They profane it who reveal it

First of all – if you want insightful, splendidly written comments and reviews and a unique view on music and other things, go and visit „Definitely the Opera.“

You might find an occasional appreciation of von O.’s collarbone as well.

Recently we talked about google search terms leading to our blogs. At  some point I was wondering why people even bother to google „Jaroussky boyfriend’s name“.

It’s a huge subject, and hard to break it down. But nevertheless I will try.

One charming night
Gives more delight
Than a hundred lucky days:

Night and I improve the taste,
Make the pleasure longer last
A thousand, thousand several ways.

– Secresy, The Fairy Queen (Henry Purcell)

Isn’t there a grain of truth in it? Love has a great deal to do with mystery, and secrecy. Night is the preferred time associated with love; lovers meet in darkness. In literature this can be found from  Amor and Psyche — where Psyche’s disire to reveal her lovers’ identity even causes the relationship to be put on a harsh hiatus — to Romeo and Juliet. I like the story of Amor and Psyche — a lot. They met, often, in a cave, and didn’t do much really except from making love. (Just by the way, I still wonder how the minor fact that Amor has wings could have lapsed her, even in the dark.) They knew close to nothing about each other — nothing at least that had any relation to the outside world of their secret cave. Still, the moment they are separated, she solves tasks from  employing ants to sort out grains in fluffy Cinderelly style, to going to the Underworld — pacifying Cerberus with self-made dog-treats — all for love. Love has little to do with knowledge.

According to scientific research, you fall in love within the first few seconds of meeting the other. What follows is just the attempt of logical parts of your brain to justify and rationalize. You don’t fall in love out of pity, when you finally hear a heartbreaking childhood experience, or a minute recount of past relationships from the other. But of course: additional information can breed more respect, and helps you to understand the other better. If you ever want to leave the cave, like Amor and Psyche do in the end, you are bound to talk to each other, and explain yourself. But that part can be filed under “annoying and sometimes entertaining real life” — it isn’t the  initial emotion of love.

Stars generally don’t live in caves, even if some rock-stars’ flats bear a certain resemblance. So at some point there is the need to explain yourself, and to make a statement, even more than for a normal person. So, apart from settling your relationship to another person, and explaining yourself to your family and friends, you have this other group — the public.

Now the question is: Is the public, the fans and followers, the haters, the youtube commentators,… are they entitled to make demands?

To some degree yes. A star has a public position, what he or she does has the chance to change what people think and do, and so has more influence than most politician’s statements.

What the gay community, and justly, demands first and foremost is…

Visibilty

In that respect, I see Mr. Jaroussky’s duty — if such a thing exists — completely fulfilled with the simple statement that he is gay.

I grew up in the eighties and nineties, where coming-out and outing was a huge subject. Quickly some guidelines were established by the moderate faction of justly angry queer people, defining certain conditions under which outing would be o.k.. In general and simplified, this was the case if the person in question was a homophobe in public or did anything in public that was in ridiculous contradiction to his private life. Mostly this affected politicians.

A similar outrage had only happened in 1971 when one of two large German weekly magazines had a headline which read, „We had an abortion,“ featuring women – famous, or not so famous – but their faces and names on the cover, including Romy Schneider – visible for all to see. But — they weren’t forced, as outed people were. They chose to go public to change something — the public’s opinion on abortion laws, and in general, women’s freedom of choice in more than only this matter.

Visibility is essential — not only as in queerdom, but also in other fields of life. Variety should be made visible. My longhaired, grumpy looking bearded bf sat in a streetcar (adorned with a washed-out “Resident Evil” t-shirt), and ended up chatting with an elderly lady about Bach’s cantatas. This surely made her reconsider a few prejudices she might have had.

I can fully understand the rage, disappointment and anger gay people are feeling when they look at faux straight people. But why is someone not naming their partner even a problem? Visibility is one aim, but it is not the only one. Most influence in politics is being done by persons and organizations who never, or very seldom, appear in the media. As sad as it is, it is almost impossible to get a majority with a view that is not conservative.

Visibility is one thing, but it isn’t all. People don’t necessarily accept what they see more often as normality. A good example is the muslim veil — it hardly breeds tolerance, even though it is a sure way to gain visibility.

There are two ways to change public opinion, basically. One is by a revolution — the aftermath of the 68’s as shown on the cover above was a revolutionary time. The other way are subtle changes, and they won’t come fast; nevertheless the change can have huge effects on everyone’s life, even if from an outsider’s view it is hardly visible.

I am not married, neither do I intend to marry, and only ten years ago my daughter would have encountered some problems because of it. Today, no one cares much. No huge revolutionary changes have brought this about, but the subtle everyday changes.

