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)

Comments

  1. Pete n SFO says

    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.

  2. Alex Parrish says

    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!

  3. Francis says

    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.

  4. MTM says

    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.

  5. says

    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.

  6. luminum says

    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.

  7. Fenrox says

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

    SAD.

  8. Adrian says

    @FENROX,

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

    IRONY.

  9. Jesus says

    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.

  10. truthiness says

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

    it’s so obvious.

  11. Rin says

    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?

    No.

    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?

  12. Adrian says

    @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!

  13. Tonic says

    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!

  14. Gregv says

    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.

  15. Fenrox says

    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.)

  16. Rin says

    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.

  17. Chris Vogel says

    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.

  18. enough already says

    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.

  19. Alan Arthur Chiras says

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

  20. says

    i bet these football players also adamantly are opposed to girl-on-girl lesbian porn. right?

    i mean, they’re teenage boys. who are anti-gay.
    they MUST also be against lesbian scenes in porn.

    right?

  21. Rowan says

    FENROX/FOX

    But you weren’t funny nor cute or witty?!

    RIN

    Come on, you’re from the right aren’t you? So you inherently don’t believe in teaching stuff like it’s okay to be gay or black etc. It goes against your thinking and is seen as liberal fluff, so I am surprised you are suggesting this?

    You remember being young right? Did you ever listen in class? I didn’t. I was always fooling about or not turning up. I just wasn’t that mature and would’ve made fun of something like that if it’d happened in my school, I just would’ve. Immature, I know but I’m being honest that I wasn’t one of those kids he didn’t mess around.

    So for someone like me, seeing a play like this would’ve definitely kept me thinking long into when I go home and stayed in my psyche.

    You telling me as a teacher that all gays should be treated well and me as a school kid will make some joke of it because I dont listen to teachers, what do they know? Soo not cool.

    But this being a play, means that this is bigger then my teacher trying to make us feel good. It tells me that there is a written play, out there, that shows gay are equal. It’s not preaching at me. Not given me a lecture. In fact it’s so unimportant that ‘wooaah, did you just see that boy kiss the boy?!’

    And then it’s gone. Back to the rest of the play.

    MUCH more effective.

  22. Hollywood, CA says

    @ Adrian – (Slap on the wrist) – No TROLL feeding, although you made me actually LOL!

    I’m not going to defend the football players actions, but I do have a little bit of empathy. Football is like the top GANG at a school, so even if 80% of the players were enjoying the play, all it takes is for the Alpha Male to leave, and they all have to follow. It’s survival at the end of the day, and some of the players fall in line instead of having to go through the merciless bullying. It’s hiding in plain sight, and it’s not fun for a lot of them.

    Again, not defending them, but also don’t want to label them ALL as homophobes.

  23. Fenrox says

    Do you guys seriously not see anything funny in the spectacle of this situation? It’s like people getting worked up on the plot points of glee. It’s ridiculous to be so on edge that you have to immediately distill any story into it’s potential to hurt gay kids. Do you enjoy this person you have become?

  24. says

    When I first saw the “Birdcage” at the theater, not 10 minutes into the movie several moach types and their girlfriends got up and left the theatre. Their loss!

  25. MIleHighJoe says

    I think some commentators are missing the point here. This story is worthy of discussion and analysis because high schools are an increasingly dangerous place for gay kids. That’s why we adults should be interested and involved in these silly high school matters.

    Me? I hate kids, especially teenagers. But, I find this topic to be irresistible because I lived through similar crap in high school and am convinced that it’s gotta stop.

  26. Roman Bolliger says

    It is always interesting to realize that these so called “male” athletes are really mimosa-like “sissies” without guts. To walk away just because of a kiss, really! Bully victims have to stand much more!

  27. Redebbm says

    Why can’t they stand the sight of a gay kiss, are they afraid they might like it? Perhaps they have thought about it and don’t even know how to deal with it besides the eww approach. (let theories of lockeroom schenanigans begin)

  28. jaragon says

    Football jocks grab their butts on the field in public but only kiss in the privacy of the post game shower.

  29. St. Theresa of Avila says

    I object to any high school play being about a high school, even one in some parallel universe. It has some kind of recursive banality that is troubling. But I digress…

  30. billmiller says

    They had probably planned this ahead of time knowing that it was coming. I’m sure some of them enjoyed it, but had to follow the crowd…

  31. Mykelb says

    As an out gay man, I have to see all kinds of heterosexual sex all the time: tv, movies, print magazines, online garbage. Look at the tits and ass on late night tv. If I turned all that off, I would have to turn off 98% of television. Don’t these jackasses get that? Guess not.

  32. Francis says

    No, they don’t get it. They’re jocks, meaning they are catered to their entire lives (for the most part), which makes most of them totally socially unaware of anything outside of their bubbles.

    I agree, though, that some/many of them felt obligated to leave. Unfortunately that’s the social hierarchy system in high schools rearing it’s ugly head.

  33. Rin says

    @Rowan,

    ****
    Come on, you’re from the right aren’t you? So you inherently don’t believe in teaching stuff like it’s okay to be gay or black etc. It goes against your thinking and is seen as liberal fluff, so I am surprised you are suggesting this?
    ****

    WHAT? How am I from the far right? I went door to door to get people to not discriminate against gay marriage in my state. I give money to programs that support gay youth. When I taught in a CHRISTIAN school I even begged and begged until they let us have a debate about gays and the Bible.

    What I was saying is that teenagers are incredibly immature and that having a play where the first picture I see of a gay guy makes him look like Bobby Trendy doesn’t make me think that the immature hooligans who live in classrooms will “get” the point that gays and lesbians are no different than anyone else.

    However…you are probably right that for the gay kids this gives them something that says: I’m okay.

    I just worry about what happens after in the halls…after school…in the gym.

    I’m a worry wart. Mostly, because I DO remember my high school. I remember my gay friends getting tripped. I remember one kid falling so flat that he busted his nose. I think teens are immature due to hormones, and no…I don’t always trust their judgment to inherently do or know the right thing to do or say.

    But thanks for the perspective. Something I will definitely think about, Rowan. Instead of worrying about backlash to gay kids, I will consider what it means to them to see the play.

    Again, thanks.

  34. Francis says

    OK, so based on the new reports, around “a couple dozen” walked out. So maybe 20 students? And they were primarily football players. The play is still functioning at the school but it’s now optional for students to watch or choose not to.

    I don’t think the school should have made it optional. That defeats the purpose of the play. The purpose is to open the eyes of these jocks and make them realize the world doesn’t revolve around their black and white ways of thinking.

  35. OMNOMNOM says

    Hmm. Based on the picture of the play they chose to show, I wouldn’t even have waited for the kiss to walk out. It looks like a really, really, really queer episode of Glee. *barf*