When I was asked to participate in the "A Better Holiday" concert benefiting the It Gets Better Project, I said "yes" before I could even think. Why? Because without the legions of gay people who work in the theater industry, it would be a mere shell of itself.
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Performing is my passion. Being onstage is at once exhilarating, beguiling, and fulfilling. But it's hard. Being an actor is a difficult career for countless reasons, not the least of which are the inconsistency of the work (actors are the serial unemployed) and the frequent, harsh criticism to which we're constantly subjected. Actors are no strangers to self-doubt, fear, and rejection. So why put up with it? What keeps me coming back? It's the community.

The love, support, and respect the members of the theater community have for one another is unparalleled. Say what you want about us wacky drama-types, but one thing that makes our business special is our loyalty, our fierce commitment to one another, and our mutual respect. Being an artist is hard, but if it weren't for the community, it would be impossible.

It's an old cliché that gay people wind up in the theater. Rather than fight the cliché, we should celebrate it: for one, it's often true, and two, our diversity is one of the things that makes our industry unique and ahead-of-the-curve progressive. And is it any wonder? So many gay kids are bullied, taunted, and generally made to feel bad about who they are -- remember that self-doubt, fear, and rejection I mentioned? Why wouldn't they flock to a trade where there is community, where their individuality is not only respected but celebrated? I am so proud to be a member of this family.

"Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are," is the central tenet of the It Gets Better Project, and I could not agree more. When I was asked to participate in the "A Better Holiday" concert at Joe's Pub in New York City benefiting the project, I said "yes" before I could even think. Why? Because our community is also based on the idea of mutual respect. Because without the legions of talented gay people who work in our industry, it would be a mere shell of itself. Oh, yeah, and because I think this is a human rights cause worth fighting for.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teens are bullied and ostracized in epidemic proportions. It's disgusting, and it must change. We have other generations to thank for the strides we made in the civil rights movement -- but our work is not done. My generation has high expectations for humanity's progress, and my patience is worn thin by the continued presence of intolerance in this country.

The greatest thing about living in America is our freedom to choose the lives we want to live. This is the only country in the world that is constitutionally dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. Everybody has that right. Everybody. The It Gets Better Project represents all of us who support LGBT youths with a unified message of love, compassion and support. Its famous pledge is as follows:

I am proud to spread this message to the teens and adults who suffer from bullying or intolerance due to their sexual orientation. Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that It Gets Better.

I can't wait to sing in this concert and lend my voice to such a beautiful message.

Edited by Neil Patrick Stewart

A Better Holiday: A Concert to Benefit the It Gets Better Project, which celebrates the holiday season with songs of hope, will be held at Joe's Pub Dec. 5 at 9:30 p.m.

The evening will include performances from Tony Award nominee Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon), Nellie McKay, Rebecca Naomi Jones (American Idiot, Passing Strange), Monica Raymund (The Good Wife), Dee Roscioli (Wicked), Michael Arden (Big River), Tituss Burgess (The Little Mermaid, Guys & Dolls) and Max von Essen (Les Miserables), among others.

Proceeds from the performance will benefit the It Gets Better Project, an organization created by Dan Savage and Terry Miller in September 2010 in response to the number of LGBT youth who took their lives after being bullied in school.

A Better Holiday will be presented by Rebecca Atwood and Kyle Luker of The Group Entertainment.

Joe's Pub is located at 425 Lafayette Street. For tickets, visit www.joespub.com.

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