Michael Neri is a theater producer and drama teacher in London. He runs a drama academy called the “Talking Props Theatre School,” that teaches kids how to act. A few days ago, Neri got a text from a parent who wanted a refund of the deposit she had put down for her children to attend Neri’s academy. Her reason? She’s a “Christian,” and Michael Neri is gay.
Neri shared the mother’s text on the Talking Props Facebook page:
So this mother objects to the fact that Neri is gay, which is her right. But she signed up her kids for a theater class. Does she seriously think that Neri and his teachers are luring kids in with a promise of learning how to act, and then somehow brainwashing them into an alternative lifestyle? It’s also instructive that this mother doesn’t seem to have much confidence in the things she is teaching her children. “I cannot allow my children to be influenced by unconventional ideas,” she says. That says a whole lot about what she thinks about the strength of her ideas.
Neri’s response was brilliant. In a reply to a comment his Facebook post received, Neri admitted that he got the idea for what he wanted to say from an American photographer, Clinton Brentwood Lee, who lost a client for similar reasons. This is what Neri said in response to the bigoted mom:
What parent is going to reject a skilled emergency room physician because he or she is gay? The answer, of course, is virtually no one. And, as Neri pointed out to bigoted mom, good luck finding acting classes for your kids where there are no gay instructors. Comedy Central’s Jim David, a gay man, wrote in the Advocate in 2012:
Every profession has an ‘old boys network,’ but Broadway is one of the only professions in America where most of the ‘old boys’ are gay. Gay men have commandeered the business of creating theater for so long that being gay could actually be considered a career move. Gay writers and performers have dominated theater since the Greeks.
Of course, David was referring to American theater, but it’s obvious from Neri’s response to this parent that the situation in the UK is similar. Neri says that “theatre without gays is like cooking without spices.” But from what David said, it’s likely that without gay performers and behind the scenes personnel, there wouldn’t be any theater at all.
Americans should take no comfort at all in the fact that we don’t hold the monopoly on bigotry.
Featured image via Facebook