From Stage to Street: BSR joins Boston Opera Alliance to Celebrate Pride

BOA at Pride

It’s been a few weeks since BSR joined other organizations in the Boston Opera Alliance to march in the Boston Pride for the People Parade. Participants were given rainbow-hued pins that read “Every Voice Matters.” Mine has been affixed to the strap of my crossbody purse since we marched. I see it when I’m grabbing said purse to rush out the door. I see it when I’m pulling out my wallet or grabbing my chapstick– so, roughly 46 times per day. 

I’ve started to think of that pin as an outward symbol of something that has been a tacit component (stereotype, even) of our lives in the singing world. The performing arts milieu is definitely queer-coded; one thinks of numbers like “Keep it Gay” in The Producers, or Big Boo’s quip that “everyone knows that my people are stage managers” in Season 3 of Orange is the New Black. The list goes on, and we get why it’s supposed to be funny– it’s an inside joke about our insular world backstage that has famously served as a safe space for oft-derided Theatre Kids™. 

When we face the outside world together as singers, though, we’re embodying different personae: we’ve got hair, makeup, costumes, and a fourth wall that all create physical and personal distance from the people in the audience. During the parade, we were an ensemble, but we weren’t singing. Our clothing was definitely campy, but we weren’t costumed. We were together, not as characters, and not in a queer-coded space: We were loud, exuberant, and we brought that inner esprit de corps to a place that was, indeed, celebrating our commitment to the idea that Every Voice Matters. 

The turnout was amazing: we had representation from BSR, BLO, NEMPAC, Boston Opera Collaborative, Opera On Tap, MassOpera, Boston Baroque, and West End Lyric. These organizations are all doing fabulous work in terms of LQBTQIA+ representation: NEMPAC’s queer interpretation of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and MassOpera’s ongoing partnership with Club Cafe (Pride Trivia Cabaret, anyone?!), both spring to mind, as well as broader industry efforts toward implementing gender-blind casting, programming works by LGBTQIA+ composers, and normalizing queerness in stagings. 

Beyond those institutional endeavors, though, the interpersonal connections among us reflected so much of our backstage backstory: Teachers and students, co-founders and colleagues, roommates and castmates…and, of course, partners who shared their love for each other with the masses. 

It’s a vulnerable thing, stepping into a different spotlight from our norm. Amidst the jubilation, though, we were engaging in a collective act of advocacy, for the LGBTQIA+ community and for the opera community writ large. This is how it begins, people– “Every Voice Matters” includes yours! I’m excited for us to keep finding ways to be supportive advocates in the field. Keep an eye out for future Amplify events, and, as ever, if you’ve got ideas, we’re all ears. 

BOA at Pride