One of the very favorite roles that I ever had the privilege & joy of performing was Horace Vandergelder in Hello, Dolly! at Seattle Civic Light Opera. I also used a wonderfully funny & grouchy monologue by the same character from the source material- The Matchmaker for auditions for several years. It was a part that I was born to play: crusty, irascible, testy, vinegary, bearish, & unable to suffer fools gladly.
The Hello, Dolly! history is long, picturesque, & quite gay. John Oxenford's 1835 short farce A Day Well Spent had been made into a full length play entitled Einen Jux Will Er Sich Machen by Austrian playwright Johann Nestroy in 1842. Both writers were homosexual. In 1938, Thornton Wilder Americanized the Nestroy's version into The Merchant of Yonkers. The Broadway production was a dismal failure, running for just 39 performances. 17 years later, director Tyrone Guthrie (not gay) commisioned a new version of the play for my muse- Ruth Gordan. Wilder extensively rewrote the piece & made the minor character of Dolly Gallagher Levi, a widow who brokers marriages & other transactions, the leading role. Wilder named this play- The Matchmaker. Ruth Gordon would win the Tony Award for playing the title role.
The 1958 film version, starred Shirley Booth, Anthony Perkins (gay), Shirley MacLaine (loves by gays), Paul Ford, & Robert Morse.
In 1964, The Matchmaker became the Tony Award (what is gayer than a Tony Award?) winning musical - Hello, Dolly!, with a score by the very gay Jerry Herman & starring gay icon- Carol Channing. A film version of Hello Dolly! was released in 1969 starring Barbra Streisand (gays seem to really like her) in the lead role. The 1981 Tom Stoppard (not gay, but very talented & smart) farce On the Razzle is based on the same story.
Wilder won 3 Pulitzer Prizes: for the novel- The Bridge of San Luis Rey, the classic high school favorite- Our Town, & his satire- The Skin of Our Teeth, in which I once played a dinosaur (really). Wilder never addressed being gay publicly, but his homosexuality was a well known secret in theatre circles, His long time lover was Samuel Steward who wrote very famous & well received, for the time, gay erotica under the moniker- Phil Andros. Wilder was introduced to Steward by his friend Gertrude Stein. He also hung out with the Dorothy Parker, Willa Cather, Tullulah Bankhead, & Montgomery Clift. Wilder died in 1975, age 78.