Nonbinary Performer Justin David Sullivan Opts out of Tony Awards Over Gendered Categories

Nonbinary performer Justin David Sullivan has chosen to opt out of Tony Awards consideration, citing the organization's gendered categories as their reason not to participate. Sullivan is a trans nonbinary singer, actor, and artist who uses he/she/they pronouns. The performer has made a big splash on Broadway for their performance as May in the jukebox musical & Juliet.

"I felt I had no choice but to abstain from being considered for a nomination this season," Sullivan said in a statement published by The New York Times on Wednesday. "I hope that award shows across the industry will expand their reach to be able to honor and award people of all gender identities." Elaborating further in a conversation with Playbill, Sullivan explained, "I was told that I had to choose [the category in which] I felt comfortable, and in that process, I struggled a lot. There's nothing more that I want to empower than nonbinary people, to show that it's possible to be nonbinary on Broadway, play a nonbinary character on Broadway and be nominated, and possibly potentially awarded. I felt like I couldn't choose."

They added, "I didn't feel right being in either category because it didn't resonate with me. I decided the only thing that felt right to me would be to abstain from nomination consideration. So I will not be considered for a Tony nomination." Finally, Sullivan concluded, "I hope this is a wake-up call to not only the Tonys, but for every award show to celebrate everyone and to make sure they're being inclusive."

In response to Sullivan's position, a spokesperson for the Tony Awards issued a statement to EW. "We recognize that the current acting categories are not fully inclusive, and we are currently in discussion about how to best adjust them to address this," the statement read. "Unfortunately, we are still in process on this and our rules do not allow us to make changes once a season has begun. We are working thoughtfully to ensure that no member of our community feel excluded, on the basis of gender identity, in future seasons." Notably, the NY Times also pointed out that this is not the first time a non-binary performer has opted out of Tony Awards consideration. Previously, Billions and John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum star Asia Kate Dillon did the same, for their role as Malcolm in Macbeth.