Parade of nonsense: On the 'Kinky Boots' non-controversy

In 2012, a fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a carriage so that she, the newly transformed ingenue, could go to the ball and woo her prince

In 2009, a band of free love-loving hippies encouraged viewers to enter into their age of Aquarius

In 2008, a mermaid and her fellow aquatic creatures enticed folks to the nonstop party they are hosting under the sea, where life is said to be better

In 2007, an Olympian muse came to Earth to woo an earthling into pre-marital roller skating, disco, and romance

In 2003, a pair of witches provided a tourism ad for the land of Oz, a place where corrupt wizards and flying monkeys are the order of the day

In 1997, a lawyer defending a confessed murderess sang about his efforts to free his charge from the Cook County jail

I would imagine that the American Family Association and likeminded commentators take exception, in varying degrees, to some of the themes, ideas, expressions, and fantasy worlds that each of these performances crafted.  After all, the AFA is an organization that opposes just about anything involving wizards, witches, otherworldly magic, 1960s liberals, mythic Gods, and singing inmates.

Yet I don't remember hearing any kind of rage when any of those acts performed at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  If there was any, it was certainly muted in comparison to the full-on, week-long blasting that the AFA and supportive commentators have shown to this year's performance by the cast of this year's Tony winner for Best Musical, Kinky Boots.  

This is the performance in question, in case you missed it:

In action alerts, One Million Moms campaigns, "news" stories, social media hits, commentary pieces, and media appearances, the AFA has led a multi-platform, multi-spokesperson rhetorical assault against the decorated musical, its costuming, and its themes.  Here's just a taste:

"Raise You Up" was not suitable for families for many reasons. The inappropriate act starred Kinky Boots, referencing a musical written to celebrate the differences in each other and included: (all) the men and women in thigh-high boots [mostly red pleather while others were sparkly "hooker" boots], a man in boxer shorts and men in burlesque and Moulin rouge costumes prancing around expressing themselves, RuPaul (famous drag queen) along with several men dressed in drag, transgender and transvestites, singing and dancing as an expression of "diversity" and honoring whatever sexuality you want.

The performance was sexually charged and quite offensive. Here are some, but not all of the lyrics to the song they chose to sing, to give you a better idea:

Celebrate you to elevate you!

Ladies, Gentlemen, and those who have yet to make up their minds.

Instill the truth… learn something new.

Accept yourself and you'll accept others too.

Let love shine… let pride be your guide.

Change the world when you change your mind.

Just be who you wanna be.

You're beautiful; it's beautiful.

Shame on Macy's for promoting this. We cannot trust Macy's Dept. Store any longer. This is the straw that broke the camel's back. It is clear that Macy's does not have our children's best interest in mind. Macy's needs to know that trust must be earned and once trust is lost it is difficult to get back.

SOURCE: AFA's One Millions Moms

Fox News' Todd Starnes, the man who now dedicates an abundance of his time toward lending mainstream media credence to the anti-LGBT campaigns of groups like the AFA, has also come on board, acting as if America's children are now permanently damaged because of this theatrical performance:

So let me get this straight – wearing lady’s unmentionables makes you more tolerant?

I’m always bemused by the “tolerance and diversity” crowd. The preach tolerance and diversity, but if you disagree with the tenets of their social agenda, you’re labeled an intolerant, inhumane, homophobic bigot.

There may very well be a time and a place for grown men to dance around in boxer shorts and stiletto heels – but I believe most rationale folks will agree that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is not that time.

SOURCE: Fox News

It is nothing short of loony.  For one, this is a parade, where anyone watching should rightly expect a spectacle.  Moreover, this is the current holder of the Tony Awards' Best Musical title, which pretty much guarantees it a slot in the Macy's lineup.  And also, this is a show that was a movie before it was a musical—this source material has been around for several years now, giving viewers more than enough time to prepare themselves.  If viewers were surprised or offended that this particular Broadway musical was in the parade or that it looked and sounded the way it did, then that's kind of on them.  

But more than even just those three points is the fact that this number was not even kind of objectionable.  The themes are about love, understanding, and self-acceptance.  One need not personally want a pair of these thigh-high boots to enjoy the number or its message any more than one need want green skin in order to root for Wicked's title character and her triumph over misunderstanding.  This is NYC theatre.  It is heightened reality.  It is big, brash, and loud.  Thankfully so, as watching store clerks ring up Macy's purchases would make for a pretty boring parade.

Interestingly enough, this is not even the first time that the parade has featured drag performances.  In 2007, the case of Priscilla performed without any notable pushback:

And a full decade ago, Harvey Fierstein appeared as a mish-mash of Edna Turnblad and Mrs. Claus.  Even then, the reaction was minimal.

The only reason why the AFA and like minds are jumping in this year is because they are downright desperate to score some points against LGBT people and our acceptability.  These are landmark times for our movement, and the American people are starting to understand just how hollow these groups' campaigns against us truly are.  They are getting louder because people are listening less and less.  The thought behind their Macy's campaign is that they can glom on to a national event with which everyone is familiar in hopes that their fear campaign—built, as it most always is, around the supposed damaging and/or recruitment of impressionable children—will find just a few more receptive ears.

What it really does is speak to the current silliness that is anti-LGBT commentary.  It's always been offensive and discriminatory, obviously.  But nowadays, the desperation has led these organizations and spokespeople to a point of near-parody.  The can't beat us in court, in many legislatures, or, increasingly, at the polls—so they attack musical theatre.

Their political movement has become a world of nonsensical fantasay.  Someone should write a good musical about it.

Related Stories

 

GLAAD Southern Stories will elevate the experiences of LGBT people in six of the nation's southern states. The initiative amplifies stories of LGBT people thriving in the South, ongoing discrimination, as well as the everyday indignities endured by LGBT people who simply wish to live the lives they love, including stories of family, stories of faith, stories of sports, and stories of patriotism