“Homosexuality does not exist in a conservative community such as South Williamsport”

Welcome to South Williamsport, Pennsylvania — the only place in America, outside of the Inhofe family, where there are no gays in the village.

You see, the superintendent of South Williamsport Junior Senior High School (“junior senior”? sounds kind of bi to me), recently canceled the school’s production of the Broadway hit “Spamalot” because the show, he supposedly said, is too gay for a town that has no gays.

According to local news channel WNEP: “[T]he director of [the] drama department, Dawn Burch says school officials are making the drama department choose another show. Burch says school officials dropped the musical because of its homosexual themes, according to an email she says she received.” Though in an update to the story, WNEP now claims the email never contained that message. Heck of a claim for WNEP’s reporter to have just pulled out of thin air.

WNEP continues: “In that email, Burch says the principal wrote that homosexuality does not exist in a conservative community such as South Williamsport. We spoke with community and students who go to the school. They say that’s not true.”

Sing it, sister.

So, curious about this notion that South Williamsport, PA has no gays, I did a little checking on some of the more popular virtual gay hangouts, and what do you know — the gay!

south-williamsport-pa-gays-3

It looks like the entire town of South Williamsport may need to be canceled.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • ruthiempatterson

    Josiah . although Jacqueline `s stori is surprising,
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  • JayRandal

    Lots of closeted persons in conservative zones.

  • Jim Olson

    *snort*

  • olgahmccoin

    my Aunty
    Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  • Bcre8ve

    Kind of like The Simpsons and South Park. They work on different levels for different age groups.
    ;-)

  • MyrddinWilt

    That sounds right. I don’t see a problem with sexual innuendo from a moral perspective but from a comedic perspective the jokes are likely to go over the kids heads.

  • Jonas Grumby

    Were these people dropped on their heads as children?

  • bpollen

    I used to work with a guy from Ethiopia who thought there were no gays in Ethiopia before the British showed up. I asked what the outcome would have been had somebody admitted it before the British. He said they probably would have been killed. I said “Yeah, musta been the British who brought ‘em.”

  • Schlukitz

    Your points are very well taken.

    It’s quite obvious that the school superintendant is driven by homophobia and anti-gay animus.

  • goulo

    Not to mention that even if it were true that there were no gay people in the town, so what? Why is that a reason to cancel a play with gay characters?
    If there were no Spanish people in the town, would he refuse to permit a play with Spanish characters?
    If there were no blind people in the town, would he refuse to permit a play with blind characters?
    Since there are no Elizabethan Englishmen in the town, does he refuse to permit Shakespearean plays?
    His argument makes no sense, even if the ridiculous premise that there are no gay people were somehow true.

  • Aubrey Haltom

    My mother-in-law lives in Bucks County, close to New Hope – which, per the US Census, has one of the highest percentages of gay/lesbian couples in the country.

    But, as James Carville famously noted: Pennsylvania could be described as “Philadelphia on one end, Pittsburgh on the other end, and Alabama in the middle”.

  • Anneliese

    Should be able to go to 21 if you take your shoes and socks off…

  • Bcre8ve

    And here I thought Daffyd Thomas was the only who thought there was no other “gay in the village on campus”!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRCNFYL9fkQ

  • Bcre8ve

    You are correct. This is a version specifically put together for this age group, with changes made to some language, story, and stage direction to make it more “age appropriate” which they then distribute to many schools, according to the Spamalot producers.

  • berthamdonovan

    Josiah . although Jacqueline `s stori is surprising,
    last week I bought themselves a Chrysler from having made $5060 thiss month
    and-in excess of, 10/k last-month . it’s realy the easiest-work I have ever
    done . I started this 4 months ago and pretty much straight away was bringin in
    at least $78 per-hour . why not look here C­a­s­h­d­u­t­i­e­s­.­C­O­M­

  • Indigo

    That might be too explicit a critique of the town.

  • http://wicca.com/celtic/wicca/wicca.htm Colin

    I fart in their general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

  • Thom Allen

    As Becca says below, the non-urban areas of Pennsylvania can be quite conservative and very religious (evangelicals [including snake-handling churches], Mennonites, Amish and others). Sometimes that geographic area is referred to as “Pennsyltucky” for that reason.

