Bullying the Met Opera is not a way to treat a gay ally


Most Americans already agree that the new law banning gay expression and propaganda by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is draconian, oppressive, discriminatory and against the human rights of the LGBT community.  The United Nations yesterday (August 19) issued a statement to Russia and Moldova to repeal those laws. Leaders of countries, including Pres. Obama, have made strong statements against those laws.  Countless individuals have taken stands.


Which brings me to the MET Opera, and the current controversy over a petition that is trying to force the MET to turn their production of Eugene Onegin into a political statement for gay rights.  The gist of the argument is that:

a. Tchaikovsky is a Russian composer–a gay one–and Eugene Onegin is a Russian story

b.  Anna Netrebko (soprano) and Valery Gergiev (conductor) are Russians who have vocally supported Putin in the past.  Let’s make them prove their loyalty.

c.  The oppressive law from Putin needs a huge American venue to vocalize our anger at Russia.  The Met looks dandy.

Some have already pointed out that the MET is not a battleground for arguing a composer’s beliefs and opinions.  Who would perform Wagner if his beliefs were paramount to enjoying the music?

Just because a) Tchaikovsky is a gay Russian composer doesn’t mean the MET has to take a political stand.  The nature of Art is that it is in itself a political stand.  Let Eugene Onegin speak for itself.  It’s a powerful work.  Onegin’s disrespect for a whole group of people makes him pass up true love and end up alone.  That speaks volumes.

The petition names the conductor, Gergiev, and the diva soprano, Netrebko, as “supporters in the past of Mr. Putin”.  In the past, I have been a supporter of US policy.  Does that make me a supporter of Bush?  Or current laws produced by Congress?  No.  Does that make me like everything that Obama does?  I can’t go to Canada and tell them that I agree with how Obama is treating Canada economically.  Netrebko, the soprano, has voiced her LGBT support (prompted by the threat of LGBT backlash!).  Are we requiring a show of loyalty to gays?  Prove to us, we seem to say, that you support gays by denouncing Putin and dedicating your performance to LGBT people.  That’s like asking Obama to wear a flagpin to PROVE he’s patriotic and that he loves America.  Why can’t he just say he loves America?  Because some people want him to bow to pressure.  It was silly then; it’s silly now.  Punishing Netrebko and Gergiev based on PAST support of Putin–when they have said nothing in support of those current anti-gay laws–is wrong.  It’s bullying.

The Met Opera c) is not a handy vehicle for your political expression.  It can be a vehicle for political expression by the director of the Opera being produced, or by the MET itself, but it doesn’t have to be.  It’s their choice to show support, not our choice.  If it’s forced, it’s not real.  Further: The Art itself is powerful.  Adding statements to the art diminishes the art.

But what have you done for me lately, Met Opera?  What the MET already does for LGBT people:

The Metropolitan Opera gives LGBT people the opportunity that Russia never gave Tchaikovsky: the ability to be an out performer, an out stagehand, an out composer, costume designer, etc.  It gives LGBT people jobs and freedom of expression.  Russia still DOES NOT offer this.

The MET has performed operas with gay themes:  Billy Budd for example.  Sure, I’d love it if directors substituted men in women’s roles to shake things up a bit (as easily as those who direct Shakespeare do), but composers have written for ranges, not genders, specifically.  Music must sound harmonic and beautiful.  You just can’t have, usually, a man replacing a woman in a role.  However, the opera does often cast women in male roles that sometimes require higher vocal ranges–and so, onstage, one gets to see what looks like a lesbian romance (see Anna Bolena, for example, where the man in love with Anna Bolena is played by a woman, and Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito, and multiple other operas I have seen).

At the MET, they would have no problem staging and performing a well-written opera WITH gay themes.  Write a Billy Budd.  Write a lyrical, thoughtful version of the AIDS crisis, or of Fred Phelps, or Greg Louganis, or Ellen…. the MET might produce it on its artistic merits.  Try that in Moscow.

