Some people aren't comfortable with public displays of affection. Don't believe me? Consider the scene that unfolded at a Hartford Public High School (in Hartford, Connecticut), when audiences reacted to a pro-gay advocacy play featuring two boys locking lips.
The musical, called "Zanna, Don't!," is about an "opposite world" of sorts in which heterosexuals are the minority and homosexuals are the majority. In the play, straight individuals are outcasts and the most popular guy in school is -- gasp -- a gay student who is on the chess team.
"Zanna, Don't" was brought to the school by the Leadership Greater Hartford’s Quest, which is described by the Hartford Courant newspaper as, “a program for professionals that develops leadership skills." The paper also reports that the group put on the show in an anti-bullying effort that members hoped would help gay, bisexual, transgendered or "questioning youth." The Courant continues:
In a partnership with the nonprofit True Colors, one Quest team raised $10,000 to show the musical three times at Hartford High this month. The Knox Foundation and the Samuel Roskin Trust at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving gave sponsorship money.
But not everyone was enthusiastic about the show. As soon as the kiss took place, there was instantaneous clamoring. Screams, loud voices and disgust broke out and the school's football team stomped out in protest. Some people were so anxious to leave the auditorium that they allegedly jumped over seats to get to the exit.
Now, here's the intriguing part. The school's principal, David Chambers, claims that the students knew beforehand that there would be homosexual affections displayed in the play. As a result, some had asked to be excused prior to the assembly. While Chambers did consider sending a letter to parents in an effort to allow them to opt their children out of the assembly, he inevitably decided against it.
According to Beliefnet, Chambers said that he believes the teens need to develop "a sense of empathy toward gays and lesbians.” But be contends, “Our kids are not there yet." School personnel had to work diligently to prevent the students from leaving the school. Chambers continues:
“Even though it’s kind of chaotic, kind of wild and crazy, I see it as very successful. Our kids never deal with this, they keep it inside, and that’s that nervous energy. That’s why they walked out.”
In response to this, Beliefnet's Rob Kerby wrote:
It apparently did not occur to him that some of the kids had moral issues with the scene — believing that glorifying same-gender romance is wrong. Chambers’ intent was to wear down the students sense of disgust and discomfort with viewing homosexuality on stage.
While there certainly was a negative response, the Courant also reports that many students enjoyed the show and found it important to progressing discussion surrounding homosexuality. Dineily Vargas and Angel Ayala, who are both 17-year old 11th-graders in the law and government academy, said that the show actually changed the minds of people they had seen being "homophobic" in the past.