The opening gala at the Metropolitan Opera is widely regarded as a playground for the rich and famous. This year, the powerful guests in attendance will be treated to Eugene Onegin, an opera composed by none other than the late and openly gay Tchaikovsky. The performance will be conducted by Russia’s Valery Gergiev.
The selection has understandably raised a few eyebrows in our current boycott-everything-Russian state, so a petition has been launched asking the Met’s Board of Directors to simply dedicate the lavish performance “to support of LGTB people.”
What may have been a simple request has snowballed into controversy as The Met made a total dick move by ignoring the petition altogether.
What’s more, the only member of the Board of Directors opposing the petition is an openly gay man! What gives?
Last week, local hero and prolific adult director Michael Lucas posted an impassioned plea to his Facebook wall. As an openly gay Russian expat, Lucas appealed to Greg Sutphin, boyfriend of Dan Cochran (above), former Amherst College cheerleader and current member of The Met’s Board of Directors.
It read in part:
I grew up in communist Russia, and I felt the pain of officially sanctioned homophobia. Let me tell you, it made my teenage years hell. I am deeply troubled, therefore, at the recent official reinstitution of homophobia there, via laws that tacitly condone violence against gay people (which inevitably means violence against young gay people, who lack the protection of social position or official connections).
Did you see the photo in the Times of three crying, bloodied boys in the hands of paramilitary police? Nobody should have to live through that.
Lucas says “Russians will not challenge these laws,” and The Met essentially has a duty to stand in solidarity with Russian LGBTs by dedicating the opening gala performance. After all, almost everything involved in the night’s performance will be screaming “Russia!”
He makes clear his wishes:
This petition is not asking that the performances be canceled. What it does ask is that the Met, one of the bastions of gay New York, make a symbolic gesture: a gesture that shows that our opera house is on the side of decency, and atones for the fact that our opera house is employing artists tainted by homophobia.
And finally, a personal plea:
Your boyfriend, Dan Cochran, is on the Met’s board of directors, and as such is in a position to make a real difference if he chooses. I know that he considers himself a pillar of the gay community; now would be a good time for him to demonstrate the strength of his support by endorsing the peaceful, powerful statement that this petition proposes.
I hope that you and Dan will consider this issue carefully and maybe remind the Met’s management that it has a broader role in society than just putting on nicely decorated evenings of pretty singing.
Sutphin’s response, IN FULL:
I don’t agree that you are fighting Russian homophobia by requiring the MET to take part in the LGBT event. You can count me out.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
Oh, maybe that’s it? Your Jurassic Blackberry doesn’t translate “compassion”?