On the eve of a charity event, the Guys and Dolls star reveals a secret about his past.
By Darren Tobia
On Monday, April 27th, Nick Adams, Broadway’s it gay, hosted a charity event for Live Out Loud, New York’s up-and-coming LGBT organization, at the Chelsea Art Museum 556 West 22nd Street @ 11th Avenue from 6:00 to 9:00 pm in New York City.
The gay media’s been good to the boy from Erie, Pennsylvania. But, more or less, the interviews are all the same—they all want to hear about that Page Six article. He tries to sprinkle nuance on that tired old dish about Mario Lopez. “It’s gotten me a lot of attention, and the opportunities that came out of the situation have been incredible,” says Nick, “but its old news now—and yet, I have to talk about it all the time.”
Instead, Nick’s cooing about summertime—in spring—and you can feed off his excitement. The world is his oyster; he’s like the über-gay of New York. And as such—when you’re young, cute, talented, notorious, and have just enough money to throw around town—the city can be a real romp in the summertime.
But whether he’s chatting about dating actors (“sometimes you can’t help it”), hanging out with Brooke Shields (“she changed out of a cocktail dress into pants in the bathroom at the bar, how charming!”) or Twittering for lunch dates with ADAM designer Adam Lippes (“we’re just friends”), you inevitably discover the one unfortunate thing about him: that you can’t even hate him, because he’s so damn nice.
In a city where cutthroat queens run amok, Nick Adams’ niceness is baffling. “Why are people surprised by my kindness?” Nick laughs, “I think everyone should be nice…I don’t know…I guess I had good parents…” But he revisits the question, “…part of the persona I’ve created for myself is as a sexual object—people expect that. But that’s not who I am.”
The eve of the Live Out Loud gala is approaching. All you hear coming out of the organization is what a great guy Nick is. Leo Preziosi, executive director of the organization, remembers Nick popping by the office last week for a visit. After signing a poster—impromptu—hanging up in the office, Nick sat down for a while; the two talked. “He’s a very lovely young man; very warm, very gracious,” he says of the performer.
Doing charitable things out of loveliness, warmth and graciousness is plenty sufficient. So, beyond those virtues, there was no reason to attribute much else to Nick’s involvement. There was no conjecturing about what Nick’s personal motivations were for becoming active in his community. Why should there be? Nick is another big name on a growing list of power-gays showering support for the organization—Tim Gunn, Cheyenne Jackson, BD Wong, Cherry Jones and Alan Cumming, as well as sponsors like Showtime.
And, oddly enough, Live Out Loud has managed to blossom in a very unlikely time. A grim recession exposed a glut of LGBT organizations and a superfluous overlap of clinical and advocacy services, both locally and nationwide. To understand why, in this context, interest in the organization has surged, or why it continues to elicit such strong support, you have to know a little bit about its unique mission.
“Pretty simply, it’s connecting gay youth to role models in the community,” explains Preziosi. “When people hear about the mission, they always say, I wish I had that when I was younger, or I would love to help anyway that I can.”
The organization links high schools and colleges in the tri-state area to guest speakers and panels. And with its latest initiative, The Homecoming Project, Live Out Loud arranges for prominent LGBT folks, like GLAAD President Neil Guiliano, to return back to their high school to speak; and in doing so, find closure.
Not even Nick fully understood what the driving force was behind his participation. Then, all of a sudden, it hit him like a flash. “It’s funny. When I spoke to Leo last week about doing this, I didn’t realize what a strong connection I would have to the organization,” he confesses. “Getting excited and thinking about helping these kids…it reminded me of my past.”
There was a brief pause. Then, for the first time publicly, Nick began to detail a dark coming-out tale. “My family has always been a hundred percent behind me with regard to my career and whatever I wanted to do. And yet, I wasn’t self-aware enough and comfortable with being gay to express that to them until I was twenty.”
For many years in his young adulthood, Nick was reclusive, often hiding behind school work. He became involved with a local theater group at 9 years old; theater became his safe haven. But outside of that world, life was terrifying.
“I was fourteen years old when I thought I found someone that could teach me what being gay is all about. He was someone I looked up to; I wanted to be like him. He was handsome, talented and everyone loved him.”
At first, Nick’s parents encouraged the friendship. They thought he was a great guy—a great role model for Nick. But things went sour. “He took advantage of my situation…” he said trailing off, the lilt in his voice fading.
At the tender age of fourteen, Nick was sexually-molested by a thirty-year-old closeted actor at his community theater. It was traumatic—a big thing in a small town. The police found out, and began investigating, but because Nick was frightened that his friends and family would discover he was gay, he told them nothing happened. He denied it. The perpetrator was barred from performing with the theater, and banned from being around the youth productions. But aside from that, he essentially got away scot-free.
The day of the charity event will soon arrive, Nick isn’t feeling conflicted, and hasn’t in some time. Still, he’s feeling a sense of closure. He’s putting an old spirit to rest—the ghost of his coming out.
To varying degrees, there’s a ghost in every gay closet. No matter how a life is buttressed over time—with our careers and accolades, with material things, with networks of support, with love, addictions, with time elapsed—there still remains a vestige of the past, the terror of our youth, a ghost that, by giving back to the community, is vanquished.
For more information about Live Out Loud, or to purchase tickets to The Young Trailblazers Gala on Apr. 27, visit www.liveoutloud.info