Tony-winning director wins support after speech reclaiming f-slur is censored: ‘Instantly iconic’

MIchael Arden

Michael Arden won the Tony for Best Direction of a Musical for his Parade revival – but was censored during his impassioned acceptance speech while reclaiming a historic homophobic slur.

Many members of the queer community harbour a complicated relationship with the word f****t, sometimes described as the ‘f-slur’. While traditionally used as an insult towards gay men, the term has recently been reclaimed by countless LGBTQ+ individuals in order to strip it of its hateful connotations.

The latter seems to be exactly where Broadway director Michael Arden stands on the usage of the word, if his acceptance speech at the 76th Tony Awards is anything to go by.

Alongside a whole host of queer victories – including Alex Newell and J. Harrison Ghee becoming the first openly non-binary actors to win Tony Awards for Best Performance by a Featured and Leading Actor in a Musical respectively – Arden’s Broadway revival of Parade snatched him the Tony for Best Direction of a Musical.

Parade‘s revival, which starred Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt, earned Arden the Tony during the ceremony on Sunday (11 June), and he used his time onstage to hit back at bullies and homophobes by gloriously reclaiming the f-slur.

“Growing up, I was called the f-word more times than I can count,” he said. “But now, I’m a f****t with a Tony.”

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The remarks reportedly prompted an uproarious wave of applause from the audience, including from Platt and his fiancé Noah Galvin.

It wasn’t all unabashed queer defiance, though, as American network CBS censored the remarks during their broadcasting of the event.

Although the word was seemingly too much for CBS, Arden’s speech has earned plenty praise on social media.

Elsewhere in Arden’s speech, he gave a shoutout to the wider queer community, urging them to “come together” amid current pressures.

“We must battle this. Otherwise, we are doomed to repeat the horrors of our history,” he said.

“And to our beautiful trans, nonbinary, queer youth, know that your queerness is what makes you beautiful and powerful. Everyone in this room sees you and needs you and will fight alongside you and we will win.”

The 73rd Tony Awards were notably inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. Gay actor Sean Hayes won for Best Leading Actor in a Play, for Good Night, Oscar and queer actress and ‘Angela Bassett Did The Thing’ icon Ariana DeBose hosted for the second year in a row.

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