Bisexual pride will rule Britannia at BBC’s Last Night of the Proms

Bisexual pride will rule Britannia at BBC’s Last Night of the Proms


norman lebrecht

September 01, 2019

The outspoken US soprano Jamie Barton, in conversation today with Fiona Maddocks:

You’ve revealed you’ll be wearing the bisexual pride colours of lavender, pink and blue at the Last Night… tell us more.
I’m so thrilled about the dress – and the Last Night! I never dreamt I’d be asked to do this gig. It’s 50 years since the anniversary of Stonewall. It’s so important for me to stand up proudly as a bisexual woman. What I can tell you is that the main colour of the dress will be pewter, with a cape element, a bubble sleeve – and a reveal! That idea of reveal is very much part of queer culture, and drag. It’s a way of saying this is who I am.

Er, yes. Perhaps.

The Last Night of the Proms is a celebration of music. Attempts to promote social and political causes have previously been frowned upon.


  • R. Brite says:

    Surely you’re joking. The Last Night is a jingoistic tribute to nationalism. A reasonably fun one, but still…

    • Allen says:

      No, it’s a harmless, end-of-season party along traditional lines, which allows people to attempt to signal their superior virtue by sneering at it.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        It’s the most-watched classical concert in the UK. It has more resonance than you’d imagine.

        • Allen says:

          Believe it or not, people can actually recognize a bit a fun when they see it.

          So far as “resonance” is concerned, worry about drill music instead.

    • Paul Brownsey says:

      It used to be largely ironic. Now it is becoming less so, to judge by comments on YouTube. Rather too many people seem to think that, yeah, we really ought to get out there and rule the waves again.

      • 32VA says:

        When Britain first, at Heav’n’s command
        Prorogued, prorogued, pro-rogued the Parliament!
        There was no charter! No charter in the Land!
        So Old Etonians queued up in plundering bands!
        Rule, Dom Cummings! Boris, and Gove, and Mogg!
        Democracy’s no longer worth a dead, dead dog!

      • Allen says:

        You judge by comments on YouTube? You even read them?

    • HugoPreuss says:

      I have seen singers wear the weirdest costumes on the Last Night, mostly based on some loudly screaming version of the national flag of the UK.

      If that is acceptable, so should be the costume described here.

  • Robin Smith says:

    The shocker for me is how soon The Last Night of the Proms comes round every year.

  • 16VA says:

    [[ Until now the Last Night Of The Proms has been a celebration of music ]]

    Pull the other one – it’s got bells on!

  • Marc says:

    While I may deplore (‘frown upon’, perhaps) the current bit of attempted politicizing of the Last Night (by the LGBxyz folks), surely it is rather laughable to write that ‘until now it’s been about music’: but I may understand why NL takes this route since it is certainly more principled (not to say, more efficient) to write about frowning upon any politicizing than to write about this specific attempt. The flags and Rule Britannia etc etc can be plausibly attributed to laudable patriotism.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Sadly I feel I have a previous engagement, or will have

  • Ribruce says:

    Bryn Terfel came out in a Wales Rugby shirt, and kicked a rugby ball into the promenaders. I thought the Proms was a celebration of music for everyone. How many last night speeches have had a political slant? It is much more than music. Did you write a column about the person who clapped/interrupted the silence in Das Lied von der Erde earlier in the Proms season?

  • John Borstlap says:

    Imagine that the Christian Church, ages ago, had issued a grave taboo on broccoli, how that would have created a psychopathological territory of suppression, secrecy, anxiety, underground activity, blackmaling, self-denial, failed dinner parties, upbringing problems, educational streamlining, etc. etc. and a wealth of sociological constructs and identity problems and outings in our own time.

  • Emil says:

    Yeah, no politics at an event where the crowning moments are Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and God Save the Queen, where Bryn Terfel literally wore the Welsh flag, where Sarah Connolly showed up as a Royal Navy admiral, where Joseph Calleja wore the Maltese cross, and where Renée Fleming waved an American flag (while singing Rule Britannia!). No politics at all.

    And if you want to ignore the politics, you’re free to imagine that all she’ll be wearing is a gorgeous lavender, pink, and blue dress.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      The Proms ‘politics’ are a celebration of Britain; the LGBTYKU etc. ‘politics’ are ‘all about me’.

      • Emil says:

        Yes, because there are no LGBTQ people in Britain. And I might point out that a celebration of Britain headlined by a Finnish conductor and an American mezzo, well…

  • Charles says:

    You have a problem with Ms Barton wearing a frock that is coloured pink, lavender and blue?

  • Semuso says:

    Being queer in the world as it stands is, in itself, a political statement.

    “… it’s a way of saying this is who I am…”

    Stop with the frowning. It gives you wrinkles.

  • V.Lind says:

    I didn’t know bisexual pride had colours. Does that mean if I wear them — I have items in each, none I can think of that mixes them — I send out a false signal? Just askin’.

    I love Last Night. Have a few recordings of it — nothing cheerier on a dreich night on November or February. I a not interested in who this person is. If she can sing well, I’m fine with that. I devoutly hope she does not utter spoken words, as her private life is of no interest to me and should as far as I am concerned stay private.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Of course those of a queasy disposition could just not watch, or listen. I have given the whole tawdry display a wide berth for decades and feel as if I have missed nothing.

  • John Rook says:

    Bravo! The Last Night of the Proms moves a step closer to the Eurovision Song Contest.

  • Ms.Melody says:

    Why does the public need to know the singer’s sexual orientation? Does it contribute to our appreciation of her music making?
    Does it help her sing better? As long as the artist is up to doing justice to a piece of music, information about their bedroom preferences should stay there. Whatever happened to keeping private things private?

    • Yes Addison says:

      Nevertheless, she’s made her orientation public, just as other singers have revealed that they’re getting married or divorced from people of the opposite sex, they’re having children, they love rugby, they have dogs, they support some politician, they like to garden, or whatever matters have nothing to do with their music-making but that they still talked about.

      You’re perfectly within your rights to avoid her performances and recordings from now on, if that’s what you would consider to be an appropriate response.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Privacy, like intimacy, has lost much of its attraction since it can be shared over the media.

  • Patrick says:

    Get over it, Barton. It’s not about you. It’s about the music. Screw with whomever you desire. Just don’t screw with the Proms.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      As one of our sage, witty TV presenters said recently, “I don’t care if you’re in love with an allen key, we just aren’t interested in it”.

      I love my dog. This is WHO I AM!!!

  • John G. Deacon says:

    See agreement here and yes, we too are sick to death of this never-ending boring LGBT triumphalism so think we will give it a miss this year.

  • Stweart says:

    Having looked at the programme for the LN and almost decided NOT to watch, and after reading this,I know I’m not going to. I have several of this year’s GOOD Proms recorded,so no problem.

  • Mike Schachter says:

    I find it very difficult to understand why someone’s sexuality is a matter of pride, any more than it is of shame. Who cares? Just attention seeking

  • miko says:

    I hope the sight of thousands of EU flags doesn’t twist your knickers into an undoable knot Norman. Can’t wait.