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.