‘We’re Coming for Your Children’ Songwriting Team Forced to Cancel Musical Accused of ‘Romanticizing’ Afghan Dancing Boys

The same songwriting team that wrote an appalling song for the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus mocking parents’ fears that they’re “coming for your children,” were forced to cancel production of a play last year about the “dancing boys” of Afghanistan after it sparked a massive outcry from Afghans who perceived it as romanticizing sexual abuse.

Lyricist Charlie Sohne and composer Tim Rosser provoked a public outcry this week with their LGBTQ anthem, “A Message From the Gay Community,” which tells parents that they will “quietly and subtlely” convert their children, and “you will barely notice it.”

Their YouTube video has since been set to private.

Their song, which Sohne and Rosser claim is “obviously tongue and cheek,” goes on to mock the horror of parents when they discover that their children are “finding things online.”

“Oh, and you’ll be disgusted (so gross), When they start finding things online That you’ve kept far from their sight (like information…) Guess what? You’ll still be alright!” [See below for full lyrics].

The International Organization for the Family posted excerpts from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus despicable video on YouTube

Rosser and Sohne responded to the outcry by lashing out at their “alt. right/anti-gay” critics in a statement posted on Twitter.

 

This is not the first time the songwriting duo’s musical output has spurred outrage.

Sohne and Rosser created a musical in 2016 about “bacha bazi” or “boy play,” a custom in Afghanistan involving child sexual abuse between older men and young adolescent males or boys—known as dancing boys. The boys are trained to dance seductively in front of older men at parties and are often sexually abused.

The play, titled “The Boy Who Danced on Air,” is described by the BBC as “a love story between a 16-year-old boy, Paiman, and another young boy caught in the same bacha bazi practice.”

The production got mixed reviews among liberal theater critics, with some calling it “courageous, thoughtful and beautiful,” but with many others finding the subject matter to be off-putting, including a New York Times reviewer who found the play to be “troubling” and said Sohne and Rosser had “taken the challenge of difficult source material too far.”

Even so, the musical debuted without causing too much of a stir. That changed in 2020, when, according to the BBC, the COVID pandemic “forced theatres to close, and The Boy Who Danced on Air joined many other productions on online streaming services instead.”

As it found a wider audience online, the play reportedly “provoked a wave of outrage and criticism from Afghans living around the world, who, learning of the musical for the first time, accused it of romanticising child sexual abuse and child rape.”

Madina Wardak, an Afghan clinical social worker based in the US, said she watched 40 minutes of the musical and had to turn it off.

“I felt uncomfortable, misunderstood, frantic and anxious all at the same time,” she said. “I cringed every time the actors tried to be believable and every time the audience had a laugh at the expense of real Afghan pain.”

The show has also faced criticism for promoting bacha bazi as a tradition that is accepted in Afghanistan.

“Bacha bazi is a harmful practice that should not in any way be romanticised,” said the Afghan actress and founder of Mena Arts, Azita Ghanizada. “To have another piece of art focused on Afghanistan completely through the white lens shook up our community.”

Ghanizada added: “The writers poured gasoline and lit a match on many of the wounds we are working hard to heal.”

As the backlash intensified, Troy Iwata, the actor who plays Paiman in the musical, (and is the lead singer in the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus video) posted an apology on his Instagram account.

“A while ago I did a show where I played someone of Afghan descent, which I am not,” he said. “The show romanticised sexual assault and misconstrued an entire culture and its people. I am so sorry.”

Sohne and Rosser also posted an apology to the Afghan community, claiming that their musical about a love affair between underage dancing Afghan boys was not meant to “glorify bacha bazi.”

 

This was met with more anger from Afghans who registered their disgust on Twitter:

 

The Afghan Diaspora for Equality & Progress put out a statement condemning the “racist” musical, and demanding that the production be cancelled and its proceeds donated to the victims of bacha bazi.

 

The statement reads in part:

Playwright Charlie Sohne and composer Tim Rosser created a musical titled “The Boy Who Danced on Air,” a problematic and harmful musical about Afghanistan, which until very recently was available for streaming via San Diego’s Diversionary Theater. It was originally released in 2016 and faced criticism for its racist and false depictions at that time as well. Unfortunately, the musical is far from unique; it is one of many orientalist depictions of Afghanistan and the region that have been released during the long history of American and European imperialism.

The musical romanticizes and promotes the practice of “bacha bazi,” which translates to “boy play,” a form of pederasty, or pedophilia, where young boys are typically kidnapped from their families and forced to dance at parties for groups of men. Bacha bazi is linked to sex trafficking, sexual assault, and rape. The producers of this musical have said that this is a part of Afghan culture. It is not. As members of the Afghan diaspora, we reject such a vile and racist portrayal of our culture. Not only is it deeply problematic that two white men are at the forefront of a musical attempting and failing to depict Afghan culture, the musical fetishizes and trivializes sex trafficking and rape, and harms victims of sexual exploitation and violence.

The backlash forced the musical’s creators and Diversionary Theatre – the LGBTQ company that streamed the musical online – to meet with Afghan activists and scholars to discuss resolution of the issue, according to the BBC report.

After the consultation with members of the Afghan community, including Ms Azita, Dr Munhazim, Ms Zondon and Ms Wardak, Sohne and Rosser issued a second apology, this time deciding to take down the production along with Youtube videos from the show, ending the sale of the album and removing it from streaming services.

In a joint statement they said their musical “created a world of pain for people in the Afghan community – specifically, LGBT Afghans who are particularly marginalised”.

They apologised to the victims of bacha bazi who were disturbed by the show and the posts promoting it and said the practice was “illegal and brutal and abusive”.

“We also now realise that it was not our place as privileged white writers to tell stories about communities that are already underrepresented and under attack in this country,” their statement read.

Diversionary Theatre removed “The Boy Who Danced on Air” from its website and apologized for using the word “tradition” to market the production.

The creators reportedly vowed to donate proceeds to Afghan charities “to mitigate the harm done as much as possible” and admitted that “no Afghan voices were empowered in the creation of the show”.

Update:

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir is now reportedly working “around the clock” to have their “tongue in cheek” video scrubbed from the internet.

As Ace of Spades HQ correctly notes, the group’s argument that conservatives are taking their “humor” “out of context doesn’t quite square with their aggressive stance of “siccing lawyers on commentators for publishing the video in full context.”

How can people judge whether it’s being “taken out of context” when they’re using legal threats to specifically keep people from judging the context?

That, of course, is the whole game.

Below are the full lyrics of  Sohne and Rosser’s “Message From the Gay Community”:

You think we’re sinful

You fight against our rights

You say we all lead live you can’t respect

But you’re just frightened

You think that we’ll corrupt your kids

If our agenda goes unchecked

Funny, just this once, you’re correct

We’ll convert your children

Happens bit by bit

Quietly and subtlely

And you will barely notice it

You can keep them from disco

Warn about San Francisco

Make ’em wear pleated pants

We don’t care…

We’ll convert your children…

We’ll make them tolerant and fair

Just like you worriеd

They’ll change their group of friеnds

You won’t approve of where they go at night

(to protests)

Oh, and you’ll be disgusted

(so gross)

When they start finding things online

That you’ve kept far from their sight

(like information…)

Guess what?

You’ll still be alright!

We’ll convert your children

Reaching one and all

There’s really no escaping it

’cause even grandma likes Rupaul

And the world’s getting kinder

Gen Z’s gayer than Grindr

Learn to love

Learn to vogue

Face your fate!

We’ll convert your children

Someone’s gotta teach them not to hate

We’re coming for them

We’re coming for your children

We’re coming for them

We’re coming for them

We’re coming for your children

For your children

You’re children will care about

Fairness and justice for others

Your children will work to convert

All their sisters and brothers

Then, soon, we’re almost certain

You’re kids will start convertin’ you!

The gay agenda is coming home

The gay agenda is here!

But you don’t have to worry

’cause there’s nothing wrong with

Standing by our side

Get on board in a hurry

Because the world always needs

A bit more pride

But you don’t have to worry

’cause there’s nothing wrong with

Standing by our side

(The Gay Agenda)

Get on board in a hurry

Because the world always needs

A bit more pride

(The Gay Agenda)

Come on, try a little pride!

We’ll convert your children

Then we’ll turn to you

Giving up the fear inside

Is freeing like you never knew!

Go and see San Francisco!

Go and turn up that disco!

You’ll forget you were ever upset

We’ll convert your children

And make an ally of you yet!

We’ll make an ally of you yet!

We’ll make an ally of you yet!

About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

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