Opera singer cops homophobic heckle, responds beautifully
A leading Australian opera singer was the target of homophobic abuse at an international basketball game on Saturday night. Kanen Breen, who is gay, performed the national anthem before the match between Australia and New Zealand at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
He wore a black suit with a glittery rainbow tie - what he dubbed ‘a flamboyant little protest’ about the government's position on same-sex marriage. Explaining further, he added, “I love my tie, and I wore it quite deliberately whilst singing about a nation that purports to be free and fair (but which clearly, for so many, is not).”
Seconds before his performance, a lone, angry male voice could be heard from the audience shouting a homophobic slur - 'f*ggot'. Breen ignored the heckle. Take a look:
Writing about the incident in a public Facebook post, he wrote, “Clearly one individual amongst the 15,000 basketball fans felt I was a little too fabulous - his problem, not mine. I learned a very long time ago not to value the opinions of people for whom I have no respect.”
His close friend, fellow performer and co-parent Jacqui Dark wrote a longer response on her Facebook page, which has since been shared nearly 300 times. “I am beyond stunned by this. Beyond hurt and beyond angry,” she wrote.
She went on to lament that the crowd didn’t call out the individual for what he said: “Next time, say something. Next time, tell this man to sit down and keep his pathetic homophobia to himself.” Dark, like many others across the country, has also changed her profile picture to a close-up of Breen’s tie to show solidarity and support for the singer.
Basketball Australia released a statement regarding the issue, saying it was "extremely disappointed" by the incident. “Basketball Australia takes the issue of homophobia seriously and as a wholly inclusive sport that stands firm as 'everyone's game', does not tolerate comments of this nature.”
Words by LOUIS SHANKAR