08 December 2010

Seeing By The Light of Othello

It's cold and I'm really tired.  Charlie curls up on me and falls alseep; I also find myself drifting off.

It's that time in the semester when you read papers from a stack and, just when you think you're finished, the stack grows.

Some things never end:  like LGBT kids getting abuse and worse from family members and school mates, not to mention teachers. Yesterday, one of my students talked to me about it.  She's ostracized  for wearing baggy men's clothing, and her conservative mother--who comes from a culture not noted for its tolerance of queer people--has been telling her "I wanted a girl, not a boy!"

She said something else I found interesting, in reference to a video of Shakespeare's Othello:  "It's so gay.  Didn't anyone else see that?"

She had missed the previous class when I mentioned that some commentators have suggested that Iago tries to destroy Othello's marriage to Desdemona, not so he can have her to himself, but so he can have Othello to himself, if you know what I mean.  I'm not the first one who's ever mentioned that possiblity:  One of my profs did, more years ago than I'll admit, and I've read that interpretation of Iago's motives elsewhere.

What's even more interesting, to me, is that the student told me that Othello, which she was reading for the first time, is the first work of literature she found interesting, and the first thing she was ever assigned to read in any class and didn't hate.

I believe her, if for no other reason that I simply can't imagine her flattering someone.  She is angry over the way she's been treated, and I can't say I blame her.  But, I know that whatever her quirks and flaws may be, she has integrity, and that she's not simply going through a phase, in expressing herself as she does.

All right...Maybe I'll take that back.  Maybe she was trying to flatter me, in a way:  Expressing what she feels about Othello may have been a way of getting my attention.  When she pronounced the "gayness" of the film we saw, I could tell she was looking to me for something--perhaps simply a non-judgmental ear--that she couldn't get from her family or peers.

Somehow I get the feeling that she's going to find other readings interesting and even entertaining.  And she'll know that she's going to need them, and the lessons she learns from them, to help her through one thing and another.    After all, I reminded her, she'll have to be smarter and better-informed about everything because of what she is.

No comments: