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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Loud, Proud and Uncowed

Some Words on Gay Pride.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
OK, they're not really there but they look cool. Rainbow flags over Lincoln Center.
Photo alteration by the author.
For the last week, the blog has been fairly quiet (except for previews and roundups and suchlike) but that's what happens in late June--the season is basically over and we're all taking a deep breath before jumping into the summer festival season both here in New York and in its environs.

Today is also the 45th anniversary of Heritage of Pride, the parade that marches down Fifth Avenue, turns right at the Washington Square Arch and moves down Washington Street, Waverly and Christopher past the Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 police raid and riot that essentially sparked the gay pride movement in these United States.

The world's lamentable and longtime culture of anti-homosexual oppression is woven tightly into the fabric and history of classical music and opera. Composers who died too young include Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who (it is rumored) drank cholera-infected water following an earlier suicide attempt. (The Pathétique Symphony may have been his suicide note.) In the 20th century, composers like François Poulenc, Aaron Copland, Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett had more freedom but still had to guard their personal lives and partners with some caution.

On a personal note, I grew up in Brooklyn, where just being into classical music or opera as a young person made one a bullying target--something that this writer had personal experience with as a young man. Before college,  I kept my opera-going as a child secret on the schoolyard and in the halls of my Manhattan high school--secret from all but my closest and most trusted friends who didn't really care what my Mom and I did on Saturday afternoons at Lincoln Center.

In 21st century America, remarkable progress has been made, with composers, conductors, musicians and singers coming out and living comfortably. Politically speaking, 19 U.S. states (and the District of Columbia) allow same-sex couples to legally marry. Lawsuits being filed in all fifty states to allow the same to happen across this country.

Even with this progress, gay rights activists and their allies have encountered hate speech, bullying and outright violence over the past 45 years, but they keep being heard and keep standing up. Elsewhere in the world, governments like Russia, Uganda and Nigeria have made being gay or living as a gay person carry consequences like imprisonment and even death.

The latest bullying tactic by those wishing to oppress people's freedom and indivudual right to marry whom they choose is to play "victim", to state that they are affected by "gay bullying" and that they have the right of "religious freedom" to exercise discrimination and abuse against anyone whose lifestyle meets with their disapproval. At the same time, these people advocate oppression and a return to those good old American values of hatred--by any means necessary including violence. These tactics are despicable, and will eventually be revealed for the lies that they are.

That said, Superconductor is not about politics. It is a blog about classical music and opera, but also about the people who perform it. So this post is a shout out to my friends, colleagues, readers, professional associates, and fellow music enthusiasts who may be celebrating Heritage of Pride on this glorious summer's day. Today is a day of gladness and joy, and may we all march forward against those who would oppress.

It's your day. Enjoy it!

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats