A gay kiss in the musical "Zanna Don't" staged at a Connecticut high school triggered a walkout last week.
The musical was playing last Friday night at Hartford Public High School when the incident took place reports CBS Connecticut. Students from the high school's law, government, and nursing academies were in attendance.
The plot of “Zanna Don’t!” involves a high school where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuals are the outcasts.
After two male actors shared a brief kiss on the lips on stage, a group of students, most of them male and many of them football players, got up and left the auditorium.
“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,” Adam Johnson, principal of the Government and Law Academy at the high school, told CBS Connecticut.
He also noted that many students opted out of attending the play because of the subject matter.
“There are always circumstances [in organizing these programs] under which the values of the student or their family come into play," Johnson said, adding, “It’s a balancing act of individual values and the expectations of the school … [and] it was interesting, actually, seeing the apprehension."
Johnson had received calls from concerned parents in the weeks leading up to the musical's opening but he stood firm and stated that he believed it was important to show gay "intimacy" in the same way that society shows straight intimacy.
“When one teacher asked if I wanted to remove [the kiss], I said absolutely not,” Johnson said.
"Even though it's kind of chaotic, kind of wild and crazy, I see it as very successful," David Chambers, principal of the nursing academy, told Courant.com. "Our kids never deal with this, they keep it inside, and that's that nervous energy. That's why they walked out."
Johnson added, “I think that we’re at a time in history where there is tremendous focus on bullying and the way students are treating each other, and how they are treated, in school... We have to teach students how to respect and honor each other. [The students] need to learn about the diversity of the world and respecting the rights of all people. [I’m] really glad that we did this program.”
A task force created by Leadership Greater Hartford's Quest program and True Colors oversaw the production which, according to participant Louise Provenzano, aimed to bring "the message of inclusiveness and … compassion to the community" in light of "national and local stories about LGBTQ issues and bullying."
“Through humor … and music, we’re able to address uncomfortable topics and very serious issues for many," she said.
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