We know that of the two relationships Maureen had in Rent, she is happier when she is with Joanne. And with Joanne, she can be her true self.
When I was thinking about what to write about for Bi-Sexuality Visibility Week, the idea came to me: I would take a character from one of my favorite shows who happens to be one of the more popular Bisexuals in musical theatre, and make her the center of discussion.
Rent is a musical with music, lyrics and script by Jonathan Larson. The piece, based on Puccini’s opera La Bohème, follows the highs and lows of a group of bohemian friends over the course of a year in New York City during the 1980’s. Set during the height of the aids crisis, almost all of the lead characters have the disease or are HIV positive.
Maureen is the actress who stages a protest against her friend and former roommate Benny’s new building, The Cyber Arts Studio. Her grief is with the homeless getting evicted from the abandoned lot of the soon-to-be new building. She takes matters into her own hands and she tries to fight the injustice she sees with the place that Benny wants to build.
We know from the start of the musical that Maureen used to date Mark and the two of them have a deep history together. Maureen is not currently dating Mark during the time of the musical, however there are references to their prior romantic relationship when Maureen used to live with Roger, Benny and Mark and how the two of them would always remain friends. Throughout Rent, Maureen is on-and-off-again with her girlfriend Joanne.
Maureen meets Joanne after her breakup with Mark, and unlike her time with him, it seems like with Joanne, Maureen can now express her full identity. She is a character that has feelings for both men and women, and now that she is with a woman, she doesn’t have to hide being bisexual or hide her true individuality. Maureen is a very open and sexual character, which caused some issues with Mark but seems to be appreciated by Joanne, providing she isn’t unfaithful. Ultimately, Maureen has met a woman who loves her for her and she can do so with no shame of her own self-love.
Joanne is a lawyer and is used to interacting with both extroverts and introverts. Maureen is an extrovert I would say, because she is so open with her thoughts and feelings and she puts herself out there similar to how an extrovert would. Joanne seems to understand how Maureen operates more than Mark did, allowing her to be happier with Joanne, although not without their issues causing them to be on-again off-again throughout the show.
Breaking up with someone and then getting back together with them, after some time apart to think and grow, as well as improving yourself as a person is not always a bad thing. By the end of the musical, Maureen and Joanne are back together and that seems to be the best thing for both women. Maureen is one that flirts with others, men and women alike, but she would not go back to Joanne if she wasn’t the woman she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. The push and shove of their relationship brings Maureen back to Joanne time and time again. Joanne might not be a perfect woman, and neither is Maureen, but Joanne makes her happy and pushes Maureen to be a better woman.
If you don’t already know the musical Rent or Maureen’s character, I hope this inspires you to learn more about the show from which her story is told and inspires you to find happiness in whatever relationship allows you to be your truest self!
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus