Play Depicting ‘Furtive Lesbian Romance’ Performed at Catholic Colleges

Play Depicting ‘Furtive Lesbian Romance’ Performed at Catholic Colleges

[No or evasive replies by academic and diocesan authorities involved; previously staged at other “Catholic” institutions of higher ed (“the usual suspects”)]

Mallory Nygard / October 25, 2016

At least two Catholic colleges are planning productions this academic year of the play “Stop Kiss,” which has been described as a tale of “furtive lesbian romance” that “chronicles the sexual awakening of two appealing young women as they tiptoe around mutual desire.”

St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., is sponsoring a production of the play in November. “After Callie meets Sara, the two unexpectedly fall in love,” according to the event description. “Their first kiss provokes a violent attack that transforms their lives in a way they could never anticipate. Mature audiences only; adult language and situations.”

The College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., is planning to perform the play in the spring. The advertisement for the production includes a disclaimer: “Adult content. Recommended for ages 14+.”

The play portrays the beginning of a romantic relationship between two women. Coarse language is used throughout. In one scene, the women sleep together in the same bed. In another scene, a male and female character talk about how the woman had unprotected sex in a bathroom. In the final scene, the main female characters kiss.

The scenes of the play alternate showing what happened before and after the main characters were assaulted by a man who witnessed their kiss. The unnamed assailant’s hate and violent reaction are used to stir the audience’s sympathy toward the women’s same-sex relationship. While such acts of violence and hate must never be condoned or supported, it is also inappropriate for a Catholic college to condone and support same-sex acts and relationships.

Unfortunately, rather than emphasizing the Church’s beautiful teachings on human sexuality, far too many Catholic colleges are focused on sponsoring events geared towards leading students to embrace and celebrate disordered sexual attractions and lifestyles, such as the recent “Coming Out Day” celebrations.

The Cardinal Newman Society reached out to St. Norbert College and the College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University about the play asking whether the female student actors would actually kiss and for comment on Catholic identity concerns about the misrepresentation of human sexuality in the play. Both colleges were also asked whether they had any plans to present the Church’s teachings on chastity and human sexuality in tandem with the productions. Neither college returned multiple requests for comments by the time of publication.

Father Dan Felton, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Green Bay, told the Newman Society that when the play at St. Norbert College came to the attention of the diocese he met immediately with senior administration to address the performance of the play. No further information was provided. The play is currently still scheduled to be performed.

Problematic Message

While exploring various themes, the play works to normalize same-sex relationships and endorse them as a means to fulfillment. One of the main characters, Sara, keeps asking the other female lead, Callie, “What do you want?” Callie’s answer, finally, is “Sara.” What once “radiated urgency” and seemed “novel” at its first performance in 1998, according to , is now considered a commonplace, suitable production for college theater programs.

The play’s author, Diana Son, said in a 2013 interview:

Ending with the kiss, the fact that it was met with violence, to me is more a statement about what does happen … When people “come out” [as gay] it’s not like people cheer, it’s not a welcome [occasion]. … I wanted it to be much more reflective to the audience

to identify for themselves in what way they may provide that kind of response themselves.

The author’s motivation implies a link between the hateful reaction of the violent character and any less-than-wholehearted endorsement of or reaction to same-sex relationships and sexual activity.

The play also has a noted lack of a spiritual dimension. In fact, when Sara mentions that she used to teach at a religious school run by the Quakers, Callie laughs at her. Through this omission, the play fails to address the incredibly important questions of temptation and sin.

In “Stop Kiss,” the characters are encouraged to act on their attractions without regard for whether they should be acting in such a way. There are no positive influences depicted in the play expressing a rightly-ordered view of human sexuality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly explains that we are called to “discern between trials” and between “being tempted and consenting to temptation.” Sin, after all, is the “result from our consenting to temptation.”

We pray in the “Lord’s Prayer” for God to lead us not into temptation. God wants to free us from the lure of sin and find true happiness in Him. Being tempted, therefore, as the characters are through their same-sex attraction, is not in itself a sin, but acting on that temptation, however, is sinful. The play’s endorsement of acting on the temptation to sexual sin as a path to happiness does not provide a helpful paradigm for the audience, and doesn’t fit within the mission and responsibilities of a Catholic college.

Previous Productions

“Stop Kiss” has previously been produced at several Catholic colleges across the country.

Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wis., staged the play in November of 2015.

The play was also performed at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., in December of 2013.

Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis., hosted a production of the play during its 2013-2014 season.

Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore hosted a performance of the play, in February 2010.

The play was staged at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind., the sister school of the University of Notre Dame, in April 2008 in a “spirit of unity and activism.”

The play was also performed at Boston College in October 2007.

In April of the same year, DePaul University in Chicago staged the play.

The University of Notre Dame presented the play in January of 2005.

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