The NY Times has a great piece up today about high schools attempting to mount productions of the musical Rent. This is the first school year that a modified edition of the play — which skips bad language and the sexually explicit song “Contact”– has been available, but that hasn’t been enough for some school districts. The problem? Apparently the show features a few gay people. (Lest you think this is just a problem in the red states, the piece focuses first on a California high school whose theater teacher says he had to drop a planned production.)
I had two reactions reading the piece: First, anger that the simple fact of gayness can still be so objectionable. On second thought, though, I was kind of envious. When I was in high school in the early ’90s, a show like Rent wouldn’t have been discussed at all. The theater department at my school did a stage version of the movie Fame in which one of the characters was thoroughly de-gayed. (In our version, the aspiring actor was just really, really sensitive.) And I won’t even get into a neighboring high school’s version of Hair. (No, “Sodomy” didn’t make the cut.)
What do you think PopWatchers? Is the battle over Rent a sign of progress? Or of how far we still have to go?