The "Body of Knowledge" Symposium at the University of South Carolina Upstate will have one glaring omission this week, and there's a good reason to get angry. Brooklyn playwright and out lesbian Leigh Hendrix's one-woman play, How to be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less, billed as "exploration of self-discovery and first love, coming out, lesbian sex, queer politics, and a really important Reba McEntire song," was cancelled after South Carolina State Senator Mike Fair pressured the university to remove it.
Senator Fair, a Republican, claimed, "It's just not normal and then you glorify, or it seems to me, that the promotion at USC is a glorification of same sex orientation...That's not an explanation of 'I was born this way.' It's recruiting." Unfortunately his uninformed views are shared by many, and ultimately the negativity surrounding the satirical performance shut it down. Tammy Whaley, a spokesposon for USC Upstate, explained, "So many people were interpreting her performance as an instructive session rather than the comical or satirical nature of the show...Elected officials and religious community members were thinking it was a class requirement versus a symposium that was open to the campus and community." USC Upstate also had its funding cut recently by the South Carolina House because some of the curriculum included books featuring LGBT people, so this disturbing news isn't exactly a surprise.
It's a true shame that the attendees of the symposium will never truly get to see just how wrong their confused assumptions are, but Leigh Hendrix (or Butchy McDyke as she's known in the show, isn't being quiet about her silencing. In fact, she's using the opportunity to reach her message to an even larger audience, many of whom she believes could benefit from the honesty and acceptance her show offers. In this worthwhile video, 'Expert Lesbian' Butchy McDyke herself breaks down the uneducated and potentially harmful effect of the cancellation of her show, which features nothing but positive and supportive themes about self-discovery and (obviously) absolutely nothing in the way of recruitment. That Leigh Hendrix won't get the audience she deserves at USC Upstate is a frightening slap in the face to free speech and LGBT rights, but this is a good opportunity to acquaint yourself with her passion and performance. Hopefully she will soon get the platform she deserves and her words will be heard by both those who relate and those who are too ignorant to understand.