined. I uploaded it to the the family computer so I could have it on iTunes. It lived in my boom box.


I would google “RENT Movie” and go through pages and pages of results. I found RENT fan fiction fairly early on in my search. Maureen/Joanne (MoJo) and Angel/Collins were always my favorite pairings — obviously. They were the two queer couples in the musical and one person in each partnership was Black. Joanne and Collins, at least in the world of fan fiction, helped me to see myself over and over and over again. When I came out at 16, “knowing” two Black queer people through Joanne and Collins made the process easier. I would read 10,000 word stories in 3 hours, go stretch and eat a PB&J, and come back and read another one. I had an account (which is still live and if you’re really determined, you can still find it) and began to write my own fan fiction.

Writing fan fiction was a way for me to come into my own. A lot of my life was dictated by forces outside of my choices. When my parents divorced, as the only child, I felt like I needed to be perfect for my mother. I didn’t have an unhappy childhood but, for the most part, I lived my life doing what my mother wanted to do. I just wanted to make her life easier.

But writing fan fiction? That was 100% for me. Nobody knew what I was doing because the internet was so anonymous. I got to explore topics using fictional characters that I was too afraid to try and explore in my real life. Writing about these people living such different lives from me and being fulfilled by them gave me the bravery to take agency of my own life. It was after I started writing fan fiction that I started doing things that I wanted to do because I wanted to do them. Like my hair: I’d never been into my long, relaxed hair; it was something I did ‘cause that’s what I’d always been doing, so I cut if off. I regretted it immediately, but it was a decision I’d made all on my own, which felt a lot better than regretting things I’d done to please somebody other than myself. Writing fan fiction led to other decisions that made me feel like I was in control for the first time.

My obsession kept growing until around the time I graduated in 2009. For four years, I would write and read fan fiction daily. As social media grew, we all moved from fan fiction dot net to MySpace, Twitter and LiveJournal. During one of my daily searches for all things RENT, I found Tracie Thom’s personal MySpace page — this was very early in the life of MySpace, like pre-customizable Myspace pages, early. She didn’t have many MySpace friends and probably didn’t realize I was only one of a large group of teenage fangirls who had no problem invading her personal life when I wrote her a long obsessive message about how much I loved RENT and her voice and her acting. I probably called her an “inspiration.” But it worked! I convinced Tracie Thom to be my MySpace friend.

She added me, and had a consistent presence in my Top 8. What followed was a wild couple of years which included more fan fiction (including fan fiction about Tracie Thoms the person, who was obviously a lesbian in my Alternate Universe), and a really weird couple of months where I was an admin for a MySpace page called the “Church of Tracie Thoms.”

A screenshot from Tracie Thoms' actual myspace page circa 2008.

A screenshot from Tracie Thoms’ actual myspace page circa 2008.

Most of those years feel like a blur to me, but they also feel so pivotal to the person that I am today, especially my online presence. Getting obsessed with RENT was probably the healthiest thing I could’ve had as a 14 year old confused about their sexuality. I realized my friends in real life wouldn’t be able to support me, so I found a community online where I felt surrounded by people who finally “got it.” I was so lonely in high school, especially in my first two years. But I knew that I could come home at the end of every day, do my homework, and go on the internet, where I could be reminded that the world was bigger than Windsor, Connecticut.

When in everyday life I felt like the only one of my friends who wasn’t “getting it” — everyone had boyfriends and started wearing makeup and grasping fashion in a way I still can’t — the RENT fandom helped me realize that there were other teenagers who were confused and asking questions. The internet gave confused teenagers like me a place to talk through things and a space away from adults to ask questions — even if we didn’t have the answers. In real life, adults had all the answers, but online we figured them out together. I was figuring out who I wanted to be: queer, a writer, a thinker, empathetic.

Musical theater specifically has always felt created for the outcasts, and the internet solidified my love for it. Queer men and women have been behind-the-scenes writing musicals from the genre’s inception, and theater has historically been a safe(r) place to be queer. The internet feels similar — or, at least, the internet in 2005 felt similar, before Facebook, the rise of online news, and the comment section. It could be a place for people who were marginalized to realize that they weren’t alone. Not being liked at school stung less because online there were people that would talk to me. Everyday life as a closeted black queer person wasn’t easy and involved a lot of spaces where I couldn’t come out. But the online musical theater community welcomed me and my ideas, they wanted to read what I wrote, they told me over and over that my words were important. That I was important.