They are already a gay ally.  Forcing them to dedicate the night to gays in Russia, or turning over proceeds, or making Netrebko and Gergiev meet and greet with LGBT people to prove loyalty is too much.  It’s like saying, I don’t believe GLAAD cared enough for Katrina victims.  I’m going to require them to turn over proceeds of GLAAD events, verbally show support, help out in the clean-up of Katrina, etc.  Or maybe I should start requiring all American opera singers to denounce the oppressive economic foreign trade policies of Obama whenever they perform in an international venue.  Will that be enough?  Are performers required to make political statements before every performance?  No, they are required to be artists and to be damn good at what they do, not appease the morals of majorities or minorities in the causes they have.  I’m happy if Sting says something in support of a cause I care about, but I won’t stop buying Sting’s CDs if he doesn’t verbally say something I want to hear.  I want to hear him sing.  I want to hear Anna Netrebko sing.


I find the current culture of celebrity/organizational bullying (especially by the LGBT community) to be unacceptable.  We have far more effective means at our disposal besides bullying.  We have targeted a Latvian producer of vodka, Stoli–whose CEO is a gay ally–to dump in protest of Russia.  This neither hurts Russia, nor does it hurt an anti-gay supporter.  It hurts an ally.  The argument that this raises the issue in the consciousness of your average person is unproven.  No one can say that the dumping of Stoli is solely responsible for raising awareness of the anti-gay Russian policies.  The news has reported on this quite a bit.  And they got it from Twitter or from their reporters or from other sources.  They didn’t have to watch someone dump Stoli to suddenly become a capable reporter.  It’s a argument fallacy to say that one thing causes another if there is no direct proof.  (see post hoc ergo proctor hoc in any English textbook)  A graph of awareness is not proof of direct cause.  Anymore than I could say that Dan Savage’s tweets alone caused the awareness to shift.

Yes, I know it’s a petition, not a law requiring compliance.  But there’s been talk of booing the performance, of holding the MET accountable, of withdrawing support, and right now creating a lot of bad media about the MET.  Asking me to help is one thing: berating me when I say no is not.

As a gay man, I appreciate vocal support.  I do not require it from every person who comes on TV, every ad, every organization.  Sometimes, organizations show support by BEING supportive.  Not by wearing a rainbow pin.  Opera has given us music, story, relationships, history, comfort, excitement, Art in the highest form, allowed LGBT artists to be themselves (in this country, definitely)–it has done more to transform LGBT lives for hundreds of years than one gala night of verbalized, forced support could ever do.  And if the MET is forced to comply with the oppressive tactics of some in the LGBT community, then our community will become the dictatorship, limiting freedom of expression, and forcing compliance and obedience in everyone around us.  If we become those who judge others based on whether they promote and shout out their support of us, then we have proven that we are a fragile community, reliant on fear and intimidation to get our way, always insecure even inside of a country that is on a steady march to full equality.  We will have proven that Bush adage: “If you are not with us, you are against us.”  That brought us a war.  In that moment we force idelogical obedience, we become the Putins.

20 thoughts on “Bullying the Met Opera is not a way to treat a gay ally

  1. Jeff Rudel August 20, 2013 / 9:59

    This is an important conversation–and a complex debate–about the role of artistic institutions in world politics. Though I disagree with your stance, I find your arguments on the subject to be some of the most thoughtful and well articulated I’ve read.

    While the Met’s long-standing track record of support for their gay artists, composers, and employees is quite admirable, their tepid response is disappointing. The petition isn’t asking for anyone to be fired. It’s not asking for any money. (Those types of petitions can sometimes be “bullying,” in my opinion). It simply asks for a strong public statement denouncing the human rights violations in Russia. Orchestras, ballet companies, and opera companies make millions of dollars every year off the compositions of Tchaikovsky. Since Tchaik won’t see a penny of the royalties, the Met could *at least* take a stand, and affirm their desire to see an end to discrimination.

    • jstueart August 20, 2013 / 9:59

      I appreciate your reply. Thank you. I don’t think anyone or any organization should be required to take a stand. If they want, they can. But why is it up to you or us to require them to take a stand? And what exactly will make people happy? A note on the website? A call out from the stage? Will folks require Anna to do photo ops with GLAAD? I just think we can’t be the arbiter of “the right thing”. We can only speak for ourselves, not force others to do what we feel is the right thing.

