Michael Neri of Birmingham, England loves teaching performing arts to young people. He runs Talking Props Theatre School in Kidder Minster, for kids from ages 8 to 13. He also happens to be (gasp!) gay.
In fact, he told Mic that he started the group to give kids the opportunity to study theatre in an environment he himself never had while growing up, one that he thinks would have helped him flourish.
While his being gay doesn’t affect his ability to teach drama to children (except maybe in a positive way), it does mean that the occasional homophobic parent will have something negative to say.
But Neri is not the type of person to feel ashamed of who he is or to let some random parent make him feel bad. So when a mother who found out he was gay withdrew her children from his class via text, he responded in the funniest and best possible way.
The story, originally from 2015, is making the rounds on the internet again just because of how funny and perfectly timeless it is.
Got a lovely text this week pic.twitter.com/UWPGRycuph
— Michael Neri (@michaelneri) November 16, 2015
Neri originally posted the text exchange between the straight up homophobic mom and himself to Twitter.
The woman states that she’s withdrawing her kids due to the fact that “as a Christian, [she] cannot allow [her] children to be influenced by unconventional ideas” (what, like that love is universal?). She also adds that she “look[s] forward” to receiving her deposit back, but um, yeah, we all know that’s not gonna happen.
In his lengthy and wonderful response, Neri mentions that he’s honestly not sad to see the kids go, because homophobia would really only dampen the whole atmosphere of the class. He also says that he heard another performing arts school was taking on students, but that the mom would probably want to avoid them, too, because their teachers wore “mixed fabrics,” which is also a no-no according to the bible. Oh, and as for that deposit? Yeah, that was donated to StoneWall, an LGBT charity. Cheers!
At the time this happened, Neri spoke to Mic about the whole situation. He revealed that he worked on that kickass response for a few hours before sending it (I’m still laughing at “theatre without gays is like cooking without spices”).
Neri told Mic, “I was a little shocked to receive the text. I felt a little bit, I suppose, disheartened by it and that the decision had been made solely on something that wasn’t about my professional capacity to teach.”
He added, “It was such a clever and witty response, and I’m not a witty person. I’m not going to lie, it was brewing. I got the text early afternoon and it took me a good couple of hours to respond back.”
Neri has absolutely no problem with Christianity and mentioned that he knows a lot of Christian and Muslim parents who are totally comfortable with him teaching their children. In fact, one of the teachers at Talking Props is Christian, too.
“When it comes down to my professionalism and my ability as a teacher, [religion] shouldn’t be an issue. Either you believe in my ability to teach and you send your children or you don’t,” he said.
All in all, Neri said, “I take a positive from all this, not a negative. I’m taking the love and everything that’s coming from it, not the initial text I got from the lady.”