Student Voice: Sexuality and the Social Hierarchy

Posted January 22, 2010


The song “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. played through the small speakers of a white laptop as kids trickled into Room 121 at the top of the South School stairs. We kicked off the workshop—Sexual Orientation and Gender Hierarchy—by reading a short scene from Angels in America by Tony Kushner. In this scene, Roy Cohn, a powerful, politically connected attorney, discovers he has AIDS. His doctor’s insinuation that Roy is a homosexual sparks a passionate speech detailing how Cohn perceives sexuality’s connection to power in the social food chain.

We discussed Cohn’s understanding that heterosexual meant powerful, and homosexual meant weak. Following this discussion, we watched and discussed several clips, ranging from Walk on the Wild Side a film from the sixties that flirts with the subject of homosexuality, to current TV shows like Will and Grace and The L Word that address homosexuality head-on. Through these clips, we discussed the theme of “unhappy gay people” slowly finding the ability to respect their own sexuality. We ended the workshop with a clip from The L Word addressing transgender issues.

After watching fifty years of history compressed into an hour, we ended the workshop celebrating how far we have come on the issue of homosexuality, and how far we still have to go until we can fully accept all forms of sexuality.

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