When Wasilla High School principal Dwight Probasco told the jazz choir they could not perform Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” at graduation, the kids in the choir got kind of pissed off. After all, they’d been working on the song all year.
But a parent had complained, after all, and everyone knows that parental complaints are always based in sound reasoning and must be taken seriously and acted upon. See, this particular parent apparently didn’t think the kids should be singing a Queen song since Freddie Mercury was a big homo and all. So Probasco did what any reasonable guy would do: He pulled the plug on the performance.
I mean what else was he supposed to do? Let the “jazz choir” sing something “gay?” But his mandate didn’t go over well with members of the WHS student body.
In fact, junior Casey Hight, a member of the jazz choir, went so far as to call up the folks at a big-city (OK, Anchorage) gay organization. They told her to go to the ACLU. Oh, snap!
“I felt like the school was discriminating for sexual orientation and I felt it was wrong,” Hight told The Frontiersman. “It’s so stupid because there’s nothing sexual in the song. There aren’t even any cuss words.”
True. Though to be fair, no one really knows what the song’s about. Mercury was pretty tight lipped about the whole thing. I mean, unless you’re doing, like, a graduate-school level close reading in the Queer Theory school of literary criticism (and something tells me that’s not something the WHS English department spends much time on), the song is pretty tame sexually. It does have murder in it, though.
Still, it’s not as if the song hasn’t ever been played at the school.
“They’d played the song on the school intercom and we played it at prom. It’s a great song and the choir was really excited to be singing it. And the senior class felt like it defined them,” senior Rachel Clark told The Frontiersman. “The whole attitude of the song just seems to fit our class.”
She’s right, it is a great song! And the choir is excited to sing it! And it defines the senior class! Wait, it defines the senior class?
OK, that part is a little weird. I mean, have you listened to the song’s lyrics? There’s a lot of confusion (“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”), fatalism (“Caught in a landslide. No escape from reality”), depression (“I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all”), self-pity (“I’m just a poor boy nobody loves me”), defiance (“So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?”), and indifference (“Nothing really matters to me. Any way the wind blows”).
Huh. I guess that does perfectly encapsulate high school? Never mind.
Not wanting to tangle with the ACLU, principal Probasco relented and the show will go on. The only concession is that the lyrics about shooting a man in the head need to be omitted. Fair enough.
Clark, the senior who claims that “Bohemian Rhapsody” speaks for her class, also told The Frontiersman, “We were joking about singing Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’ instead.”
Those Wasilla kids are pretty funny, I must say, especially since, as Gawker pointed out, Probasco looks a lot like Elton John. Actually, Gawker calls him “a dead ringer for Elton John,” which I think is a bit of a stretch. Probasco looks more like John’s weathered older brother.
Rumor on the Internet is that Probasco really isn’t a bad guy. But giving in to antigay parental pressure is decidedly uncool. Especially when some graduating seniors just want to get their “Rhapsody” on.
D’Anne Witkowski has been gay for pay since 2003. She’s a freelance writer and poet (believe it!). When she’s not taking on the creeps of the world, she reviews rock ’n’ roll shows in Detroit with her twin sister.