To say that my Arctic Circle Expedition/Residency was a life-changing experience feels like an understatement. As my fellow artists and ...
Being a straight, married guy, I might not fit the traditional mould of what you’d expect as an LGBTQ activist. But I’m proud to wear that label! For me, the persecution of the LGBTQ community anywhere in this vast world is a clear violation of basic, universal human rights. Anyone who espouses this persecution is doing so on no rational merit (and sorry religious folks, your book of prayer saying otherwise does not count). Canada’s former prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, said it best, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” Why are our newscasts still bombarded with stories of LGBTQ persecution?
Like many other areas of human rights and social justice causes that I feel strongly about, LGBTQ issues have found their way into my compositional output. Here’s an example…
diskrminatsiya is a composition based on the cultural and governmental discrimination of the LGBTQ community in Russia. For me, this composition has become a big part of my life. After it’s premiere in London, I produced a recording of it last year to be included on my soon-to-be-released album, The Current Agenda. Chris and Vincenzo also made this awesome video that I’m so proud to have my music associated with.
Because of this project, I’ve continued to follow the news about the plight of the LGBTQ community in Russia. Trying to get past the headlines about movies being banned and far-right politicians shooting off at the mouth, I did a little more digging and was shocked to learn that there are actually 77 countries in the world where it is illegal to be a homosexual. And here’s another shocker for you, Russia is NOT one of those countries!
Russia and some of the other former Soviet bloc countries have “anti-propaganda” laws on the books making it illegal to talk about these issues. Which I guess is not much better than the other 77 countries. I find the list of countries shockingly long, especially in this day and age where popular culture continues to show openly gay people in perfectly normal relationships. Nothing is to be feared, there is no unseen threat.
That being said, we still live in precarious times in many places in the world where being openly gay is life-threatening. And even though it’s reassuring that we live in a world where the majority of countries don’t have anti-gay laws on the books, that doesn’t mean LGBTQ people don’t live in fear, as my composition demonstrates. Even in open-minded Canada, some people can’t be themselves and still fear repercussions within their own communities and families.
So there’s still much work to do, both at home and abroad. And like all important causes of human rights, it’s something that we all need to be aware of and work to make better all year – not just pride month!
PS. If you have not seen the movie, “Pride”, watch it! It’s on Netflix right now. If it doesn’t touch your heart, nothing will!