To mark this year’s World Theater Day, actor Jonathan Bennett released a heartfelt social media post detailing how being involved in theater helped him through some difficult times in his life, including being regularly bullied at school for being gay.
In an emotional post to Instagram on Monday, the Mean Girls star outlined just how important theater was to him as a teenager by posting short clips of himself at 16-years-old performing onstage at Rossford High School in Ohio.
“I give you a video of a 16-year-old gay boy in Ohio. He has a pitchy voice, no rhythm, and can’t dance to save his life,” Bennett wrote.
He went on to describe his life in high school as an “awkward” kid whose teeth were too big for his face.
“He lives in fear every single day because he doesn’t fit in with the rest of the boys in his class,” he said. “But there is one place (and only one place) that gives him the tiniest bit of refuge. His high school theater.”
Bennett, who has been in hit movies like Cheaper By The Dozen 2 and Van Wilder: Freshman Year, said as a gay teenager, being in theater class and on stage were the only places he felt safe from the homophobia at his school, and where he felt seen for who he was.
“He actually speaks out loud and isn’t called a faggot and no one makes a mockery of him,” Bennett wrote of his 16-year-old self. “He isn’t ridiculed for being different, he’s CELEBRATED. He’s not a loser, they actually make him a STAR. They give him leading roles and he goes on to do dozens of shows for years in the safety and comfort of those 4 walls.”
To those who read his post and identified with his story of being pushed into lockers and called homophobic names, Bennett said they should know that they are not alone.
“Know that you are a star and you deserve to shine bright,” he said. “And never stop singing and dancing, no matter how good you are because it’s not about being perfect, it’s about shining your light. And the world NEEDS your light. The curtain’s up, the stage is set, all the little Jonathan’s out there... ‘You’re on!’ Happy World Theater Day!”