When I was 11 years old, I was friends with two sisters who lived down the street. They were a few years older than me, and they were obsessed with a musical called RENT.
I didn’t really understand a lot of what was going on in RENT at first. They played the soundtrack for me, singing and dancing along to the songs, and soon I became obsessed with it too. I wasn’t quite sure what drew me to it, but over time, I grew to connect with the soundtrack in new, evolving ways, and eventually got a chance to see the show live.
RENT was my earliest introduction to queer culture. Though I can identify problematic elements in it now, and I wish the story had been written by someone with lived experience of being LGBTQ+, it meant a lot to me to see inclusion back then, especially as I was exploring my own identity.
I remember learning that the creator, Jonathan Larson, died tragically just before the play opened.
But it wasn’t until I saw the new Netflix movie tick, tick… BOOM! that I finally looked it up and learned the details of what happened—and found out that Jonathan Larson actually died from medical neglect of the same type of chronic illness that I have.