Last night members of the LGBT rights group Queer Nation disrupted the performance of the Mariinsky Orchestra, led by world-renowned conductor Valery Gergiev, demanding that Gergiev oppose the Russian government’s attacks on LGBT Russians and that Russia end its war on its LGBT citizens.
Earlier in the evening, Queer Nation protested in front of Carnegie Hall. Demonstrators, including several Russian gay men and women, carried a 60-foot rainbow flag that read “Support Russian Gays” and held placards. Protestors also handed out informational flyers to arriving audience members and passersby.
The New York Times reports:
The furor in the West over Russia’s new law placing restrictions on the discussion of homosexuality continues to dog the conductor Valery Gergiev, who is one of Russia’s most important cultural exports these days. Mr. Gergiev, a prominent supporter of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who signed the law, drew protests Thursday night at Carnegie Hall, just as he did last month at the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera. Shortly after Mr. Gergiev walked onto the stage at Carnegie Hall to begin leading the celebrated Mariinsky Orchestra in a program of three Stravinsky ballets, the concert was briefly delayed by several members of Queer Nation, a protest group that has been vocally pushing for gay rights in Russia. “Gergiev, your silence is killing Russian gays!” several protesters shouted, as Mr. Gergiev, in tails, kept his back to the audience. Some members of the audience booed the protesters; others applauded. One woman yelled, “This is an artistic event!”
The protesters were removed from Carnegie Hall. No arrests were made.
“Valery Gergiev should not be able to perform without being called out for his vocal support of Russia’s anti-gay president,” said John Weir, one of the protesters. “Gergiev’s silence about Putin’s anti-gay laws is killing lesbian and gay Russians. We’re here to break that silence.”
On October 4, Queer Nation wrote to Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s executive and artistic director, asking that Carnegie Hall condemn the Russian government’s attacks on LGBT Russians. He declined, adding that “musical events are not the appropriate setting for political statements.
“This is an artistic event!” Shut the fuck up, Muffie.
Queer Nation is a direct action group dedicated to ending discrimination, violence and repression against the LGBT community.