06/11/2013 12:21 pm ET Updated Aug 11, 2013

Broadway Shocker: The Great White Way May Never Be the Same

A story that has sailed under the "who is the latest professional outing himself" radar has created the biggest-ever coming-out buzz on Broadway.

Barry Goldberg, a backup dancer and singer on the Great White Way, has revealed that he is heterosexual, shattering one of the last great barriers in professional musical theater.

"I'm a 29-year-old Broadway dancer. I'm Jewish and I'm straight," said Goldberg, who recently completed previews with The Electric Ms. El, the upcoming disco musical based on the life of the late first lady and U.N. ambassador Eleanor Roosevelt.

With that statement, Goldberg became the first openly straight male Broadway dancer who is still active in a major musical. Other heterosexual dancers, including the former Broadway backup Donnie Amaechi, have waited until retirement to divulge their sexuality publicly.
Goldberg's announcement was greeted with an outpouring of support from other dancers and major gay Broadway stars Nathan Lane and Harvey Fierstein.

"Proud of @barrygoldbergsouting," wrote Lane, the longtime Broadway and film star, on his Twitter account. Lane, who once responded to the question of his homosexuality, "Look, I'm 40, I'm single, and I work in musical theater. You do the math," added two hashtags: "courage" and "adorable."

However, one Broadway dancer, Michael Wallace, a chorus line dancer with the recently closed Stop the World, I Hate Centrifugal Force, posted a comment on Twitter: "All these gorgeous men in the world and guys wanna mess with girls." He later deleted the comment and issued an apology.

On AMC, the Broadway and television star David Hyde Pierce, citing his religious beliefs, said that living openly as a heterosexual on Broadway was a sin and that doing so was "walking in open rebellion to God and to George Takei."

Goldberg, whom some are calling the Jackie Robinson of Broadway, sees a lot more heterosexual Broadway performers coming out.

"It's no secret that there are many more hetero men who perform on Broadway living secret lives and having to date women who need to dress like men to keep from losing their jobs."

President Obama called Goldberg to express his support, saying he was "impressed by his nerve as well as the lightness on his feet, despite being straight and white." Michelle Obama called Goldberg's announcement "a huge step forward for our country and So You Think You Can Dance."

Goldberg wrote that he considered coming out a couple of years ago. He said he made the decision to do so when his gay roommate marched drunk and without a hint of rhythm in Philadelphia's Mummers Parade. Goldberg said he was envious and frustrated.

"I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore," Goldberg said. "I want to march for tolerance, acceptance, and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, 'I no longer want to have to be well-groomed or worried about staying in shape.'"

Originally printed in The Philadelphia Inquirer

Steve Young, is the author of Great Failures of the Extremely Successful: Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Steppingstones to Success.