Author - Speaker - teacher


April 22, 2005


The choir director ‘fessed up.  “I’m gay,” he told his impressionable but well-conditioned high school musicians.  Forty years ago, his coming out would have resulted in an emergency school board meeting and likely, his firing.  In 1965 things were different.

In 1965, my high school performed “South Pacific,” that story about World War II and love and lusty Seabees.  I played Luther Billis, the swaggering dealmaker with the soft heart.  At one point in the musical, Billis does a belly dance. 

It took nearly two months for me to work up the courage and endurance to roll my belly for those eight measures.  I wore a grass skirt, coconuts for breasts and a “tattoo” of the Mayflower inked onto my belly.  I danced in the middle of a small circle of Seabees, who lasciviously grabbed at my skirt and laughed wildly. 

Rose Moosbrugger, a teacher, got up and walked out in disgust.  She found it out of place and immoral for a public high school.  She went straight to the phone and called John MacAlpine, the school district’s Director of Music and demanded that he put a stop to my performance.  Only an intervention from a family friend kept my dance in the show, but those student Seabees were ordered to keep their hands off me. 

Maybe I confused Miss Moosbrugger by my dance.  A few months earlier, during the annual celebration of Christ’s birth at our public high school, I stood in the balcony with the school choir and sang Christmas hymns as student actors replayed the story of Jesus’ birth – in our St. Paul public high school! 

That was 1965; not so long ago and just before the outbreak of the so-called “sexual revolution” sparked by my Class of ’65. 

Fast forward to 2005.  St. Paul has now nearly three decades of “equal rights” for homosexuals as a legally protected minority.  This means that a homosexual cannot be denied employment, housing or public accommodations simply because of his or her sexual preference.  It means that a homosexual music teacher can come out of the closet and show his impressionable students that being “gay” is “normal.” 

To prove his point and bring even greater understanding, the “gay” teacher invited the One Voice choir to join his students in a musical performance at the public school.  One Voice is comprised of male and female homosexuals – very competent and musically accomplished singers, I understand. 

The St. Paul Pioneer Press praised this concert with a feature story as moral judgment has given way to celebration and promotion.  City citizens yawned.  Pastors made no protests.  Christians ignored it or attended. 

Such indifference will prove deadly for some of those high school singers.  A small number of them, having been fully indoctrinated in the language of “acceptance” and “tolerance,” will themselves be encouraged to come out of the closet.  They may aspire to join One Voice when they reach adulthood.  That those young boys will live with constant and nagging illnesses and can expect to die by age 42 is of little matter to anyone.  The school will make sure that they don’t smoke cigarettes and urge them to wear condoms. 

This generation of high school musicians has been denied by our Supreme Court the privilege of celebrating Christ’s birth through sacred performance in their public schools.  To acknowledge Jesus in public schools, the Court believes, is to mix religion with state.  If religion is mixed with state, moral clarity might have a chance.  Should moral clarity have a chance, homosexual teachers would be forced to stay in the closet and not present their sexual choices as “normal,” and American society certainly could not tolerate such intolerance by a government institution. 

I imagined Rose Moosbrugger trying to teach in a modern public school, and what she would have done if the choir director had announced she was a lesbian – and invited One Voice to sing on the Johnson High School platform with the A Choir.  Today, the St. Paul School Board would angrily reprimanded her and then fire her for her insensitivity and hate. 

One male member of One Voice is a cross-dresser – he wears women’s clothes.  He could do a bang-up job playing Luther Billis and doing my belly dance.  And everyone would laugh. 

Except Miss Moosbrugger and me.

Gay choir performs

with public school choir

Who cares?