      • Jeff Rudel August 20, 2013 / 9:59

        Are they required to take a stand? No. BUT, the public will admire and respect an organization that shows courage and conviction.

        That’s the beauty of the situation. We can ask them to take a stand … we can petition them and urge them. We can say “there are 6000 of us who will stand by you, and respect you if you make a strong public statement.” Battles for civil rights are fought and won incrementally, by changing hearts and minds. The Met has a great platform to accomplish this … and even if they don’t do anything, the media and the people around the country are engaged in the debate and discussion! It’s a wonderful thing.

      • jstueart August 20, 2013 / 9:59

        We shouldn’t respect them less because they don’t take the opportunity we are forcing down their throat. Hurry, be publicly nice and we will applaud you. But if you aren’t when we tell you to we will disrespect you. Why don’t you ask every organization to do this? It’s only because a) they are putting on a Russian opera, b) with Russian stars, and c) the Met would be a nice megaphone. Otherwise why wouldn’t we be asking everyone? Just because the Met has a nice platform doesn’t mean they will use it to promote human rights when they perform Nixon in China or climate Change when they perform the Tempest. It’s their platform and they decide. Who really are you to say–you have a platform, you must use it as I tell you to?

      • Jeff Rudel August 20, 2013 / 9:59

        I would ask everyone. We should ask everyone to speak out against human rights violations and discrimination. Someone else wrote, “It would be nice to see the Met, opening its season with a Russian opera, by a gay Russian composer, performed by several prominant Russians … it would be nice to see them recognize in some way the injustice in Russia.” I realize that the gala was planned years before the political climate in Russia reached its boiling point … but how could the Met ignore the egregious and disgusting happenings? And then proceed to throw a huge Russian-themed gala? An affirmative statement could go a long way, and I don’t think it is unreasonable to request one given these particular circumstances.

      • jstueart August 20, 2013 / 9:59

        Well I hear you but I don’t agree. It’s still what YOU think they should do. And now it’s a public request, so there is pressure and shaming involved. If you were just asking, you would have sent a private email. By this very public petition, and the media it’s drawn, you are putting the MET into a headlock. You say you’d ask anyone, but the petition is just the MET. And that’s because they are doing Tchaikovsky. If the Met hadn’t chosen a Russian composer, you wouldn’t be asking. That just makes organizations want to avoid the controversy and not choose Russian at all. And that’s unfair. The Met has a lot more to worry about than pleasing you. If you turn every performance into a political statement, the pressure would never end for the MET. They’d be hostage to the next “reasonable request” for a statement and the next and next. It would not end. Someone’s always asking someone to stand up for breast cancer or the environment or Darfur or climate change or Sandy victims or something. People should make their own stands and not bow to pressure, no matter how “important” the cause.

    • Jeff Rudel August 20, 2013 / 9:59

      Just for a moment, we could refocus our attention. The Met in this scenario doesn’t actually matter. Their choice of opera, the conductor, the leading lady … they all (in)conveniently press a hot button issue. The important thing is that people are talking about it and engaging in healthy debate. Unfortunately, Gelb is so busy trying to do damage control, he’s missing the bigger picture. Rather than trying to diffuse the situation and sweep it under the rug, why not say, “This is an important issue, and one that I’m conflicted about. Let’s talk about it.” Frankly, I can’t imagine any artist (or great artistic institution) that succeeds by trying to create their art in a bubble, ignorant of current events. It seems cowardly to shy away from it.

      • jstueart August 20, 2013 / 9:59

        They just didn’t make the choice you wanted, I think. They’re only doing damage control because they’re under pressure from LGBT supporters. They aren’t USED to making political statements. That’s not their function. They make operas. If they made a statement, they put their Russian performers and conductor in a worse position as the pressure would turn to them to make a statement. I used to work for an arts centre as the marketing and public relations person. We couldn’t make ANY political stand. We endangered performers, staff, and future funding. There’s no need for the opera to make any stand. It’s just 4000 people being coerced into believing the Met needs to.

