Opera singer faces anti-gay taunt during national anthem

Opera Australia principal artist Kanen Breen was singing the national anthem at the FIBA Oceania Championships in Melbourne, wearing a rainbow-like tie when an audience member shouted ‘faggot!’

His partner and fellow-singer Jacqui Dark writes:

rainbow tiekanen breen

 

I was in the middle of a show at the Opera House and myself and all of his colleagues were incredibly proud of him and were running offstage when we could to try to catch a glimpse of him televised live on Channel 9. I had friends poised to tape it in case I missed it, and his family were set to travel from the country to watch him perform.

He nailed the anthem. He looked fantastic. He also wore a snazzy rainbow tie to show his support for marriage equality, an issue on which the government of this country is embarrassingly backward. He finished and stepped back to rousing applause. The applause died down and a solitary, angry male voice in the crowd yelled ‘Faggot!’.

I am beyond stunned by this. Beyond hurt and beyond angry. He took it in his stride, texting me that it had happened and adding ‘My work here is done.’. I found myself unable to accept it with such grace, and then found myself wondering why this was so. The sad conclusion I have reached is that he can accept it because it happens to him every day. Every. Day. Stop to consider that – imagine that every time you leave the house, you’re resigned to the fact that you’ll cop abuse from complete strangers. That you could be standing in a silence in front of 15 000 people – the most vulnerable a performer will ever be – and be shot down by a pathetic, cowardly word. I sometimes see it: When we’re walking down the street and a stranger sneers “Nice pants”, or when he’s riding on the train with our son and an ignorant bigot yells out “Oh, look – the poofter’s got a baby!” I’m outraged every time and can’t believe that this is 2015 Australia. He shrugs it off and occasionally tells me if there’s a really bad event. I find this sadder than the abuse itself. That people are walking around every day expecting to be abused. Resigned to it. USED to it. This appalls me beyond words.

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  • This of course made all the more disturbing that Kanen’s talent is only matched by how liked and respected he is in a business which often isn’t too kind to it’s own he’s one of the few people who brings out the best in those around him professionally and personally.

  • As an Aussie opera lover and admirer of Kanen Breen Im appalled and embarrassed by this but hardly surprised. Such bigots exist in every society incl mine, and with the current discussion going on nationally about whether Aust should catch up with the rest of the Western world on marriage equality, it brings such people out of the woodwork to vent their fears in such ways. Kudos to Kanen for handling it with grace.

  • What bothers me most now, which some of you might find trivial in comparison, is how gays managed in the first place to hog the rainbow as their symbol and uniform, and no one can wear anything to do with rainbows for fear of being mistaken for being gay and making statements and also be on the receiving end of abuse – or sing ‘Somewhere over a Rainbow’ in a concert since that has been hijacked as well… I had a lovely rainbow frock in my wardrobe from years gone by, and had to give it away as it was in appropriate to wear it as someone who isn’t gay.

    • Thank goodness you posted your problem Una, because I have the perfect solution. You can still wear the dress and sing the song. Just get a big tattoo across your face saying “It’s OK! I’m not gay!”

    • Kudos on making this all about you. We get abuse and systemic discrimination literally for being who we are, and your biggest concern – which you decided to post *on an article about a gay man facing homophobic abuse* – is “won’t someone think of the straight people and their loss of the rainbow?”

    • I completely agree with you “UNA”. Considering we have been hogging the rainbow for various purposes since the 9th century, I too find it bothering that the gays now want part of it for themselves. For shame!
      As for your discontent with the gays leading this brazen appropriation of the “Over the Rainbow” song, even the rainbow itself (oh, and the business with your forsaken frock of course), I suggest you start by reading this Wikipedia article – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroticism – after which you may wish to seek out further assistance.

  • I suppose he could have burst into “Una furtive lagrima,” then said that he thought he heard a request for an aria with a *fagott.*

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