Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The King and I and the dangerous book

I recently read an interview with Broadway director Bartlett Shere who directed South Pacific and is in previews for The King and I with Kelli O'Hara. Something in the interview seemed to coincide with a thought of mine. Here is the part of the interview that got me thinking:

Question: In The King and I, we see Anna teaching girls. That seems revolutionary, especially in light of the Nicholas Kristof remark that I know you find inspiring: that in our day the most dangerous thing in the developing world is the education of women -- giving them books.

BShere: For me this is rooted in the story of Tuptim. We need to make clear that she represents a tributary relation between Burma and Siam, a sexual gift to ensure an alliance. That is the root of a deep and profound injustice. In "The Small House of Uncle Thomas," we learn that Tuptim is the more sophisticated one in regard to power dynamics, and is challenging authority. A story about injustice needs change agents. Tuptim is a change agent in part because she is willing to take greater risks and seek justice for herself and for a basic human right.

More and more I am feeling like Tuptim -- and that ain't the gayest thing I have ever said. She was a smart girl, smart enough to draw parallels from Stows's book and her life. Give a person a book and see what happens. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is the book that opens things up for Tuptim. It emboldens her. It empowers her.  

Of course, she ends up dead, but we will ignore that incidental plot twist. Consequences are inevitable. Even not choosing has consequences.  Some results are of our own choice directly and others are not so direct. Nevertheless, we have the power to choose.

Drawing my own parallel to Tuptim; I have had the chance to obtain understanding. Some wise man handed me a proverbial book. When I started to understand it's importance I made a choice to not sit by. Tuptim was given knowledge and understanding, and she choose to act.  She created a staged version of what she read to present what she had learned to others. It was a bold move.  

I have chosen to present my own version to others of what I have learned. Would others come to my same conclusion if I were not keep my understanding to myself?  Am I doing anyone any good? Might I end up as bad off as Tuptim?  These remain to be seen.

And what is my version of what I have learned that I present?  Let me be clear; That I am gay and I am not ashamed;  That I choose to marry a woman after full disclosure and she agreed to marry me with full understanding;  That my wife is a freakin' saint;  That I bear the Priesthood and strive to adhere to the promises I have made to her and to the Lord. 

That none of these are mutually exclusive.  

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