Queer Nation Disrupts Met Opera Gala, Delays Start of Performance
Demand the Met, Pro-Putin Artists Denounce Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws
New York, NY (September 23, 2013) — Four Queer Nation NY members disrupted the Metropolitan Opera’s Opening Night Gala, demanding that pro-Putin Russian performers at the Gala—and the Met itself—end their silence on the Kremlin’s attacks on LGBT Russians.
The Queer Nation NY members unfurled a rainbow flag chanted “Putin, Stop, End Your War on Russian Gays!” and “Anna, Your Silence is Killing Russian Gays! Valery, Your Silence is Killing Russian Gays!” just before the opera began, delaying the start of the performance.
Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and soprano Anna Netrebko, who appeared in the Gala production of Eugene Onegin, which was written by the gay composer Peter Tchaikovsky, are longtime and vocal supporters of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president.
The disruption was met by a flurry of boos and a hearty round of applause. The protestors were led peacefully out of the opera house. There were no arrests.
Earlier in the evening, Queer Nation NY protested outside of the opera house. Carrying rainbow flags and placards, the group attracted attention from the arriving audience as well as the media there to cover the Gala.
In June, the Russian government enacted a law that effectively bans any pro-LGBT statement or demonstration in public or private and on the Internet. Russian authorities have already arrested and fined citizens and foreign visitors under this law. The Russian parliament is now considering a law that would remove children from any household that is headed by a gay and lesbian parent. There has been a sharp rise in anti-LGBT violence in Russia that the government has refused to address. Many have begun fleeing the country.
In a petition that was signed by roughly 10,000 people, the Met was asked to dedicate the Gala performance to LGBT people, but it refused. The Met issued a general statement in support of LGBT people but its general manager, Peter Gelb, adamantly refused to condemn the Russian government’s attacks on LGBT Russians.
“We want more than platitudes from Gelb,” said Queer Nation member Andrew Miller. “Russian gay men and lesbians need unambiguous, unequivocal denunciations of Vladimir Putin’s anti-LGBT laws, and they need high-profile Russian artists like Netrebko and Gergiev to use their influence to overturn those laws.”
Queer Nation is a direct action group dedicated to ending discrimination, violence and repression against the LGBT community.