      • Jeff Rudel August 20, 2013 / 9:59

        Denouncing human rights violations is not a political stand. It’s not like backing a candidate for office, or choosing sides about abortion or gun laws. There are lives at stake. Liberty and freedom are not controversial issues. If the Met stands up for these basic values, it would not endanger any performer or conductor affiliated with the company.

  2. Andrew Rudin August 20, 2013 / 9:59

    When I started the petition it was largely out of my sense of sadness and dismay that all this had come together in such an unfortunate confluence. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was thrilled that Russian opera, the genuine article, sung my singers for whom the language was their own, conducted by those who grew up with the traditon… getting to see things like The Gambler, and War and Peace, Shostakovich, Borodin, Mussorgsky, Tchaikowsky…. I loved it. And still do. And Eugene Onegin is an opera I love like few others. I was greatly looking forward to this new production, planned as we all know, years ago. Then along come the villainies of Vladimir Putin. I can see that there is no one here defending HIS role in all of this. And I doubt very seriously that Netrebko and Gergiev could have imagined when they sought to bouy their own artistic careers by being poster children for his 2012 re-election, that something this drastic and close to home would be in the works. So now… what DO they do? I don’t envy them. If Renée Fleming were showing up at Rand Paul rallies and lending her image and her voice to promoting him, I’d expect HER to explain herself as well. If she merely personally believes in his ideas and doesn’t use her reputation to burnish his…. I’m good with it. It’s Netrebko and most of all Gergiev, with his deep ties to the Sochi Olympics who have perhaps unwittingly made this into a political situation. But I take issue with the term “Bullying” that leads off this discussion. There ARE those who’ve signed the petition who DO demand and insist that the Met MUST do this. My petition only requests that the Met take a positive and supportive stance for LGBT people everywhere, as they perform Russian music by the most famous of homosexual composers at this time of great crisis. After all, Netrebko and Gergiev make their living from his creations, and do so not only in Russia but upon the international stage. I’d like to think that they are in that sense international citizens, mindful that most of the world opposes Putin’s current measures. If, as Gelb insists, the Met is proud of it’s record of support for gay people (I can’t think of an instance where this might be obviously demonstrated, but perhaps I’m forgetful), then what would be the problem of doing so now? Would it really diminish the Met in the eyes of the world to have been seen as endorsing a basic human rights principle at a time when it is imperiled? And no, I do NOT believe that any and every political issue deserves even so mild a gesture as this. In the best of all possible worlds the arts should be able to go about their business without the troubling interference of politics, which WILL eventually come and go. But, the examples of Richard Strauss and Furtwangler, two towering figures who calculated that politics was transitory and “ars longa” are sad examples of what can happen. Many signers of the petition point out that were, instead of LGBT rights, we were talking about racial apartheid, or Jews, the discussion would be different. But, at one time not so long ago, it probably would NOT have been. Regardless of the ultimate result of all this, I’m proud that I set it in motion, even to provoke the devil’s advocacy neccessary to test an idea.

    • jstueart August 20, 2013 / 9:59

      I appreciate you writing in, Mr. Rudin. You took some time with your thoughts and I’d like to reply in kind tomorrow morning. I do appreciate having the chance to dialogue with you and my other poster, Jeff Rudel. I briefly noted and responded to the other post you just posted–I think it was from someone who put that on your petition. To me it signifies what kind of awful weapon a “request” can be in the hands of a mob. To make the Met Opera pay for Putin’s laws is wrongheaded and wrong-focused. They’ve done nothing wrong, save not comply.

      But I’d like a chance to answer your message here tomorrow. It deserves a longer answer. Thank you.

