Bullying | Connecticut | Education | Gay Youth | Kiss | Theatre

Gay Kiss Prompts Football Players to Walk Out of Connecticut High School Musical

A group of students, mostly male athletes, walked out of a Hartford High School production of Zanna Don't after a gay kiss made them uncomfortable, CBS Connecticut reports:

RodriguezZanna Don’t!” depicts life at the fictitious Heartsville High, where students with academically-charged interests sit atop the popularity echelon while football players are the outcasts, and heterosexuals must conceal their sexual preference to avoid public scrutiny.

During the show, two men in the cast share a brief kiss — a lip lock that became a great point of contention.

“There was a public walkout by a bunch of students (when the kiss happened) … mostly male,” [Adam Johnson, principal of the Government and Law Academy] said. “It was visually evident (due to the jerseys the team was wearing) that a lot of football players got up and walked out. It was almost a symbolic kind of thing.”

The school reportedly told parents in advance of the gay content in the play, which was planned to coincide with GLAAD's Spirit Day, taking place tomorrow. The announcement prompted a visit from "a Bible-wielding parent" and lots of phone calls.

Organizers hoped to draw attention to tolerance, and I guess they have.

The production was produced by a joint effort between a task force created by Leadership Greater Hartford’s Quest program and True Colors. It was one of 16 projects available for the taking by task forces involved in Quest, participant Louise Provenzano explained.

“Our specific task force voted for this project because we believe in it, especially in light of national and local stories about LGBTQ issues and bullying.”

(image jai rodriguez in the original production)

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  1. It sounds interesting...

    Maybe the paradigm of the privileged life of a top-tier jock in High School was slipping away right before their eyes & they just couldn't deal.

    You're a big deal now, but it's almost over.

    My strategy would be to befriend the Cheerleaders. Happening chics don't like knuckle-draggers.

    Posted by: Pete n SFO | Oct 19, 2011 9:20:21 AM

  2. Well, it's clear that Hartford High School has identified an issue which needs to be addressed among its students. Clearly they recognized their problem enough to allow the production. Now that they have so vividly exposed the problem, I hope they'll take steps to address it. You've got your work cut-out for you guys! Keep at it!

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Oct 19, 2011 9:38:40 AM

  3. Maybe they didn't like being on the top of the pecking order anymore. Well, get used to it

    Posted by: Steve | Oct 19, 2011 9:39:23 AM

  4. I'm glad the school did this. It's definitely a good way to expose and highlight homophobia and insecurity with gay persons, which in turn leads to the opportunity to educate and increase awareness and comfort.

    With that said, it's completely and utterly pathetic that a peck would lead to these football players and some other teachers and parents having a virtual heart-attack. I'm glad there were a lot of positive responses, but it's a shame that this is such a source of contention. And this is in Connecticut, not a traditional hate state. The fact a brief kiss becomes "controversial" solely because it's between 2 men speaks loudly for the society we live in and the reality of the prejudices that we as a community face.

    And looking at the comments section of the story I can see where these kids get this backwards way of thinking. But..............this is more or less reflects society. Football players and men who play the traditional "macho" sports, social/religious conservatives, is where the strongest of homophobia remains.

    Posted by: Francis | Oct 19, 2011 9:41:32 AM

  5. Would the school have notified the parents if there was a 'straight kiss' involved in the play? Get with it people, its 2011. Don't give people advance notice to complain and protest, just DO it. Gay is a part of society, ignorant parents will just need to deal with it. By them protesting and complaining, they are teaching their children the all-too-common lesson of hatred.

    Posted by: MTM | Oct 19, 2011 9:47:04 AM

  6. So why is it, that those who project the toughest image, where physical violence and injury are the norm, seem incapable of dealing with something as inane as a simple kiss, no matter the sexual orientation. It's still just a kiss.

    I guess this line from Man of La Mancha best decribes it.

    ...Blows and abuse, I can take and give back again, tenderness I can not bare... Aldonza the whore, when first confronted with tenderness from Don Quixote.

    Posted by: mytwocents | Oct 19, 2011 9:47:40 AM

  7. Homophobic jocks? *GASP*

    Well, I NEVER...

    Posted by: Rich F. | Oct 19, 2011 9:50:25 AM

  8. Maybe they found the kiss offensive because it didn't accurately reflect their own experiences with gay kissing.

    Joking aside, good for them. They can walk out of a play with a gay kiss and I can walk out of a play with homophobic vitriol or Bible-thumping fanaticism. And in the end, they only made themselves look foolish, rigid, and insecure, and all people should be allowed the free will to shoot themselves in the foot.

    Posted by: luminum | Oct 19, 2011 9:51:21 AM

  9. God damn it, What are you guys? Like 35? Sitting at home commenting on the minutiae of High School politics?


    Posted by: Fenrox | Oct 19, 2011 9:57:09 AM

  10. @FENROX,

    god damn it. what are you guy? like 35? sitting at home commenting on the minutiae of making comments about high school politics?


