“Love is a human experience, not a political statement.”
Actress Anne Hathaway
I live in a pretty cool community. On windy days I can hear the roar of Lake Michigan from my backyard. I feel safe walking the streets, even at night. I can walk to the grocery story and drug store and the barber shop. I have neighbors who are white and black and Jewish, as well as Middle Eastern and European immigrants. There are college students and octogenarians and large families and single parents.
But I felt a singular burst of community pride while watching our local high school’s production of Avenue Q.
Yeah, that Avenue Q. Except that while the high school version retains “It Sucks to Be Me,” it replaces “The Internet Is for Porn” with “My Social Life Is Online.” (“Make friends quick, just point and click” instead of “grab your dick and double click.”)
Avenue Q spoofs Sesame Street, focusing not on young kids who are about to enter school, but on young adults who’ve just left school and have to make it on their own. So there are plots about finding work and getting dates.
And, for one character, coming out of the closet.
Man, I can hear the hue and cry that would ensue in some neighborhoods over a character in a high school play telling another character it would be OK if he were gay. Especially since there are presidential candidates climbing the polls by insisting that being gay is so not OK that it’s just fine if this country continues to treat homosexuals as though they don’t qualify for the equal rights the Constitution guarantees all human beings.
It makes me proud that I live in a place where decision-makers are not afraid to choose this kind of material for a high school play. It makes me proud that those same decision-makers honor students who participate in the National Day of Silence to protest unequal treatment of homosexuals by not forcing them to speak. And it makes me proud to stand on the town’s main street on the Fourth of July and watch the high school chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society march under their homemade anti-war banners alongside drum corps and Little League teams.
That's what I call America at its best.
It really makes me proud, though, to live in a place where, when the gay character in Avenue Q finally comes out of the closet, the audience cheers.
Not just the homosexuals. Everyone.
It also gives me hope that some day, someone will read Avenue Q and have to ask why the gay subplot was such a big part of this production. It’s a fun play, but it would make me proud if I could see the day where people—even presidential candidates—would be appalled at the idea that there ever was a need to perform it.