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Safe Space Dialogue and Student Opinions about Gayness by allanleelovemonica

At the end of reading Angels in America, Miguel told the class that he most connected to the character Roy Cohn. When I asked why, he said, "Power." In the playâ€"and in real lifeâ€"Roy is centered on issues of power, and this student wanted that same type of recognition. However, associating oneself with a character like Roy was also quite problematic, as many of the other students in the class suggested. "But Roy's the villain," argued Jessika, one of my most vocal students. After all, Roy's stance on gayness is noticeably contentious: He proclaims about himself,"Roy Cohn is not a homosexual. Roy Cohn is a heterosexual man. who fucks around with guys". Despite his self-assurance, Roy's identity is innately contradictory and entirely problematic.

A natural corollary would suggest that the student who most associated himself with Roy also created a problematic stance. This response was not altogether surprising. After all, the presence of homophobiaâ€"whether internal, as it is with Roy, or external, as it was with Miguelâ€"was one impetus for teaching Angels in America. Before reading the play, students completed a survey that suggested a level of discomfort around the issue of gayness, particularly among male students. One student said that he made negative comments about gay people because it "is really bad that they kiss on the street." Another was quite open about his feelings, admitting, "I don't like gay people."
Thomas Sabo Necklaces

At the same time, distancing themselves from gayness did not preclude curiosity and willingness to discuss. In an open conversation about gayness, students offered a number of reactions, opinions, and stereotypes: Gay men "wear pink clothing and pointy shoes." They go to the beauty parlor; talk like gilts; want to be sexy; "shake that ass" when they walk; exaggerate physical traits. "They want to be like girls." When we began reading the play, students innately stereotyped the characters, identifying Roy as gay because he "talks dirty" and calls people "baby doll"; Prior suffers the same fate when he calls Louis "baby" and, as inferred by one student, "speaks softly about Little Sheba, his cat."

While students came to class with real opinions on gayness, digging deeper into their belief systems exposed an unexpected openness to homosexuality. Upholding stereotypes was one thing; acting directly on stereotypes was another. Even from Miguel, I did not hear any outwardly negative comments about homosexuality past these initial conversations. The most vocal students in class were four females with definite opinions on the normalcy of homosexuality. Alicia wrote in her survey, "They are created in the same way as other people, and they have the same rights." Both Jessika and Gloria wrote about their best friends who were gay. Jessika "support[s] him to the fullest." Gloria did not see that being gay had "anything [negative] to do with his personality."
Thomas Sabo Earrings
Student dynamics in my classroom reflected larger socialization trends in regards to acceptance and tolerance of gayness. Many Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) around the country are composed primarily of females who identify as straight, in part because they seem to understand the "damage rendered by homophobia and sexism" (Perrotti and Westheimer 65â€"66). Unfortunately, my school does not have a GSA. Conversations in my classroom became one of the first forums within which females and males alike could express their feelings and opinions about homosexuality. Ernesto asked to continue the conversation because he "never discussed this in other classes."

Thomas Sabo is a professional jewellery manufacturer and a wholesaler who owns its expressive developing histories. It is also a leading online retailer in Thomas Sabo Carriers.

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Written by Kitty Cat Central

April 2nd, 2012 at 8:58 am

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