New York City’s Jonathan D. Lovitz

Name: Jonathan D. Lovitz
Career: Actor and accidental activist
Home: New York City
Hails from: South Florida (where there is no snow!)
Favorite City: Disney
Relationship Status: Coupled (2.5 years, with a puppy)
Current Project/Up NextLOGO’s SETUP SQUAD airing April 25th, then Broadway (we hope!)
Spotted on a typical New York Saturday night: Dinner and drinks with friends; low-key but a lot of fun

Jonathan! Everyone’s talking about your jury duty experience. What happened?
As a political junkie, I was so excited to serve my first time as a juror and be a part of the system at work. When you arrive at the courthouse, you have to sit through this Hallmark-meets-Department of Homeland Security video about how lucky you are to be a juror and how honored you should feel to be a free American in the best legal system in the world. I was so onboard with being a juror until I saw that.
When I was summoned to the juror questioning room with 30 other strangers we were told the generalities of the case. After that we were asked who, based upon what we heard, would harbor reservations or lack impartiality. That’s when I made the statement that has changed my life.

Did you know you were going to do this in advance?
This was the ultimate example of going with your gut. I never set out to be an activist. Like I said on MSNBC, I’m just a young gay man who saw some inequality in the state and nation and said what was in my heart when I was asked for total candor by the judge. I sat for two full days of juror questioning, and when it was my turn, I simply answered, “I can’t possibly be an impartial judge of a citizen when I am considered a second class one in the eyes of this justice system.’’

I have never once advocated shirking one’s civic responsibilities. We have taxes to pay and jury duty summonses we must adhere to. But when given the opportunity to share your reasons for partiality, as I was asked to do by the judge, I simply stated that with those civic responsibilities come civic rights that I would not be sharing with my fellow jurors or the litigants. Knowing that, how could I be impartial?

How did people in the courtroom react?
There was a mix of responses, from applauding and high-fives to snickers and eye-rolls. I was so proud to have shared my feelings with that jury room. When we were ultimately excused, people stopped me in the hallway to learn more about how unequal LGBT citizens really are. It’s amazing how few people realize so much inequality exists.

Why is this an important step right now?
I don’t think I was aware of just how essential it is for each of us to speak up, and to do so now. Whether it’s courtroom in New York or a bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, there’s no such thing as a wrong place to stand up and demand equality. The positive response has been overwhelming. I’ve received over 200 emails and calls from friends and complete strangers thanking me for my stand. Some might say that a courtroom isn’t the ideal setting for making a fuss, but to them I say: There’s no such thing as a wrong place to speak out for equality.

Tell us about yourself. I feel like I’ve known you since you were just a puppy.  How long have you been in the city now?
I’ve been in the city, living in Hell’s Kitchen, for almost four years now. I was so lucky to have booked back-to-back Broadway national tours immediately after graduating from University of Florida, but after all of that time living out of suitcases I realized I wanted to be in one place for a while. Here I am in NYC, and the city and I are having quite the love affair.

And you have a handsome boyfriend and an adorable dog. You’re living the new American dream, my friend. What are your favorite things about New York?
I’m such a nerd, and when I’m not snuggling the boy or the puppy, I’m at the museums or reading in the park. I’m a history nut, so I try to explore all the hidden treasures of the city—one of my favorites being the NY Historical Society. They have such amazing pieces from the early Federalist period when the nation was new and New York was its first capital. Nerdgasms!

NYC is like nowhere else in the world, and what a waste to not soak it in. I’m also a total foodie (most of it quite bad for me) and love to try new restaurants. I’m growing more and more adventurous these days and finally exploring neighborhoods I used to think I needed a passport to see.

You’re a Hells Kitchen boy. What are some of your favorite places to hang out?
I feel like Vynl is my Cheers—everyone knows your name and it is so relaxed. When the weather is perfect I love to sit out all day at Mother Burger and Blockheads with my close friends and watch the beautiful boys pass by as we stuff our faces with carbs.

Favorite drink
I’m a good southern boy and a product of UF—so I love Yuengling Beer and whiskey of any kind.

You really heated things up with Vanessa Williams in Broadway Bares this summer. What was it like performing in the 20th Anniversary Show?
It was a rush like nothing else. For my first Broadway Bares to be the 20th anniversary show and to be in the star-studded opening number was an honor and such a joy (all over!). Bares is the ultimate celebration of sensuality and bodies, of all shapes and sizes, putting on one helluvah show for the most excited/loving/horny crowd in show business.

Why is Broadway Cares important?
Like the best artists, BC/EFA gives and gives and asks nothing in return. Thousands of people, from the arts community in New York to countless in need around America, are helped by Broadway Cares. I’m honored that they include me in the incredible work they do. Tom Viola and his team are some of the biggest heroes in the world.

How do you get in shape for Broadway Bares when you like to eat so much?
I learned long ago (after losing parts in shows I wanted to boys in better shape) that talent will only get you so far. Being in the best shape of your life will help even more. I went out of town to do a production for a few months and used all of my downtime completely reshaping my body. I returned in time for summer and my big reveal. Not only has my self-esteem dramatically improved, so has my resume. Anyone can get in shape and, as I tell people at the Hell’s Kitchen Bally’s, where I work out, it’s about researching/learning how to do it right so you can workout smarter, not harder. That’s the key! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, you won’t lose “dude” points.

Tell us about the Set-Up Squad  
It follows no-nonsense
Renee Lee, a dating expert in New York City and her agency “Wings, Inc.” Her company has a novel approach for people who are unlucky in dating: partnering her clients with professional “wing” women and men.

Renee’s formula for success is the belief that anyone–male or female, gay or straight–can help an unlucky dater master the vital skills to dating 101.

Any tips for dating in the big city?
Like the Genie whispered to Aladdin on Jasmine’s balcony, “Beeeeeee yourself!” So many people in NYC think they have to be some polished, pre-fabricated version of the ideal boyfriend/girlfriend. In a city full of actors, people can smell the act a mile away and have no time for it. Let people know the real you from the first minute and enjoy the ride. Dating is fun, we put the pressure on ourselves and it’s our prerogative to just enjoy the process of meeting new people (for one night, and maybe more!).

Any first date no-nos?
PUT THE PHONE AWAY! If your text is more important than the date you’re on, you’re on the wrong date.

Any first date recommendations?
Avoid the “scenes.” Trying to wow someone with the hottest club or the hardest-to-get-into restaurant may seem impressive but how do you get to know someone while you’re both shouting over the latest Gaga remix and scarfing down $25 appetizers. Keep it casual and leave the adventure for later, but don’t be afraid to hint at your wild side. Keep them guessing what may be in store.

How about for a second date?
The second (and subsequent dates) are a time to show how much you listened and absorbed the idiosyncrasies and turn-on’s of your date. On your earlier dates, listen to the wines they like, the music they dig, and movies they’re into—let their taste be your guide and find the places where you share interests. They’ll be impressed by your attention to detail and you’ll look so thoughtful.

Photo Credit: Michael Cinquino and LogoTV