Friday, February 20, 2009

It is time for Change

My heart breaks when I am forcefully reminded how much hateful, willful ignorance still plagues our world, even in the supposedly forward thinking United States.

I wish for a day when being gay was given no further thought than being straight. I wish for a time when two men or two women getting married was accepted and rejoiced in as much as any straight couple's marriage. That a time would come when two people of the same sex kissing in public or on TV caused no more of a reaction than a straight couple.

Today I stumbled upon a couple of things that once again reminded me of how far gays have to go toward acceptance. There is an amazing article regarding the backlash that some schools have gotten when they've tried to mount a production of the Tony Award winning musical Rent. The article can be found by clicking here.

Yes Rent deals with complex issues: relationships (straight and gay), drug use and recovery, HIV/AIDS. Parents and communities can put their heads in the sand all they want but these are issues that teens are well acquainted with when they reach high school. And people would cringe at the amount of suicides that occur because a teenager doesn't know how to accept his sexuality.

I responded today in message board to a young woman who spoke about thoughts she'd been having that were leading her to question if she might be bi or gay. The woman basically said that she hoped it was a phase and that she hoped it didn't mean anything. She spoke about the immature homophobia of her friends. If she does find out at the end of her soul searching that she is on earth is she going to cope? She obviously will fear the rejection of beloved friends and perhaps even family members.

Rent is a powerful work. Like all meaningful, provocative art it won't be to everyone's taste. But the message behind the play is a beautiful, life-changing one of the power of love and art. It's a message that teens like that young woman need to hear.

In fact, one of the theatre directors who wanted to put on the show and ended up being denied had wanted to mount the production as a way of educating people and fighting against the homophobia he saw brewing on his campus. Teachers had reported hearing gay slurs, and videos had appeared with students using gay slurs. In my opinion he did the absolute right thing in taking action against an attitude that breeds violence towards others. He was shot down. He was told no by an ignorant administrator who obviously hadn't seen the show.

This willful ignorance is no longer acceptable folks. The gay community is no longer quietly taking your hatred and bigotry. We will fight to live our lives. We will fight for our rights. We will not let the darkness blot out the light of love. We are powerful, creative artists who will keep challenging you until you wake up. The time for change is now.

As they sing in Rent:
There's only now
There's only here.
Give in to love.
Or live in fear.
No other path.
No other way.
No day but today.

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