  3. Andrew Rudin August 20, 2013 / 9:59

    This interesting comment from a recent signer to the petition states something very close to my own attitude: > (Robert Richmann SAN DIEGO, CA)

  4. Andrew Rudin August 20, 2013 / 9:59

    Dedicating the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera season to the LGBT community worldwide is a humanitarian, not a political gesture, as claimed by Peter Gelb. It neither criticizes Ms. Netrebko and Maestro Gergiev nor does it compel them to alter their own political beliefs or affiliations in any way. It does not take an anti-Russian stance. It merely affirms the Met’s commitment to basic human rights for all. Would Peter Gelb have found it too political a gesture to dedicate an opening night of the Met in solidarity with Jewish victims of persecution in Nazi Germany (many of whom were artists and musicians) in the 1930s and 1940s? This strike me as an untenable stance. If Mr. Gelb cannot see the simple reasoning behind this request, then I for one cannot see the HD broadcast of an event that refuses to acknowledge the suffering of LGBT people in Russia, and I will boycott it. And I encourage others to do the same, as this is the real money maker for the Met these days.

    • jstueart August 20, 2013 / 9:59

      Really? The boycott if this person doesn’t get his/her way? How is this a request anymore? This is a demand for compliance. And a wish to hurt the Met financially for not kowtowing to the “request”. Mr Rudin, what part of this do you agree with again?

  5. jstueart August 21, 2013 / 9:59

    I believe you had a sincere request of the MET. I think if it were to stay a sincere request it might have been better as a private email to the CEO. When they said no, as they might have, they would have explained why an arts organization—a venue that works with multiple organizations, multiple nationalities, and dependent on funders of multiple beliefs and political ideologies–cannot make a political statement. A composer, a director, a star can make a personal statement–but an arts organization can’t get into the habit of making personal statements about hot button topics. Despite everyone’s assertion that you are just asking them to speak on behalf of a human right—you are also asking them to condemn the President of Russia. I can see why the MET believes that publicly condemning an international political figure would be a “political” statement.

    I was the marketing director and public relations face of an arts organization. Accidentally, I waded into an environmental controversy when I encouraged an environmental group to sponsor a show. Knowing that they needed to promote their cause to make the sponsorship worthwhile and affordable, we came up with the idea that the Peel Watershed–a controversial piece of land that the Yukon government, mining groups, First Nations groups and environmental groups fought over–would “sponsor” the show. I thought that having a piece of land, a river, sponsor the show would be a fun way to look afresh at this issue–and take a breather. However, when the controversy heated up, and the government and environmental group argued louder in the news, and the numbers of protests and people involved grew, suddenly with posters around our city that said the Peel Watershed was sponsoring our show, it looked as if the Arts Centre I worked for was taking a stand.

    Immediately, we got calls from patrons who threatened to boycott our show. We also got calls from those who worked for the government saying they couldn’t come to the show if it meant an implicit stand for the Peel Watershed–as they worked for the government who was embroiled in this controversy and they feared losing their jobs, or if they were government officials, facing backlash from the people.

    As the arts centre was in Canada, and a non-profit organization, and we depended on government money, my boss came to me asking for me to fix this situation I had inadvertently caused, as it could mean the end of our arts organization. Suddenly, an innocent stand for a very good cause threatened an arts centre that needed to last past the one enivironmental cause. My boss, a well-seasoned arts administrator, told me something I never forgot. “We can’t take political stands, no matter how good the cause. In the end we are an organization that represents all the people, and for that reason, we have to stay neutral. Directors and artists can take stands, but we can’t.” We ended up placing the environmental group on the poster as well, so that they could be the group that was taking the stand, and I was lucky that we weren’t trying to fill our major auditorium of 428 seats. It was a smaller venue of 100.

    We are able to give money to registered charities. But the current LGBT struggle in Russia is a political one. A despot, who finds ways of staying in power and crushing those who oppose him, has decided to persecute a minority. His public shirtless pics in an attempt to graft virility onto tyranny belie a conflicted, insecure man. What he is doing is wrong. People are outraged and for a good reason—LGBT people are suffering, and are being tortured and killed, all sanctioned by the Russian government. Putin passed laws to make this happen. This is a political situation. It’s being countered by political methods. Other governments have excoriated Putin, diplomatic meetings have been canceled, people are withdrawing support, and good debate is happening over Sochi (I for one think we should move it to Vancouver, not boycott the games).