    Posted by: Adrian | Oct 19, 2011 10:03:25 AM

  11. Okay, so when does the football/basketball game walk-out happen? I mean, that seems like a reasonable way to not only show these players how disrespectful and asinine their action was, but to also show solidarity with the people who had their performances interrupted by kids who probably enjoy more privileges than they should because of their athlete status. Just a thought.

    Posted by: Jesus | Oct 19, 2011 10:04:20 AM

  12. the walkout was planned way before the musical ever started. they waited for the kiss to do it.

    it's so obvious.

    Posted by: truthiness | Oct 19, 2011 10:14:51 AM

  13. Adrian, That isn't irony.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Oct 19, 2011 10:34:01 AM

  14. I think that a more appropriate way to celebrate GLBT people's would be to have a serious and open discussion with high schoolers that involved stable gay married couples rather than a stereotypical musical extravaganza.

    I love musicals. I love RuPauls Drag Race. I love flamboyant Johnny Weir. Do I think that any of these things are going to "click" with high school students and suddenly make them give up their homophobia?


    Having a dialog between adult gay men and women in a smaller classroom setting with kids would have worked much better.

    These are high school students after all. Had someone told me that a musical called Zanna Don't was going to be performed in a high school environment to shed light on bullying I would have predicted worse than just a walk out.

    Kierkegaard said that the "who" the "how" and the "what" all must align to communicate. It could be the best darn musical production in the world and at best you would get kids to sit through it and then say horrible stuff afterwards and tease the gay kids even more.

    Why not do a program like DARE where someone comes to the schools to talk to individual (smaller) classes about bullying and gay rights?

    Posted by: Rin | Oct 19, 2011 10:34:49 AM

  15. @FENROX,

    your first comment was a brilliant example of:

    1. pot v. kettle
    2. trolling

    choose your pick. gtg before i get caught feeding trolls. adios!

    Posted by: Adrian | Oct 19, 2011 10:47:22 AM

  16. Though we have a long way to go, this is wonderful! There was a gay kiss that everyone got to see, including the "jocks." Once, people see it, they realize that it's not a big deal.

    Of course, these "jocks" are at that point in their lives where they're scared to death of appearing gay to their peers - and thus, they feel they have to proclaim their straightness by pulling stunts like this. Not a shock.

    I guess I'm happy that a show like ZANNA DON'T is even getting performed at a High School at all!

    Posted by: Tonic | Oct 19, 2011 10:57:01 AM

  17. Why are they watching plays in the 1st place anyway? Is this compulsory?

    Posted by: Helli | Oct 19, 2011 11:02:02 AM

  18. My first reaction is to think that these particular football players are insecure idiots.
    But then I also recognize how the media tends to often blow a story up into something it was not by including only very vague details.
    What is "a bunch of" students? Were there 96 students who organized this "walk-out" as a protest? Or was it more like one guy with a football jersey whispered to his two friends, "This play stinks," and the other two said, "OK, let's go get some chicken wings."
    And how diverse was the source of phone calls from parents? Was it ever determined that they all came from more than one family?
    It also seems to me that the school kind of invited a reaction by forewarning of gay content. At least I'm glad they stand by their anti-homophobia stance.

    Posted by: Gregv | Oct 19, 2011 11:05:25 AM

  19. Adrian, 2nd comment totally trolling, you can't mention irony on the internet and not troll.

    1st comment is actually a cute and witty turn of argument, you don't have to like it, but you do have to bow to awesomeness of it.

    (I really enjoy that you aren't getting any of these references.)

    Posted by: Fenrox | Oct 19, 2011 11:09:53 AM

  20. Life is full of people doing things you don't want to see. Wait till you graduate boys!

    Posted by: Jack M | Oct 19, 2011 11:18:52 AM

  21. Completely serious question

    Do you guys feel that of all the things that could be done to promote equality and to target bullying that this play is the most effective thing the school could have done?

    It seems the most publicity worthy but I'm not sure that this play will do anything to change minds and attitudes in the high school.

    I'd love to hear opinions as to why people think this is effective. I still volunteer at the school I used to teach at and was considering sponsoring a debate.

    Posted by: Rin | Oct 19, 2011 11:46:26 AM

  22. Sounds like these football boys need to spend a little less time on football and more on growing up. In any csse, they will get used to seeing same-sex couples kiss.

    Posted by: Chris Vogel | Oct 19, 2011 11:50:07 AM

  23. Why on earth would there be a need to inform parents that two guys would kiss in a school play?

    And, yes, obviously these jocks coordinated this in advance. It's the same mentality which leads them to always gang up three to one on the kids they bully.

    Best thing to do is simply to ignore them.

    Now, this little spat between Adrian and Fenrox, that has potential for a high school drama.

    Posted by: enough already | Oct 19, 2011 11:50:47 AM

  24. Who's 35?

    Posted by: gregory brown | Oct 19, 2011 12:00:24 PM

  25. I'd love to see this play/musical here in Key West. Folks, bring it on down here!!!!! We can use it here too!

    Posted by: Alan Arthur Chiras | Oct 19, 2011 12:16:36 PM

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