    Let’s not forget Mark Kessler, former police chief of Gilberton, PA. He was the right-wing “gundit” who was railing against liberals and gays, always firing off weapons in real life and on You Tube, threatening to kill politicians, took the town hostage with hundreds of his armed followers. He was Cliven Bundy before Cliven Bundy became Cliven Bundy. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/20/us/pennsylvania-police-chief-fired/index.html

    Several members of the PA House of Representatives blocked Rep. Brian Sims (openly gay) from speaking out about marriage equality. As one, Daryl Metcalfe, said, ”I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should
    allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that
    ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has
    said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God’s law.”

    Pennsylvania where one County Clerk (in Schuylkill County) Theresa Santai-Gaffney, challenged Judge Jones ruling allowing for same-sex marriage. When Judge Jones ruled against her, she filed to be heard in a Federal Court. This is AFTER the Attorney General refused to depend the ban on SSM, Judge Jones overturned the ban, the Governor of PA refused to appeal Judge Jones’ ruling. Hello, Theresa, throw in the towel. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/06/19/us-county-clerk-to-pursue-federal-appeal-against-same-sex-marriage-in-pennsylvania/

    I don’t doubt that that there are people in Pennsylvania who really believe that there are no gays there (at least in some areas) or that teh gay can be made by exposing people to gays. That some people are so deeply anti-gay that they will fight to the point of insanity against gays and equality.

  • http://buddybest.tripod.com/index.html BuddyNovinski

    Williamsport is too close to my hometown of Wilkes-Barre (for which I’ve been once in the twenty years for my mother’s funeral), where they are stuck in the 1930’s. On my website “About Me”, I have that popular “We’re in the Money” in dishonor of a bunch of dying old farts, which leads to a declining population of the area.

  • Jeff Schueler

    There are no more gays in Kansas either. “No more” than 250,000 – 300,000, at my last count, anyway. But what do I know, I have to drop my pants to count to 11.

  • Schlukitz

    How is the school superintendant cancelling a “show, he supposedly said, is too gay for a town that has no gays.” any different from a restaurtant refusing to serve gays, a photographer refusing to take picture of a same-sex wedding, a baker refusing to bake a cake for gays or a public venue refusing to rent their space for a gay wedding? This is blatant homophobia and discrimination…and no one is even uttering the word, much less, calling this idiot on it?

  • goulo

    Heh, this reminds me of that link you had a few months ago with a Russian mayor saying there were no gay people in his city.

  • jomicur

    Wow, so South Williamsport is just like Iran. Who knew?

  • jomicur

    Nope, La Cage aux Folles.

  • Craig Peters

    They should do The Producers instead ;-)

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Pennsylvania was somewhat progressive, too, once upon a time. Solidly pro-Labor. Pro-education. Sure, there were some conservatives, but the Republicans could only win elections by being moderate, such as the late Senator John Heinz.

    Then came the Reagan Revolution…

  • Mike F

    Ah, the memories of discovering Monty Python’s Flying Circus on the PBS station here in STL, when I was about eleven or twelve-ish.

    “Cooorr, tiiiiits!” Mmmmmm, Carol Cleveland *drooool*

    (Don’t worry, Carol Cleveland’s attributes were not my only takeaway from MPFC)

    On another, more relevant note, Missour-ah sounds a lot like mid-PA. But, then again, most state’s rural populations have appeared to have devolved to this level over the last thirty years. Missouri was once a fairly progressive state. No, really.

  • nicho

    Just because the superintendent has cruised the park weekly for a year without being hit on doesn’t mean that there are no gays — maybe he’s just ugly.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    7th grade is precisely when my friends and I were watching the imported Monty Python show on PBS. Sure, we were younger than the intended ‘target audience’ but we loved the show in part because it seemed somewhat rebellious.

    The actual Spamalot plot is rather complicated…but if this school play is like any other adaptation for middle-schoolers, it’s probably been cut back and simplified massively. On the other hand, the Prince Herbert/Lancelot subplot is kind of integral to the whole thing, so there’s no getting around the gay theme.

    Given what I know about that part of the state, I’d still put money on that being the source of the objection — but what we’re seeing here is the public face of the reaction (the superintendent flailing for a neutral-sounding reason for canceling the play) and not the homophobic fundie parents who objected in the first place. That money is on their complaints saying crap like “there are no gay people in South Williamsport.”

