December 22, 2011
By Adam Bink
I will say right off the bat that I am a huge “RENThead.” I didn’t have a chance to see the revival on Broadway on a recent trip to NYC, but it’s supposed to be pretty good. I learned about the musical when the movie came out a few years ago, and its message “no day but today” and celebrating life is something that has guided me. The Pulitzer- and Tony-awarding winning musical was the first musical on Broadway to have a transgender character, and the first to tackle topics such as HIV/AIDS and same-sex relationships in such an affirming and supportive way. This song (Will I?) about losing one’s dignity in the face of struggling to pay rent, suffering from HIV/AIDS, relationship trouble, poverty, etc, inspires shivers for a lot of people:
But whether you’re a huge fan of RENT or not, we can all agree that its message of acceptance for LGBT people and those suffering from HIV/AIDS is worth something in today’s society. We can also probably all agree that artistic expression and reflection upon it beats censorship.
This morning, Andy Towle brings us the news that a local production of RENT in Coeur D’Alene, ID is under attack from the usual crowds who say it promotes “homosexuality”, vulgarity and HIV/AIDS. KREM-TV:
I have to agree with Andy: what is this, 1985? It’s 2011 and we should be past all of that. As George Green, executive artistic director says in the video, simply let people reflect and agree one way or the other.
Andy asks folks to contact the Lake City playhouse and let them know you support their production. I just did: in fact, I e-mailed George (whose contact information can be found here). What I wrote is below the click. Please take a minute to express your support for artistic expression and supportive portrayals of LGBT people and HIV/AIDS.
I am writing to express my strong support of the Lake City Playhouse and management’s decision to run a production of RENT in January.
My support is for two reasons: first, as an openly gay man fighting to end inequality for LGBT people, and as someone with friends suffering from HIV/AIDS, there are very few popular and well-known portrayals of such individuals in a positive light in a society rife with homophobia. At a time when a Michigan man was, just this month, sprayed with Lysol in public over his perceived HIV status, and a time when children across America are bullied because of real or perceived sexual orientation and even driven to take their own lives, any artistic production which cherishes life and all of those in it, no matter what your background, is important to produce for the sake of our youth who are contemplating hurting themselves.
My second reason extends not only to the tenor of a production but to all art — censorship is wrong. As you state on KREM-TV, people should reflect and discuss, not ban and censor. Only through dialogue and discussion will we grow as a society.
I do not live in Idaho, but as a veteran of seven small-production musicals (orchestra pit!), I know small productions can often only be done if local support is generated through ticket sales. As such, if the Lake City Playhouse stands firm against censorship and local opposition to artistic expression and goes on to produce RENT in January, I will purchase and donate two tickets to any two Courage Campaign members in Idaho who support LGBT-affirming artistic expression.
I am publishing this letter on Courage Campaign Institute’s Prop8TrialTracker.com in hopes that others will support what you and the Lake City Playhouse are doing.
Thank you for your support of the arts and support of RENT,
Director of Online Programs, Courage Campaign