Santa Claus isn’t just coming to town – he’s coming out of the closet.
“Santa Claus is Coming Out” is an off-Broadway comedy featuring Jeffrey Solomon in a one-man production that tells the story of Jolly Old Saint Nick falling in love with Pinocchio’s father, the Italian toy-maker Geppetto.
“The show plays out against the backdrop of the latest salvo in America’s Culture Wars: the debate on providing gay role models to children,” said Jeffrey Solomon in a statement posted on Playbill. “It was inspired by my research into the parents’ rights movement to keep gay issues out of the classroom.”
The show is also being used as a fundraiser for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), an organization founded by Kevin Jennings, President Obama’s Safe Schools Czar. GLSEN says the money will be used to “help support our programs that work to make schools safe for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.”
“Santa Claus is Coming Out” is staged as a mockumentary asking the question: how would the word react to a gay Santa Claus? Characters include a straight, liberal Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a homophobic elf and Mrs. Claus, an anti-gay television evangelist, according to TheaterMania.
The Christmas-time production is drawing fire from some pro-family advocates. “What this really reveals is GLSEN’s dark side,” said Focus on the Family’s Candi Cushman. “GLSEN wants to have it both ways. They want to position themselves as this mainstream group in public schools that parents should trust, but then on the other hand they’re doing things like this.”
Beliefnet columnist Rod Dreher blasted the group, calling it “pervy” and noted about the production, “Nothing says Merry Christmas like the thought of Santa Claus sodomizing Pinocchio’s father.”
According to Backstage, Solomon wants to discuss gay sexual orientation with young children. The industry publication panned the show, but praised the concept. “It’s a timely and important subject, particularly as the religious right’s demagoguery has exploited people’s fear of it to roll back legal gay marriage in California and Maine,” wrote reviewer Erik Haagensen.
Other critics are in love with the Big Apple’s gay Santa. The New York Times called the show an “intensely personal struggle of the great holiday icon, as he tries to reconcile his love relationship with Italian toy maker Giovanni Geppetto.” TheaterMania also offered a favorable review calling it, “sweetly sentimental.”
Focus on the Family said they are not surprised by the show. “If you just take a little bit of time to scratch beneath the surface and research what GLSEN actually puts out there and promotes, this is typical,” said Cushman.
GLSEN has not responded to Focus on the Family’s criticism.