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Letter to the Editor: “The Laramie Project” Asks an Important Question

The views stated here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of this newspaper. We welcome supporting or opposing views on any published item. Received June 24, 2022.

Submitted by Heather Pach

Is hate an HK value?

Last night in Haddam was the opening night of The Laramie Project.  This production is a staged reading produced by Haddam’s very own Blue Fire Stage Company at the former Haddam Elementary School. The Laramie Project is a show that was created by the Tectonic Theater Project after the brutal murder of Matthew Shephard a young, gay college student.  The beauty of this production is that it gives no opinions.  The play was produced from over 200 interviews that the members of the theater company did with the residents of Laramie, Wyoming.  It presents the actual words of these individuals as they struggled to make sense of what happened in their community and why.

Following the production the director, Frank Borelli, led a Community Conversation.  He began by asking, “Is this play relevant here and now?”  Members of the community spoke about their experiences and all perspectives were welcome.  After several people noted experiences, grounded in hate, from our community and our schools, Frank referenced an image from the production. In this scene, members of the theater company see a sign in Laramie that says, “Hate is Not a Laramie Value.” Frank then asked, “Is hate a Haddam (or HK) value?”  Members of the audience and the community within the theater last night shared their dissenting views on this question as it applied to the LGBTQIA community, and other marginalized groups.

So where do we stand, HK?  Is hate a value in this community?  How does that question make you feel?  Do you know how it feels to be the victim of hateful acts? Is that something you can be proud of? Is it something you are willing to stand up to? A member of the community last night shared about her heavily evangelical upbringing in the south.  She spoke of “othering” groups that did not agree, and that when she experienced the greater world she could not reconcile how kind members of these groups were to her; she noted that kindness was the answer.  Kindness can change hearts and educate.  Kindness is treating others the way you want to be treated and so kindness does not allow for hate, and, more importantly, kindness does not allow you to sit back and watch others hate.  Standing up for others and treating people with respect is a start, but opposing people who don’t is the next step that will show Hate is NOT an HK Value.

The Laramie Project will be staged again tonight June 24th and tomorrow June 25th at the former Haddam Elementary School.  Tickets can be purchased at https://bluefirestage.ticketleap.com/laramie/

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