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Lycoming County, Pennsylvania… that takes me back. I used to go on long solo camping trips in that area. Gorgeous wilderness, by the way.

    Folks who aren’t native to the state, as I used to be, don’t quite get what a weird and (proverbially speaking) schizophrenic place it can be. The progressive/Democratic bastions of the state — Philly and Pittsburgh tend to dominate politics and culture, but the rest of the state, sometimes called the “T” for its geographic shape, might as well be the love child of hillbilly rural West Virginia and prepper/supremacist northern Idaho.

    (Places like Allentown/Bethlehem, Scranton, Erie, and Harrisburg can’t quite seem to make up their minds, but lean moderate-conservative mostly. Then there’s State College, smack dab in the middle of the state, filled with progressive-minded Penn State students — who the locals don’t want to be allowed to vote.)

    That’s not to say everybody’s like that, not by a long-shot, but rather there’s a reason why those regions of the state are dominated by extreme conservatives. While I was there, it seemed like every major election was “Who can turn out more of the votes? The progressives in the cities or the conservatives and fundamentalists out in the rural boonies?” By time I moved away in the mid-90s, the answer was increasingly “the conservatives out in the boonies” — helped along massively by GOP gerrymandering.

    However, that all said, as MyrddinWilt points out below, the news story in question has been updated to indicate it wasn’t the school superintendent who said there were no gays in South Williamsport, but apparently some other unrelated (and as yet unidentified) source. As for Monty Python being ‘inappropriate’ for middle schoolers…hell, that was the reaction back in the 1970s when PBS stations around the country began showing imported episodes of the original show. And yet we kids still stayed up late and watched in secret anyway — and then spent the next day reciting lines from the show to each other in school.

    My own theory? One or more fundamentalist/conservative parents found out there was a homosexual theme in Spamalot (Prince Herbert and Lancelot), objected to it loudly, and the superintendent cast about for reasons — and ended up on the non-specific “inappropriate material” rationale. Most likely the “there are no gay people in South Williamsport” came from the objectors, being ignorant homophobes who think kids would never turn out gay if they never learned gay people existed. Wouldn’t surprise me at all either if the source turned out to be someone who thought gay people only ‘exist’ in ‘decadent, liberal communities’ — such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and so on.

    (BTW, John, it’s not uncommon for small localities to have combined junior and senior high schools — especially in rural areas because they just don’t have the population to support or warrant separate ones. Nothing ‘bi’ about it. Meow.)

  • discus_sucks_ass

    Montgomery Pike Scenic Overlook, you mean the place to find that “superintendent” every Friday night?

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    To be fair, it doesn’t exist in Iran either where a very similar Sharia Law exists.

  • caphillprof

    The school, at 700 Percy Street, is only 4.3 miles from The Outlet Playtime Boutique which advertises gay DVDs and Gay & Lesbian products.

    Even closer to the school is the Montgomery Pike Scenic Overlook which is listed in Cruisingforsex.

  • Indigo

    ‘Avenue Q’ would be a more sensible choice.

  • MyrddinWilt

    There is an update to the story stating that the comment about there being no gays was not in the email sent out by the Principal. So it looks like someone is playing loose with the facts. But at this point we don’t know which side.

    Also the article suggests that the play is for 7th grade which might be rather younger than he target audience for Spamalot. On the other hand my 8 year old has watched MP & The Holy Grail several times.

  • JamesR

    Perhaps an adaptation of “Oz” is more appropriate then?

  • Quilla

    Stamnalot about Spamalot.

    Or,

    Mark Stamn needs to man-up and proudly march out of his closet.

  • MoonDragon

    Hard to believe for a town that’s withing spitting distance of Allenwood Minimum Security Federal Correctional Facility (just across the road from Clyde Peelings Reptile Land – a great facility with a butterfly environment) and just up the road from the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    And a lesbian or two as well. To quote Kathy Griffin: “C’mon folks! Those sets don’t build themselves!”

  • bkmn

    If someone is doing staged plays you know there is at LEAST one gay around.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    We at the town of South Williamsport do not have a sense of humor that we are aware of.

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