Beauty and the beast of intolerance

Concerning a strange reaction to a high school production.

Carolyn Grant

I refer you, dear readers, to a Letter to the Editor, in today’s paper from Rebecca White, a woman who was proudly involved in the recent, and wonderful, Selkirk Secondary production of Beauty and the Beast at McKim Theatre. Ms. White was shocked and dismayed to find out that a female audience member had walked out of the production, calling it “disgusting”.

Why?

Because a traditionally male role was feminized and played by a female.

I am going to speak to this for many reasons, the first one being that we at the Townsman/Bulletin received a voice mail late last week from a person I can only assume is the same audience member who walked out of McKim Theatre. In the voice mail we were taken to task for not “warning” the community that this type of role reversal was taking place. The young children accompanying her were upset by it, she said. How could we let this happen?

I’d like to say at this point that if your children are upset by seeing a male role played by a female then perhaps they have been force-fed a little prejudice to even be able to recognize what they are seeing is “wrong”.

Our first reaction was, “this is a joke, right?”

But no, it was no joke.

This person was in such a rage at having been forced to endure a performance that exposed her to a “Lesbian” (her words) that she walked out and then called the newspaper to complain.

Let me first say, Madam, that you are on the wrong side of history on this issue. The National Review recently reported that: “Earlier this month, Gallup reported that 60 percent of all adults agreed that “marriages between same-sex couples should … be recognized by the law as valid.” That was the most support the Gallup Poll has ever recorded for same-sex marriages, and more than double the 27 percent who endorsed such marriages when Gallup first asked the question in 1996.”

That’s in the U.S. In Canada, tolerance for different lifestyles has, I thought, always been a little greater.

The LGBT community has made great strides in recent years, but this one incident, so close to home, is a grim reminder of the prejudice they face every day.

But let’s step away from the big picture for a moment and focus on what’s really important here — the students and teachers who worked so hard and gave their hearts and souls to the yearly musical production.

There was no attempt here to make a political statement here, simply an attempt to work around a reality. There are far more girls than boys interested in taking parts in the school musical. Not that there haven’t been some great male voices in various productions over the years, but this year they were short. So the decision was made to play the role in a different way. That’s how it all came about. No agenda, no political statement, just a small school trying to present a musical with a limited number of students.

How disappointing for them to be subjected to this kind of narrow-minded reaction. How unfair to have the joy of pulling off a successful opening night marred by hatred and yes, ignorance.

To the woman who stormed out and called our office, I can only say I hope your righteous indignation gave you some pleasure, because it sure made a lot of kids feel bad.

To the students of Selkirk and McKim, this one person’s view is not representative of an entire community. Above all, keep on singing.

Carolyn Grant is the Editor of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin