David Hyde Pierce Upset Winner at Tony Awards

Sunday night's 2007 Tony Awards ceremony turned out to be even gayer than expected with out, gay men taking home the top prizes for Best Direction of a Play, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Choreography, and in the night's major upset, David Hyde Pierce won Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his role as Lieutenant Frank Cioffi in Curtains.

Raul Esparza, who recently came out as bisexual, was widely expected to win the award for his role in the revival of Stephen Sondheim's musical Company. Indeed, Esparza's rendition of "Being Alive" earlier in the evening and the audience's enthusiastic reaction, seemed a likely indicator he would win.

But it was Pierce's name that was called out, and an obviously surprised and moved Pierce gave a touching acceptance speech in which he thanked his partner Brian Hargrove saying, "And my partner Brian, because it's 24 damn years of listening to your notes, that's why I'm up here tonight."

The Frasier star wasn't the only winner to thank his partner from the stage. When out director Michael Mayer's name was called for Spring Awakening, he hugged and kissed his partner, Roger, before taking to the stage where he thanked him.

The win Sunday night marked Mayer's first Tony win, but he had previously been nominated for directing Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2002, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1999 and A View From a Bridge in 1998. Many gay men are also likely familiar with his movie work as he directed Colin Farrell in the 2004 adaptation of Michael Cunningham's A Home at the End of the World.

An exuberant Bill. T. Jones danced his way up the aisle to accept his Tony Award when his name was announced for Best Choreographer, also for Spring Awakening. During his acceptance speech, Jones thanked his "companion" Bjorn Amelan, saying, "My dear companion, he stays with me. I am a lucky man."

This also marked Jones' first Tony win though the famed choreographer is hardly a stranger to accolades. He is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, and the Wexner Prize. Additionally, he is known around the world for his work as the artistic director of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and for his activism in HIV/AIDS issues.

Rounding out the group of out, gay men snagging a Tony was Jack O'Brien who won for his work directing Tom Stoppard's Tony Award winning drama The Coast of Utopia. This was O'Brien's third Tony win.

But the presence of out, gay men hardly ended there. Numerous other Tony nominations went to such luminaries as playwright Douglas Carter Beane who was amusingly thanked by Julie White, a winner for her role as the cutthroat lesbian agent in Beane's satirical take on gay Hollywood, The Little Dog Laughed.

Other well-known gay or bisexual men to be up for Tonys Sunday night included the recently deceased lyricist Fred Ebb (Curtains), choreographer Matthew Bourne (Mary Poppins), and director Scott Ellis (Curtains), just to name a few. (For a more detailed list go here.)

Additionally, Tom Hulce (Amadeus), one of the producers for Spring Awakening, spoke at length about the musical when it won the Tony for Best Musical.

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