The LGBTQ+ community, and especially the BIPOC LGBTQ+ community, have always been an integral part of the classical music community. To celebrate Pride 2020, we wanted to highlight some historic and modern figures, art, and organizations that have inspired us and so many others. If you haven't listened to our podcast episode this week, you can listen to it here.
People to Know
Sylvia Rivera & Marsha P. Johnson
Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson are two transgender women of color who spent their lives fighting for social and economic justice both together and individually.
Rivera and Johnson notably co-founded STAR, a group dedicated to helping homeless young drag queens, gay youth, and trans women. Together they fought for the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights.
Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson's activist work laid down the groundwork upon which we can celebrate Pride openly in 2020. To read more about Marsha P. Johnson, click here. To read more about Sylvia Rivera, click here.
Manuela Trasobares is a Spanish transgender opera singer, director, painter, sculptor, and politician. A true renaissance woman, Trasobares has performed as a mezzo-soprano in major opera houses across Spain.
In addition to her work as an artist, she is the first Spanish transgender town councilor in Geldo with the political party Acción Republicana Democrática Española.
To stay up to date and watch her perform, follow her on Facebook.
Soprano Teiya Kasahara is the artist behind The Queen in Me, an opera that takes a unique, in depth look at the The Queen of the Night.
The opera uses a combination of spoken word, Mozart’s score, and other famous soprano music, and is inspired by Kasahara's discovery and exploration of her " gender queerness over the last eight or nine years."
Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin became the third Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera in September 2018.
As an openly gay man and incredibly accomplished artist, he is a positive contrast to the complex leading figures that came before him, notably James Levine and Leonard Bernstein.
Hailed as “one of the most powerful and beautiful baritone voices you could hear,” American baritone Lucia Lucas is making waves on the operatic mainstages.
She is the first known trans woman to sing a principal role on an American opera stage. To learn more about Lucia's career and her historic performance of Don Giovanni at Tulsa Opera, visit her website here.
Tona Brown has an international career as a violinist, mezzo soprano and has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. She was the first African-American transgender woman ever to perform at Carnegie Hall and perform for a sitting president, Barack Obama. Ms. Brown is also an advocate for transgender issues and the arts and speaks and performs for major events on the east coast.
To learn more and stay up to date on Tona Brown's historic career, visit her website here.
Operas to Check Out
Fellow Travelers is an opera by Gregory Spears with the libretto by Greg Pierce. Based off Thomas Mallon's book of the same name, Fellow Travelers centers on the love affair between two men working for the federal government during the McCarthy Era. Though the two main characters are fictional, they represent the 1,200 Federal employees (men & women) who were confirmed/ suspected to be, or suspected to even associate with homosexuals during the McCarthy Era. The opera is easily available to stream through Spotify, with an in depth study guide by The Boston Lyric Opera available here.
Composed by Whitney George with libretto by Lila Palmer, Julie is a a short opera film based on the life of Julie d’Aubigny, a swashbuckling, bisexual swordswoman and opera singer alive during the 17th-century. Commissioned by New Camerata Opera, Julie will premiere on YouTube on Thursday, June 4, 2020 at 4PDT / 7EDT.
Music Podcasts to Listen To
Hosts Dalanie and Katie talk about being black in the classical music industry, black excellence in classical music, and leave listeners with a “piece of the week” to listen to.
Hosted by opera singer Angela Brown and music sociologist Joshua Thompson, Melanated Moments in Classical Music discusses musical works composed by, for, and about people of color.
Organizations to Support
Black Visions Collective is committed to a long term vision in which ALL Black lives not only matter, but are able to thrive. Through the development of powerful strategic campaigns, they seek to expand the power of Black people across the Twin Cities metro area and Minnesota.
The Okra Project has many connections with the theatre community and other artistic spaces. We use these connections to provide Black Trans people with completely free opportunities to view performances in some of the most renowned Off-Broadway houses. All attendees receive a chef-prepared prepackaged meal along with their theatre ticket.
GLSEN (pronounced “glisten”) is a national organization committed to ensuring safe schools for all LGBTQ students. It was founded in 1990 by a group of teachers in Massachusetts who came together to improve an education system that too frequently allows its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning students to be bullied or discriminated against.
As we celebrate Pride this month and continue to advocate for BIPOC within the LGBTQ+ community, we will continually update this list to include more figures, art, and organizations you should know about! As always, if you have something/ someone you would like to see on this list, comment below or send us a DM.
Michelle (she/her) & Jessie (she/her)