A Crying Shame

There must be some type of poetic injustice happening. So, here’s the real truth–the world is really screwed up. And all told, it’s the adults doing all the messing up. I need to let cyberworld know that there are some who create wrongs and others who spend their lives trying to rectify them. Here’s today’s example: two young men, talented and bright, perform a scene describing a young man’s “coming out” to his father. The scene reiterates the son’s revelation to several different, and sometimes violent sometimes accepting, responses from the father. No sex, drugs, vulgarity, inappropriate gesturing, nada. Powerful, moving, excellently performed (How do they do that?). Then, after confirming with 4 of the 5 judges that the scene is the top scene in the room, the boys are denied the chance to perform main stage or earn the top award for what is initially called a vulgarity (one character says “For Christ’s sake” and then “screw you, Dad”). Further investigation indicates that the real reason is that while all (we think) of the judges choose the boys’ piece, the State level representative believes that a discussion about homosexuality is inappropriate. I’m sorry, but how can a discussion be inappropriate? How can a discussion about anything be inappropriate?

“I have something to tell you…”

Don’t you want to know? If I shut you down, will it not still be true? Can I tell you that I am completely and utterly embarrassed that the person shutting this down is an educator? His rationale: “I could never get away with a student performance of this at my school; hence, it’s inappropriate.” Honestly, what if the scene were “Dad, I have something to tell you…I’m marrying a Catholic….I’m not going to college…. I don’t like the Giants….I’m marrying a Black woman….I’m cutting my hair….I’m an alien from planet 457….I’m a member of the Tea party…I’m joining the Mormon church….I’m leaving the Mormon church….I’m not gay….I’m adopted….I’m dropping out of high school….I’m a drug addict….I’m not perfect….?

In the end, I am afraid I’ve risked teaching my students a bad lesson. I believe that the “You win some, you lose some,” is a good model to help us grow. Failure is often the most important experience we have in molding our characters. How we respond to failure (or in this case, denied opportunities) often leads to great insights, new directions, or the drive to be better…the “I’ll show you” attitude. But, I trust that they understand that I really love what they did and that no matter the “award,” the fact is they should not have been discounted because of the content.

I hope they know that I am immeasurably proud of them for their work, and that my interest in understanding how this all came about is not to get them a prize, but to help the adults understand what they are doing….They are teaching these truly remarkable performers that the best really means, the best for whomever holds the power…Ah, there’s the rub. Civil rights makes civil hands unclean. And we begin again…”Act well your part, there all the honor lies.” I heard that many times today. Honorable, young men, honorable.

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