South Carolina University has cancelled a play entitled “How to Be a Lesbian in Ten Days or Less” after a state senator claimed the show was recruiting lesbians. The show, a one-woman stage act written and performed by Leigh Hendrix, was conceptualized as an introspective look at lesbian life and identity from a firsthand perspective. According to Hendrix, the title was intended to be satirical.
However, Sen. Mike Fair didn’t see it that way, and he insisted that the show was attempting to recruit women into becoming lesbians. In retaliation for the university’s original support of the play, Fair and another senator, Lee Bright, attempted to stage a coup to oust all of the trustees of the university by voting against every single one of them during elections. He says his actions were due to the university supporting the play.
Fair also said that the play being held at USC was “a glorification of same-sex orientation.” Another senator, Kevin Bryant, referred to the show as “perversion” and said the school was misusing state funds.
SCU claims that it cancelled the show because the controversy surrounding it was “a distraction” but many noted that it was possible the cancellation occurred due to the punishment heaped on the school by lawmakers. It’s not the first time that state senators in South Carolina have strong-armed the school into withdrawing LGBT material from students. Earlier this year, the lawmakers deliberately withdrew over $50,000 in funding as a direct punishment to USC and another school for providing LGBT themed books as part of the schools’ curriculums.
South Carolina isn’t totally devoid of LGBT supporters, though. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter strongly objected to the censorship of the materials and the play, saying that the state would become a laughingstock to industry. She also indicated that it is not the job of lawmakers to bully colleges into censorship of learning materials, saying:
We are now in a posture where individual moral compasses and beliefs are being pushed down on our institutions of higher education. Do you think for one minute some companies are going to look seriously at us, when they think about their workforce coming to a state like this, with members of a Legislature who believe their job is to pass judgment on colleges of higher learning to dictate what books people are going to read?
LGBT pride groups have spoken out against the school’s decision, saying that letting lawmakers decide which areas of diversity should be accepted is dangerous. Gail Stephenson of Upstate Pride said she questions whether this incident could lead to further censorship or even an attack on racial integration and women’s studies.
There is no evidence that a person can be “recruited” into becoming gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or any other so called “non-traditional” sexual orientation. The scientific and medical communities accept that people in the LGBT community are born with their orientation and it is not possible to change someone into being gay or vice-versa. Many attempts to “convert” gay people into becoming straight, for example, have failed drastically, and such programs are recognized as harmful by psychiatric professionals.
Social media commentary has ranged from sarcasm to anger to humor. One commenter pointed out South Carolina’s poor educational standing, saying “South Carolina! Ranking 43rd in health, 50th in education, and nearly half (42%) of their GSP comes from the federal government. Good job, SC – someone has to be the anchor.”
Another commenter said “ If it’s so easy to recruit and pull folks right over to the gay side, then why does it take years of bible based therapy and repression to try to pull people back? Jeez…I never knew there were so many heterosexuals on the verge of crossing the line that they could be recruited so easily.”
Other commenters also focused on the “recruiting” angle, saying: “Thank goodness! We have way too many lesbians….when are we going to crack down on GOP recruiting? That seems to be even more detrimental to the country” and “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I dare say, we should cancel all of these televangelist shows, since they “recruit” people to be Christians and give money not to God, but to “non-profit organizations”, i.e. tax-free moochers.”
According to accepted science, it is impossible that a play about being a lesbian could “recruit” or turn someone lesbian, yet South Carolina University has cancelled the play due to the actions of state senators. These lawmakers have deliberately and admittedly inflicted punishment on the university for the purpose of censoring the show and dictating what college students should and should not learn. State funded censorship does not belong on a college campus or anywhere else for that matter, and Fair should be ashamed of his bullying tactics and medieval actions.
Opinion By: Rebecca Savastio