Okay, who’s pumped for a star-studded SGM extravaganza?!
So, I had previously mentioned that my friend Marty and I teach a playwriting class at the Harvey Milk High School, and twice a year we have our actor friends come in to read our kids’ work.
(I thought they should change the phrase to “Huge opportunities of AWESOME,” but apparently being a school, they have this thing about grammar.)
It’s always an exciting event, to say the least. The buzz throughout the school is palpable, punctuated by overly-conspicuous bouts of “OMG, you guys, I am totally freaking out” in the hallway as the kids fan themselves like Scarlett O’Hara upon seeing some of the more recognizable actors in the halls.
Starry eyes aside, it’s one of my favorite events of the year because it shows how extraordinary these kids are, and how close they were to never being recognized for that.
I have to admit, when I first heard about the Harvey Milk school in 2004, I wasn’t sure if I thought it was a good idea. It sounded a little like separate but equal to me, and isn’t it important that gay kids learn to integrate themselves with their straight peers, seeing as how 90% of the world is straight? And shouldn’t all God’s children – black, white, Asian, Latino, straight, gay, young, getting-up-there-but-still-looking-good-for-their-age – be holding hands and frolicking down a hillside while singing and buying each other Mountain Dew, anyway?
Once I started teaching there, however, I got it. These weren’t kids who would otherwise be okay – these were kids who needed this place. The school provides education, sure, but beyond that it gives them a place to be who they are, to express themselves, a safe environment where a boy who wants to wear a wig doesn’t get his skull cracked in, or a girl who gets crushes on girls doesn’t have to worry about getting kicked out on the street.
It’s a place where the kids learn that life really can be beautiful, and wonderful, and safe, and most importantly, where they learn that they matter. As such, it’s become an unbelievably supportive environment, even a family. Anyone who’s ever visited the school feels it immediately.
But let’s back it up. Marty and I were still looking for another actor, and after thinking about it for a while, I figured I’d ask Morris. Oh, sure, I may be nursing a major league crush on him and desperate to make up any excuse to spend time together, but really, you know, it’s … it’s for the children!
Morris enthusiastically said yes, and that he was thrilled to be able to help out the kids in any way he could. His one caveat was that he had to leave immediately after the reading was done so he could make an audition on time. I was half-hoping he would make up a lame excuse and say he couldn’t do it, but no. He’s so freaking great and so freaking selfless and so freaking not with me, but instead with this guy:
God damn you, My-Size Ken.
Fortunately, I had a date the Saturday before the reading, and I called my friend Jessie, who was set to move to New York in a few days.