A group of North Carolina high school students are crowdfunding their school play on the Internet, and it’s not because their school is running low on money. According to their crowdfunding campaign, it’s because the play was cancelled for its LGBTQ content.
Almost, Maine includes a romantic scene between two men — a scene that the Maiden High School Kickstarter page describes as “chaste” and sexless. The students gained permission from their school superintendent and parents to perform the play, and went so far as to pay $350 for the performance rights before the Maiden High principal met with a local church and cancelled the production.
The school’s official explanation was that the play contained “sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with [the school’s] mission and educational objectives.” However, the original author of Almost, Maine, John Cariani, has rallied behind the students, explaining that the scene in question contains no swearing or sexual contact. He writes, “It’s a sweet, chaste, funny scene that explores the precise moment when a couple of young people—both of whom happen to be guys—fall in love.”
If anything, the cancellation of Almost, Maine is even more reactionary than the Pennsylvania high school that banned the Monty Python musical Spamalot earlier this year. That show contained a same-sex wedding, which was apparently too much for the high school principal to cope with, despite the fact that same-sex marriage had been legal in the state for several months.
The Maiden High drama group’s Kickstarter page draws understandable parallels between the small-town setting of Almost, Maine and the students’ real experiences of living in Maiden, N.C. Like Pennsylvania, same-sex marriage is legal in North Carolina, but Maiden is a conservative town.
Based on the principal’s explanation that Maiden “isn’t ready” for a play like Almost, Maine, the students are accusing high school administrators of “calling into question the validity of same-sex love by making it seem wrong” and “tacitly promoting homophobia.”
The Kickstarter campaign has gained plenty of attention from supporters of LGBTQ rights, raising more than six times its $6,000 goal. The excess money will be split between a local LGBTQ youth outreach center and various local arts organizations.
Photo via Kickstarter