Politicians vs. Artists

A politician as well as an artist leads a public life, as well as a private life.

An artist is not a politician. Politicians are meant to be reliable. You like to know what religion they belong to, what their view is on many issues, and have a right maybe to know their marital status too. In Germany, a politician’s sex life doesn’t necessarily determine their success. It is rather unlikely that a man who has been divorced three times like our Ex-Chancellor Schröder could reach a similar position in the U.S., where you basically still elect a royal family.

What a politician should be: reliable, foreseeable in his actions, without too many  „Leichen im Keller,“ – corpses hidden in the cellar, which means secrets that could make them prone to blackmail or would shatter their reputation if revealed. You vote for a politician; you like to see what you’re voting for — the more precise, the better. I want to know if a politician has heart problems or takes drugs. You, the voter, have a right to know. The foreign intelligence will know anyway.

A politician is almost bound to spread “private” pictures as part of their PR, to satisfy a public demand, and also as a deal. By selling a “homestory” to an important newspaper, exclusively, you avoid uncomfortable questions asked or paparazzi pictures being published.

(The pony is called Ariadne. Oh, and the Lady was the minister of family and social issues, just in case it gets neglected.)

Now to the arts. If I write instead: An artist should be reliable, foreseeable in his actions, …Ridiculous, isn’t it? There are some that are, but artists are loved or hated, but never elected unless by CD sales numbers. You don’t — or shouldn’t — demand the same from an artist than you justly do from a politician. You don’t expect a politician to be a master of arts either.

Whether in a politician the private life in parts has to be people’s concern, an artist shouldn’t be molested, according to my opinion.

Art is about – mystery, secrets, dreams, all that is not revealed unless an artist expresses himself. An artist may be ambiguous, and an artist is essentially one thing they are loved or hated for: He/she is unique.

As far as I know, neither Mick Jagger nor David Bowie ever confirmed they had sex. What for? They had joy in spreading rumours, I guess. Or maybe not.

It took Steve Tyler (the indestructible frontman of Aerosmith) about 16 years to admit he had a wonderful daughter, Liv Tyler. He might have done her a favour for not exposing her to publicity before. As an artist, it’s absolutely fine to act this way. As a politician it would be right out of the question.

So now.

Sex

People have a very crude concept of sex. Sex isn’t just „insert thingy A into thingy B“ as Terry Pratchett so lovingly put it. Yet sex is a political issue. This comprises of a few branches:

Criminal law and jurisdiction

As most criminal law derives from the military – the Leviticus, as well as the Articles of War of 1749 – it mostly solely focusses on men.

Society

…which is intertwined with the first, as the public opinion influences jurisdiction and vice versa. You can only change a law if either a benevolent king got a fit of „enough with that bs, what am I king for?“ like Frederic the Great, or by inducing a change in the public opinion which will cause laws to be changed with some inertia.

It is a huge step from being prosecuted for one’s lifestyle to being allowed to marry in not even a hundred years. But not only did society’s attitude towards gay relationships change. Just a brief illustration about what was considered „normal“ up until the early nineteenth century.

The Branks

The Branks, also sometimes called Dame’s Bridle, or Scold’s Bridle comprised of a metal facial mask and spiked mouth depressor that was implemented on housewives up until the early 19th century. Many clergymen sustained in this husband’s right to handle his wife, and to use “salutary restraints in every case of misbehavior” without the intervention of what some court records of 1824 referred to as “vexatious prosecutions.”

via bibliotecapleyades.net

I guess you are feeling sick now – so am I.  Society is a cruel monster. Not everyone likes to fight against it, charging into the fray.

But let’s get back to the original subject, which is…

Love

…and passion, in which jurisdiction and society’s opinion matter little. Love defies reason whether society wants reasonable behaviour. Passion is the opposite of calm rationality the laws are based upon.

Someone does not only have sex with someone, or at some point discovers “Hey, I like more if I smooch a member of the same sex/the opposite sex.”

You fall in love, you quarrel, you have the greatest and the most dire times, all because of love or the lack of it.
Whether one’s sexual orientation is of course personal, but can be dis-attached from actual sexual behaviour even, love is a deeply emotional thing.

I am come to lock all fast,
Love without me cannot last;
Love like counsels of the wise,
Must be hid from vulgar eyes.
‘Tis holy, and we must conceal it;
They profane it who reveal it.

– Mystery, The Fairy Queen (Henry Purcell)

In fact,  I demand one single ability from my partner: To keep his trap shut about quite a few things.  I guess everyone does. If you’re famous, this of course conflicts with the insatiable thirst of the public to know things that are not their business.

Carried away by the wave of attention it is getting them, and maybe also fulfilling a secret exhibitionistic thread, some artists utter more than we (or at least I) ever wanted to know.

I didn’t begin enjoying sex until I started masturbating. Before that, I really wasn’t sexual. I bought my first vibrator three years ago. It’s a shame I didn’t discover it sooner. Now I give Rabbit vibrators to all my girlfriends. They scream when they unwrap it. The best gift I can give them is an orgasm.”

– unmemorable quote by Eva Longoria.

Imagine a respectable actor, like Jason Isaacs giving an interview, stating, „You know, I like most… you know ‘the stranger’?“

 

It’s funny that in German not even a word like “sex-life” natively exists.  It’s very English and American to limit a person to that. The German term would be “love-life,” “Liebesleben.” But love is so much more than just sex.

Opera and sex

Let’s take „La Divina” as an example.

Whenever I listen to that, it breaks my heart.

Do I exactly want to know what her „pene del cor“ are?

If she would have twittered or blogged instead, „You know, I’m still married, but I love this guy, you know, he’ll most probably never love me, but… darn.“ Would it touch us as much as this aria does?

Or, if she had held interviews, explaining her sexual habits in unbearable detail like Eva Longoria?

We don’t know what troubles La Divina when she sings „D’amor sull’ali rosee“, but she seems to understand Leonore better than we do; she is Leonore, she isn’t acting.

To return to the original subject: If I knew by a random coincidence that PJ was gay and would spot him hugging a hired girlfriend for the camera – I wouldn’t like it. But more so for the problems he would create for himself than for the damage it would do to the gay community. In my experience, it does you good if you keep the occasions in your life where you have to fake and lie to a minimum.

But that’s not the problem, isn’t it? He does, he’s quite frank about it; according to his own statement what he dislikes most is hypocrisy.

My personal opinion: Hordes of people falling in love with Jaroussky’s voice, convincing others, and accepting his being gay in passing because they can attach a person to the —  for them — vague concept of the term “gay” will probably do more to change opinions than if he would create a twitter account posting drunk pictures of him smooching his boyfriend. *His boyfriend. *The luckiest guy on earth. Bugger. *letting the mental picture sink in… *sobbing because born ten years too early, and with the wrong gender, and…*helplessly crying in a corner.*

I’m joking of course. (This must be stated, as according to some research I’ve read 90% of readers are unable to spot irony.)

Jaroussky is socially engaged, with the Association Iris, and has been for a long time.

Apparently for him there are other issues just as, or more important, than that of sexual orientation.

Oh, and just as an afternote: Yes, I disdain heterosexual singers flaunting their sexual orientation as well.

(Erwin Schrott flaunting his…. straight… whatever this is.)

Just one charming, and for once, great interview with Mr. Jaroussky to conclude this. The questions are a little bit like those from the Proust Questionnare.

Aren’t those answers much more interesting than „Jaroussky boyfriend’s name“?

Les goûts du Monsieur Jaroussky.

Votre boisson préférée ?
Philippe Jaroussky— Le vin.
> Qu’avez-vous réussi de mieux dans votre vie ?
Philippe Jaroussky— Vivre de ma passion.
> Si vous deviez changer une chose dans votre apparence physique, quelle serait-elle ?
Philippe Jaroussky— Être plus costaud !
> La faute qui vous inspire le plus d’indulgence ?
Philippe Jaroussky— La paresse.
> Votre plus grand regret ?
Philippe Jaroussky— Ne pas être devenu un bon violoniste !
> Votre plus grande peur ?
Philippe Jaroussky— Perdre un des sens.
> Que détestez-vous par-dessus tout ?
Philippe Jaroussky— L’hypocrisie.
> Votre devise ?
Philippe Jaroussky— Toujours remettre à demain ce qu’on peut faire aujourd’hui ! (Une fâcheuse tendance dont je n’arrive pas à me débarrasser…)
> État présent de votre esprit ?
Philippe Jaroussky— En ébullition !
Comment aimeriez-vous mourir ?
Philippe Jaroussky— Sans m’en rendre compte.
> Si vous êtes croyant, qu’aimeriez-vous que Dieu vous dise en arrivant au ciel ?
Philippe Jaroussky— Je ne crois pas, du moins pas en Dieu.

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17 thoughts on “They profane it who reveal it

  1. I am trying to find your argument in this sea of text, but failing — help me! You threw everything and everybody in, and their mothers! Here’s a writing exercise (that I try to do myself as well): distill your argument in three punchy, well-argued paragraphs, and leave Psyche and Amor out of it.