When I googled “RENT” I was hoping to find more information about RENT — and eventually, what I ended up actually finding was myself.

When my interest in RENT finally started to wane, primarily because by then I’d seen the original musical production (and stopped seeing the movie as this perfect piece of work), but also because my life was taken over by college applications and auditions, the internet also introduced me to Autostraddle. I’d grown from googling “RENT” into googling things like “lesbian,” “lesbian sex” and “LGBTQ.” I don’t remember which combination of secret words that I deleted from my browser history after searching for them got me here, but I’m always grateful that it did. I don’t remember the first thing on Autostraddle that I read, but I remember feeling the same form of community that I’d found through fan fiction four years before. People were kind, funny, asking and answering questions, and talking about the things I’d hoped someone would talk about. So I stayed, and six years later, I’m still here — now as a staff writer.

I was so desperate for any form of connection in 2005, for someone to tell me “These weird big things you’re feeling are normal and okay and you’ll be okay!” When I saw RENT, I did it for my musical theatre street credit. I did not expect it it to change my life. The movie introduced me to an online community that cared about RENT as much as I did. My obsession started out as a need to know more about a musical, but it ended in my finding a community who helped me learn more about myself. Fandom communities from the internet in the early 2000s empowered a generation of young LGBTQ people. They helped us to come-of-age and form communities during a time where we were still really isolated. We wrote our ideal futures to survive difficult realities and leaned on each other for support and knowledge. I knew as soon as I left the theatre after seeing RENT that first time that I was queer, but it was the internet and the community that was cultivated there by our collective love of the movie that helped me be brave enough to live my truth. “No day but today,” right?

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Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 330 articles for us.


  1. Ah reading this brought back so many feelings and not just that I should watch RENT again.

    I think internet communities have really empowered so many people to be thier true selves. I know I’m one of them.

  2. Why you gotta make me cry, Alaina?!
    I also came of age & came out with RENT. My nightly homework soundtrack was the OBCR (and I can still sing the whole thing – not just La Vie Boheme, but the entire score). I remember seeing the movie six times in theatres and having even my most supportive, musical theatre-nerd friends laugh at me when I sobbed at Angel’s death for the sixth time. I remember finally seeing the stage version when I was 16 and knowing “Yeah, this is what I want to do with my life.” More than anything, I guess RENT was the zeitgeist of that teenage time: glittery and rough, always wanting more, feeling all the feels that you don’t yet understand. also there was one Japanese American girl in the ensemble (on Broadway) and I was v. excited about that.

    Thank you for this essay, Alaina. You are my one song glory.

    • I guess RENT was the zeitgeist of that teenage time: glittery and rough, always wanting more, feeling all the feels that you don’t yet understand.

      Amen amen amen. I was in college when the movie came out, but the OBCR and Hedwig were what kept me going when I was a closeted, miserable Catholic schoolgirl who wanted a life outside Staten Island.

      Thank you, thank you Alaina. You’ve captured internet fandom as a way to freedom perfectly. :D

      • OBCR is still my jam. It’s come around the world and across the ocean with me. *dramatic jazz hands*

    • Whenever I watch the movie or go see the production, I always think that maybe THIS TIME will be the time I don’t excessively ugly-cry over Angel’s death through the majority of the second act, somewhat pull myself together just in time for the finale, then promptly fall entirely to pieces again as soon as Angel runs back onstage/reappears in Mark’s film. Spoiler alert: For me, that time does not exist.

  3. I had to make a new account to comment on this – my last password has unfortunately been lost due to a deletion of cookies, and belonged to a now defunct email I can no longer access. Silly, really.

    Rent and musical theatre are possibly some of the biggest influencing factors on my daily life. Rent helped me understand queerness through a lens that showed queer love in just as valid and passionate and /wonderful/ a form as that of straight characters in the musical. It gave me the warm fuzzies that my then-closeted self couldn’t really explain, but made me sing and cry (and moo) along to every single scene and track with abandon, and it is absolutely wonderful to read someone else’s experience of headlong obsession with the same. Thank you so much for writing this article!!!

    My initial experiences with seeing and listening to Rent sort of laid the path for musical theatre as a coping mechanism for me in life. My first big show experience was in the midst of grieving. Wicked is a good distraction, you guys. Just saying.
    Now I’m in university – an awful long time after my first experience of belting out Rent in the back of my mum’s car on the way and wondering why Mimi was so enthusiastic about candle wax – and I spend about eighty percent of my time working in a theatre society that started as a bunch of us singing along with YouTube videos in empty classrooms and trying to avoid being kicked out by the janitors.
    I’ve directed and co-written original musicals that have sold out, forged insanely close friendships and learned so damn much.
    Best of all? Through the interest sparked by Rent and my earliest theatre experiences, I found my peer group and came out first to myself, then to them and to my family.

    Something sucky though! Said theatre group recently tried to get rights for Rent – did you know the schools / college edition is massively censored?
    In the listing it just mentions that some of the more explicit sex references are removed to allow younger audiences. However on closer inspection of a production of it we found that references to HIV and AIDS have been massively minimised and any references to homosexuality and queer kisses have been removed. How is it even Rent anymore? Siiiigh.

    If anyone wants something queer / musical to watch and kill time with -> https://youtu.be/ekH2kPbuVOA

  4. We obviously had different experiences, but oh man thank you for writing this, because at the very core of this is my 2005: discovering Rent and then getting Way Too Into It (and into the queer teenager Internet at large, with probably great results). Thanks so much for writing this!

  5. Alaina this was such a fantastic read; thank you so much for the behind the scenes tour of your obsession – I truly love reading/hearing about literally anyone’s RENT feelings because there are so many parallels for many of us as well as new expressions of devotion I haven’t experienced before.

    I felt a lot of this so hard because I also became completely consumed by love for RENT when I was 14.

    I was obsessed with Joanne and it still took me 15 years to figure out why (ha!).

    A few months ago I was stalking the Hamilton cast online and I came across a production of RENT starring
    Renée Elise Goldsberry as Mimi IN ITS ENTIRETY on YouTube and I devoted half a day to embracing memories of the emotional roller coaster that was being a teenager.
    I highly recommend tracking this down! I hope it’s still there!

    I’ve been through four copies of the OBCR and I still have the candle that Mimi from the traveling tour in Boston circa 1998 tossed to me from the stage after my best friend and I camped outside the theater for 14 hours for front row rush seats.

    Alaina, I love love love you for reminding me of a time in my life when I came across a work of art that changed me, and I am warmed to the fucking core knowing that it continued to give the same gift to kids discovering it a decade or 2 later.

  6. I’m a lot younger, so I discovered Rent I think when I was possibly 15 or 16, and while it was a wholly different environment it was still a pretty important moment in my timeline of gay, as it were.

    I think I was barely out at the time, and I was at a party with a friend of mine who had also only recently come out, and somehow a lot of people at that party were super gay (or somewhere in this spectrum), so when we settled down post-party/pre-sleep and put on a DVD, it was really a new thing for me.

    I’d always loved musicals – I saw Phantom on the West End when I was about 9 or 10, I think – but I’d never seen one before that had gay characters in until Rent. Seeing a man love a man, and a woman love a woman, and not in some tragic hidden behind the scenes way, was really new and it meant a lot more to watch than other kinds of romantic plotlines I’d seen before then.

    And then of course I’ll Cover You (reprise) brutally broke my heart, because of course it did.

  7. After watching Rent I was majorly obsessed. I knew I didnt fit in with my Pentecostal family or my conservative Christian friends but the characters in Rent made me feel like that was okay. That there were other people out there who felt like I did even if I didn’t know them yet. It was really weird because I was still in denial about the possibility of being anything other than straight, but I couldn’t stop obsessing over these queer characters.

    Fun Fact: one time I was listening to La Vie Boheme with headphones on & getting really into it. The sound was a little off but I figured I just needed new headphones. Then I noticed my mom kept giving me weird looks. Finally she was like “what are you listening to?!” And I realized my headphones weren’t plugged in all the way and she could hear the song. I was super embarrassed and just mumbled that it was a musical. She looked skeptical so I added “ON BROADWAY” because I wanted her to know Rent was legit.

  8. I love this. I didn’t see RENT until a few years ago when I was half-way through university but it had such an impact on me. And the internet and fandom as a queer gateway- that was my adolescence. Thank you for writing this.