    My question is: What did the MET do wrong? What sins have they committed? They were not required to take a stand to produce a Russian opera. They are not required to answer your petition. They are an arts organization without which the nation would suffer a loss of great music and great opera. As the premier venue for Opera in America, they are funded to be able to produce operas in a way that most other opera houses could not. They aren’t Starbucks or Amazon—they are dependent on funding from ticket sales, individual donors, private corporations. They struggle–as I’ve read their financial reports and know that they have struggled to produce the season the nation expects them to produce and their patrons expect. So a boycott hurts.

    A boycott of the Met says, “You did something bad. You have wronged the LGBT community. Now, you will be punished.” A boycott may hurt the MET. Certainly the bad publicity generated by your public petition is hurting the MET. I think this is misplaced frustration and anger over Putin’s laws and feeling powerless to stop him. Why an Opera House has become the central lynchpin of a campaign against Putin, I don’t know. But everyone acts as if the MET is the only, and most devastating way, to hurt Putin. In reality, it will mean nothing to Putin. Or to the gays in Russia. It will only mean something to the 4000 signers on your petition. And it will only mean something to them for a few days. It may not be enough. There may be a Jacobin reaction—where once the MET gives in and makes a statement, that the mob asks for Netrebko and Gergiev to make separate statements condemning Putin and their home governments, but then maybe that won’t be enough either. Maybe the mob you started by making a public instead of a private request will ask for MET proceeds to go to gays in Russia. Even after there is full compliance—and I’ve seen this—there will be public media disgruntlement that it took the MET so long to “finally” make the statement. There will never be happiness from this petition, I daresay. And the only one who will be hurt is our gay ally, the Metropolitan Opera and Netrebko and Gergiev for “performing while Russian.” Certainly Renee Fleming has performed for George W. Bush and comes from Texas. Should other nations during Bush’s reign, 2000-2008, have boycotted Fleming, or asked her to publicly denounce the policies of Bush? Should they have boycotted her venues, burned her CDs, etc. Can you blame Fleming for being a good American for performing for her President? We believe that Fleming had a choice, but we know Russia is not America, and we know that Netrebko’s and Gergiev’s “choices” may not be equivalent to our own. They may have had little choice but to do what Putin wanted or see their careers fall or face other consequences one faces when one publicly denounces one’s home country.

    While you SAY you want to distance yourself from those who are calling on boycott, and making demands, and I believe you, let me use a little Rudin strategy.

    I’m asking you to make a public statement to those who signed the petition that you are NOT calling for a boycott, and that you would have no involvement or encouragement for the LGBT community to boycott a gay ally. Your petition is merely a request that can be turned down and will have no consequences on the Met itself, nor on Netrebko, nor on Gergiev.

    It’s a simple statement. There’s no consequence to you at all. But if you let the 4000 bully the Met into compliance, you will be to blame for the consequences to the MET and to Netrebko and Gergiev. And that might have consequences for you. (See how this sounds like a threat…and yet it seems so reasonable.)

    I appreciate the chance to dialogue with you, and hope you will consider making the statement so that the MET is free to make the stand or not, on their own decisions, without pressure or risk, as each of us make a stand. That freedom to make a stand is a freedom–not an order or demand. If an organization cannot make that stand, we need to remember that everyone who is NOT against us is for us. Certainly, the MET has proven itself to be gay-friendly long before being gay friendly was practiced widely, or practiced as a political statement.

  6. jstueart August 21, 2013 / 9:59

    Your petition falsely claims that Netrebko and Gergiev support Putin’s anti-gay laws. Where’s the proof? That’s slander. And your whole petition is based on Netrebko and Gergiev being anti-gay—and yet you have no proof and there is no proof for it. That’s wrong, Andrew. You have to change that in your petition. It’s a lie and therefore your request is based on a lie. Is that what you want?

  7. dwesley4592 August 22, 2013 / 9:59

    Very thorough and insightful stuff Jerome. Keep it up!

