Quiet homophobia

Modifié le : 2019/08/08

Vio­lence is the incom­pe­ten­t’s last refuge. I thought about this sen­tence when I turned my eyes to this church, which was soon trans­formed into lux­u­ri­ous con­dos. Five or six years ago, the Ganymede Vocal Ensem­ble pre­sent­ed itself at a fes­ti­val of sacred music, held at the time at Notre-Dame Basil­i­ca. In the intro­duc­to­ry text pro­vid­ed to the pre­sen­ter, Ganymede’s mem­ber­ship in the gay com­mu­ni­ty was men­tioned. Indeed, one of the mis­sions of this choir is to pro­mote val­ues of respect. When it was our turn, the pre­sen­ter reads the pro­vid­ed speech but skips the sen­tence about homo­sex­u­al­i­ty. The orga­niz­ers had thought it appro­pri­ate to keep this aspect to a min­i­mum since we were in a church. The cho­ris­ters were con­front­ed with a fait accom­pli, in good faith (and with­out pun intend­ed) in front of the audience.

Ganymede’s lead­ers lat­er protest­ed, and the orga­niz­ers apol­o­gized. The fol­low­ing year, they took care to read the entire pre­sen­ta­tion. A small vic­to­ry, there­fore, for us.

It’s not so much that Ganymede is keen to show his mem­ber­ship in the com­mu­ni­ty, espe­cial­ly since it’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly its audi­ence (we still sing clas­si­cal, some­times con­tem­po­rary, it’s not giv­en to every­one, nei­ther among gays nor het­ero­sex­u­als). What is shock­ing, how­ev­er, is that noth­ing is won, or so lit­tle. Cer­tain­ly, homo­sex­u­als in Cana­da now have the law behind them (no pun intend­ed!) and homo­phobes must keep their mouths shut.

But what else ? Here is anoth­er exam­ple. Ganymede has just had the same thing done to him from the basil­i­ca, but this time by a reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty. The con­cert is almost pri­vate and, to make a short sto­ry short, we did­n’t real­ize there that we were liv­ing in “sin.” Nev­er­the­less, the cru­cial small sen­tence was delet­ed from the pre­sen­ta­tion of the pro­gram, and we were informed of this. Will it be pro­nounced oral­ly by the com­men­ta­tor, no one knows, but I doubt it. We are among fundamentalists…

The admin­is­tra­tion of the choir was once again hurt, and the first reac­tions were very emo­tion­al. How­ev­er, we will pre­tend that noth­ing hap­pened. Why ? For sev­er­al rea­sons, the first of which is that we are com­mit­ted, as artists, and that the orga­niz­ers have the right to do what they want (we will turn round cor­ners here). Ganymede does not wish to make a scene, espe­cial­ly since the pub­lic is not, at first glance, respon­si­ble for this sto­ry. They are enti­tled to their show. The sec­ond is that the choir itself lives an end­less jour­ney and ques­tion­ing. Is belong­ing to the gay com­mu­ni­ty still rel­e­vant when two oth­er choirs in Mon­tre­al were born, and they sing more in the taste of the “com­mu­ni­ty”? The ques­tion aris­es all the more so as recruit­ment is more com­pli­cat­ed than ever. Being gay and want­i­ng to sing clas­si­cal music, with equal voic­es (only male voic­es), it becomes very sharp.

Should­n’t Ganymede open up to the rest of the male singers ? He’s already doing it ! Being gay is not a con­di­tion for singing with us ! Last year, we had a record, two het­ero­sex­u­als among the ranks. They are no longer here this year for var­i­ous reasons.

Nev­er­the­less, the dis­com­fort remains. With­out want­i­ng to deny our mem­ber­ship in the com­mu­ni­ty, we know that it is not the dri­ving force behind our will­ing­ness to sing. But… if you touch a fin­ger to your iden­ti­ty, you show your teeth, and right­ly so… The answer will be that pro­mot­ing val­ues of recog­ni­tion and respect has noth­ing to do with the tar­get audi­ence. Thus, if the temp­ta­tion to atten­u­ate our dis­course is explained for rea­sons x, there are rea­sons to remind us that the bat­tle for recog­ni­tion is far from being won. This bat­tle is fought for us, in the face of this qui­et homo­pho­bia, through a mea­sured and calm affirmation.

The church near my house is turn­ing into con­dos. I would like to see his aggres­sive spikes removed, which affirm his cer­tain­ty that has done more harm in his­to­ry than good. Fun­da­men­tal­ists, whether they come from fright­en­ing coun­tries or from our parish­es that are dying, remain fun­da­men­tal­ists, peo­ple who, if they do not want to com­pose and under­stand the world, divert it. Con­grat­u­la­tions to these soci­eties which, through their tol­er­ance, keep believ­ers of all col­ors away from pow­er. Good­ness is about lov­ing your neigh­bor, and that’s what we do, I think.

For Ganymede, the les­son to be found is of course to stip­u­late in its con­tracts that men­tion­ing its ori­gin is non-nego­tiable and that, in the future, one should avoid singing, not in church­es that remain excel­lent con­cert halls, but for some priests (and not all priests are like that), who will remain appalling exam­ples of badness.