  9. This, this, this. I discovered Rent when I started middle school, about a year before the movie came out, and never questioned why I immediately connected with Joanne until many years later. “Oh,” I thought to myself at 22, “There was a reason why the ambitious professional lesbian with a fondness for artists spoke to me!”

  10. Rent (along with the L Word) was a huge part of my queer awakening. I knew I was into girls from a very early age (around 3 or 4), but it wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I was starting to personally come to terms with it internally. Rent just so happened to come out when I was a senior and I was applying to all of the queerest universities the northeast had to offer.

    A year later, I was out to my college friends and I was with a bunch of folks similar to myself at a very liberal university singing/screaming “La Vie Boheme”up and down the dorm hallways and swinging around subway poles on the Broad Street Line in Philly singing “Santa Fe”. A year after that, I came out to my parents and for a coming out gift, my father bought me front-row seats to see Rent in Boston with my mother. Besides a meet-and-greet with Tegan and Sara, I think that was a fucking awesome coming out present.

    At the time, I really associated myself with Mark; the whole film maker/writer was me (still is), but I knew I was a Joanne deep down despite going to art school and being a creative person. I’ve always been a “provider” type despite being a starving artist. Also, who am I kidding, I’m really drawn to bisexual girls.

    • omg you just reminded me that when I was in high school I used to say that I wanted to grow up to be a starving artist because of Rent. And now I work in theater, soooo yay!

  11. You gave me so many feels. I wish I were as articulate as you when it came to describing my relationship with the internet and the importance it’s had in my life. Thank you for this <3

  12. I both miss and DO NOT miss obsessions. I miss feeling SO into something and just giving it all away to that thing.
    I went straight from American Girl to risque musical theatre as well, except I went to Chicago, AND NEOPETS! (I met my first girlfriend on neopets, and lost my virginity because of …neopets) THANKS 2005!!!!!!!!

    Anyway I had a Catherine Zeta-Jones wall in my playroom.

  13. omg the church of tracie thoms is like the best story about how precious the internet used to be.

  14. Scene: Seventh grade. Place: Hollywood Video. I wanted to get “Good Night & Good Luck” but my two best friends wanted to get the colorful looking movie with hot people on the cover.
    Two hours later, they’re making barf noises while Collins and Angel kiss and I’m staring wide-eyed at the MOST BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY I HAD EVER SEEN.
    Rent seriously carried me through middle school/ early HS.

  15. Rent was such a huge part of my coming out and exploring queerness (I was a middle schooler at the time). One of my best friends and I bonded over our love of Rent, to the point where we even started calling each other by our favorite characters’ names: she was Angel, and I was Mimi. We founded a writing club at our school together, because we knew we both wanted to be writers. When we were given an assignment in our theatre class to write and perform an original scene, we ended up writing a scene about two queer women who get kidnapped and murdered in a hate crime (we were really dark 8th graders). When her family told her that being bi was “just a phase” I reassured her that we both knew it wasn’t, so it didn’t matter what her family said. We’re not regularly in touch these days, but we still use those nicknames for each other when we do talk.

  16. I was so obsessed with RENT when the movie came out. I was a freshman in high school. I told myself fast-forwarding to the gay parts just meant I was super progressive and supportive of gay rights. Somehow it took me another five years to come out of the closet…

    also my senior year of high school my school came *this close* to doing the school edition of Rent (we couldn’t buy the rights because the national tour was coming through) and I was simultaneously the most excited I have ever been about a school related event and the most horrified because the school edition of Rent takes out the AIDS and gay kissing and drug use and it just becomes Mimi slowly dying of an unidentified disease, essentially.

  17. You guys… I still secretly run through the entire soundtrack every time I am on a long drive.
    And maybe every time I say the word “Good-bye” I sing “Good-bye Love” in my head. Maybe.

  18. I was 16 and my first girlfriend had just broken up with me because she didn’t think she was actually a lesbian. So I saw RENT a million times and then made her come with me thinking it would do the same thing to her that it did to me and we would live happily ever after. It didn’t work but even to do this day, I am sure I know myself more then she does and I attribute the significance of this movie in my life to that.

  19. And now I’m sobbing. I too love this show so much and feel like one of it’s last staunch defenders but it meant so, SO much to me and still does.

  20. Wow thank you for this essay. I was just thinking about Rent given there was a mini-reunion at BroadwayCon some time last month.