  8. Scott Rose August 27, 2013 / 9:59

    The real issue here is the main result from the Met dedicating its opening night gala to support of LGBTers. That would send the message to LGBTers in Russia that the world is not just going to abandon them to a regime that is scapegoating them for political gain. People who ask if Gelb would have dedicated a Met opening night to Jews being persecuted by Nazis should perhaps look at history as a guide. When the U.S. State Department first verified that 2 million Jews had been killed in Poland, the story was reported on inside pages of The Washington Post and The New York Times. Word that the stories had been reported there filtered back to some leaders of (Nazi-controlled) Jewish Councils in occupied Europe — and the Jews there took it as a sign of hope that somebody would try to do something for them. But, the leader of Reform Judaism in the U.S., Rabbi Stephen Wise, so feared antisemitic backlash in — what was at the time, a very antisemitic US society — that he got other reform leaders, rabbis et cetera NOT to say anything about confirmation of the mass murders of Jews in Europe. By contrast, Peter Bergson — aka Hillel Kook — could not believe that it was impossible for the US State Department to do anything. He organized a show — in which Paul Robeson participated — called “We Will Never Die.” First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt saw it, and liked it, and even wrote about it in her column — but later after Bergson criticized FDR for inaction, FDR let Bergson know through Eleanor that he was very displeased with his public pronouncements. Meanwhile in the State Department, Breckenridge Long — an antisemite — made it impossible for Jews trapped in Eastern Europe to get visas to the US. By exerting a lot of continuing pressure, Bergson years later got the US State Department to create a war refugees board that is estimated to have saved 200,000 people. But, it also happened in this period that a group of Orthodox rabbis held a march on Washington to ask for help for the Jews in Nazi Europe. FDR refused to meet with those rabbis, in part on the advice of people like Stephen Wise — who feared that if Americans associated Orthodox rabbis with Jews generally, and if the US made a special effort to rescue Jews, there would be anti-semitic backlash in the US. (Btw; Dustin Hoffman is the narrator of “Against the Tide,” a documentary about Peter Bergson).

    As Andrew stated above, his petition just asks the Met to express solidarity with LGBTers. It is dismaying that the Met has chosen the side of silence, of leaving the victims to languish, unsupported. It wouldn’t be at all brave for the Met to dedicate its opening night to support of LGBTers; it would simply be the right thing for the Met to do. And, doing it would no more expose the Met to losing tax exempt status than does playing the Star Spangled Banner on opening night.

  9. jstueart September 23, 2013 / 9:59

    Scott, just because an organization doesn’t do what you want, doesn’t mean they’re an enemy. My comments above yours still stand. Any protest tonight at the Met will be bullying. Mr. Rudin’s petition falsely claimed the stars of the show support Putin’s draconian anti-gay laws. The act of protest is everyone’s right, but used because of false claims, it is bullying.

    And the Met doesn’t have to say the words you want it to say. No Russian LGBTs will be helped or harmed by the Met’s stand. I can argue all I want that Dan Savage dedicate his next big New York show–his premiere–to Muscular Dystrophy or the Gay Christian Network and if he doesn’t dedicate, it doesn’t mean he hates kids with Muscular Dystrophy or Gay Christians. It’s his choice.

    It’s Putin that’s the problem, not every PRO-GAY organization that decides to have a Russian night of music. Bullying pro-gay allies is a horrible use of gay power. Bullying them because they don’t make a statement for our cause doesn’t make us right, or them wrong. It damages a pro-gay alliance; it damages our credibility; it damages the Opera.

  10. Micah F. Vargas November 11, 2013 / 9:59

    Staten Island LGBT Community Center http://www.silgbtcenter.org/gaystatenislandgroups/ Staten Island: 25 Victory Blvd 3rd Floor (718) 808-1360 Various transgender support groups occur throughout the year supporting transgender and gender non-conforming individuals of all ages. Currently there are weekly groups for transgender teens, and parents of transgender people, and monthly meetings for transgender adults. Please call for meeting times and other information.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s