    I watched Rent the movie and that was the first time i ever saw any sort of portrayal of homosexuality or otherness on screen, much less a positive one (minus the dying), and it’s like a light went off in my brain. I finally realised how damn ghey I was, and everything else just clicked into place. This show just changed so much for me.

  21. I love this. I grew up in a small town and musical theatre showed how much the wold has to offer. It inspired me to dream big.
    It also gave me a community where I felt, for the first time, a sense of belonging.
    So I love this. A lot.

  22. I loved this article! My relationship with Rent was very different; when I was a conservative Christian college student, it was my guilty pleasure. I love musicals, and shaking my head at their sinful content while continuing to listen was the closest thing I did to rebellion in my teens and early twenties. At that point in my life I had a special brain lockbox reserved for any remotely gay content, so the character’s relationships were something I worked pretty hard not to think about. But when I was finally ready to come out, I broke the box open and Rent and so many other things came pouring out, and I realized I wasn’t crazy.

    • I come from a conservative Christian background too and I enjoyed your experience! I wish I’d done that … I resorted to ‘backsliding’ (and going braindead on Christianity temporarily, and feeling deeply depressed about the conflicting directions pulling inside of me) in order to access ‘sinful lesbian materials’.

      When I was depressed enough, I went back to ‘good Christian phase’ and could no longer access such materials.

  23. Are you sure I didn’t write this? Rent was a huge part of my coming of age and coming out. I was never big on the movie, but I was privileged to live near NYC and have the ability to see Rent on Broadway multiple times. I’m actually writing a musical about how Rent (and one person in particular) made me realize I’m gay, and how it interwove with my mental illness and almost killed me.

  24. Thank you so much for writing this Alaina. Like many of the commenters above, I was also a confused teen who really really really really loved RENT. I always thought that being obsessed with musical theatre was more for queer guys but it’s so wonderful to know there’s some gals out there too! :)

  25. Oh my god I’m crying. This piece touched me – I saw RENT with my high school GSA at a time when I was ok saying “I’m bisexual!” but felt like it wasn’t true because I was only dating cis-straight guys (there were no other out lesbians or queer ladies) and I didn’t correct my parents when they thought I was the S of the GSA. That movie transformed me in a way that I still can’t really explain. Your writing has blown me away, as always.

  26. This brings back a few memories. When I was 13, I decided to come out to my straight best friend who was obsessed with musical theater. I saw her eyes widen in response and I immediately regretted my decision–until she screamed, “REALLY? THAT’S GREAT, YOU’LL LOVE RENT!” We watched it together on a sleepover, a bagful of microwave popcorn between us and nothing but unconditional acceptance from her. Fast forward six years: we still find ourselves singing “FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED MINUTES” over phone calls. I’m smiling as I’m typing this…thank you so much for writing this article.

  27. I was 14 when I discovered RENT too, although that was a few years before the movie. So much of this is EXACTLY how I felt – connected to it without fully understanding the depth of why and how everything was hitting me so hard – right down to getting the two-disc album for Christmas and wearing it down until it skipped. It was such an awakening. I’m so glad for its existence, and that our teenage selves found it.

  28. I cant even remember how I discovered RENT (probably through Glee). I loved the movie version but seeing it performed at uni renewed my loove for it. The ‘I’ll Cover You’ reprise will always make me cry <3 I saw it on broadway for its 20th anniversary and it just means so much to me. Angel/Colllins will always be my fave pairing.

  29. Thank you! I enjoyed reading your experience of Rent which in many ways mirrors mine (while being different too).

    Young closeted queer me *loved loved loved* rent. My first exposure was my first secret girlfriend giving me the original soundtrack on tape. I listened and re-listened, over and over.

    My favourites where the two queer couples too (for some reason. Oh wait, I know it’s because I finally saw myself mirrored back). It was aMAZing to see a lesbian couple outwardly represented, and I was in awe that they had a love duet (albeit with conflict brewing).

    And I was so touched/joyed/empowered by the love duet between Angel and Collins. And their decision to open their hearts and embrace the love between even while they lived with HIV/AIDS.

    I also loved and was deeply moved by Rent’s message to live in the moment, a message I only understand the profundity of all these years later.

    I also enjoyed and was touched by hearing how powerful it was for you to see black characters.

    Don’t tell anyone, but I’m listening to the movie soundtrack on Spotify right now. ;-)

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