    You know I’m not arguing in favour of drunken party pictures shared on the internet. I’m talking about appearing in at least one public event with your significant other, and the occasional mention of the significant other when asked in a context of your choice about him/her. One public event or one acknowledgement can’t be too greedy of me now, can it. These things can save lives of young confused queers in whatever the European equivalent of Wawa, Ontario is.

    I maintain that too few people in the show business and performing arts (wherever there’s trading in fantasies involved, and branding) are out to the degree that their straight peers are. Those who are can be counted on fingers of one hand. Those few braves ones who are also usually happen to be married. (A permanently coupled lesbian with children, for example, is less threatening than the one who’s still out on the loose and, gasp!, dating) I will keep asking the question why there’s reticence around queer people’s love lives and why there is a persistent belief that it’s an entirely a “private” matter. Never in a million year does a straight artist hesitate about showing up with a date or mentioning a long-term relationship the way their queer brethren have to.

    Naming -> de-shaming -> acceptance -> celebration. The latter two will not happen without the former two, and I know you agree.

    (BTW, of course this is not primarily about PJ.)

  2. You’re right… Ill try. The question is what “naming” does include, and to what degree it includes visibility. And then, what is this visibilty exactly, and to what point does it include appearances with a partner?

    A person may have reason to keep his relationships and affairs private. Actually uprising stars are sometimes given the advice to do so, as naming one partner may make them appear less interesting to their fans.

    I don’t make any discrimination between queer and straight couples in that respect. Also, it’s not as if every person has a happy fulfilling relationship with just one other person, planned to last for life. The prevailing model of partnership that is accepted is what I’d call “serial monogamism.” But there are other models, and less clear arrangements.

    Considering what you said, …. “(A permanently coupled lesbian with children, for example, is less threatening than the one who’s still out on the loose and, gasp!, dating)”
    You could be right (even if someone who feels threatened by a lesbian on the loose would cause me to question their sanity. ) If queer couples copy the accepted model of monogamism and the traditional idea of partnership it meets more acceptance than less clear behaviour. Bisexuals don’t meet much love from either faction as a rule.

    There are many reasons that can cause you not to name your partner, whether you’re straight or not. There were times in my life when I didn’t — for years. The other might be in a different relationship, still married, all sorts of private matters that make it seem a wise choice to keep it to yourself and a very few close friends.

    I’d advise against it any day. It plainly sucks, in my experience. It hurt me at times to walk next to the significant other and having to pretend to be just friends, and it’s a task not to give your relationship away in certain circumstances.

    Ian McKellen, hero of the day… I’m not sure if he ever named his current partner, if he has one. He has named the ones before, but I’m not sure with which delay.
    Ian Mc Kellen, 2010 -- source: wikipedia
    The crew is approving.
    Karl Urban -- Ian McKellen
    Ian McKellen/Karl Urban
    (Gandalf/Éomer)

  3. Ian McK very famously came out very late in life, and in a very public way. I wish I can remember all the details, but there was a big gathering of some sort and somebody was railing against “those homosexuals” and Ian McK got up and yelled, “Well, I’m one of them”. (As told to me by my the guide of the Kairos Queer London tour back in 2007-ish… I should look up the details)

    Yes, I’m all in favour of non-traditional arrangements of one’s love life, wherever you stand on the Kinsey scale of sexuality. (including asexuality!) The magnificent Tilda Swinton comes to mind, and her two men. Somewhere in the memoir Molto Agitato that I recently wrote about on the blog the autor mentions Hildegard Behrens’ non-traditional love life, but she doesn’t elaborate. She just says “There was a rumour she had two children from two different men”, but I am assuming what’s lacking here is the admission that she was in a simultaneous relationship of some sort with those two men (otherwise, nothing scandalous about having two partners in a row).

    Does anybody know of any other cases of artists who dared “come out” this way, whether queer or straight? Of course, Hildegard B probably kept her love life under tight wraps (I don’t know), and the author of Molto Agitato revealed this after the singer retired or passed.

  4. You’re perfectly right. Some singers had very complicated arrangements, I read a story once,… I think it was about Risë Stevens, but I’m not sure, I’ll check first.
    I don’t know what appearance McKellen made before he came out, what was officially in1988. But it’s one thing not to publically announce one’s sexual orientation. The other is how you act. If before you create false rumours and fake heterosexuality and act as a homophobe it’s one thing — If you just didn’t explicitely tell, it’s another.

    Goethe had a complicated love-life — not neccessarily in the sense of double-dipping but in having deep affections for more than one person at a time.
    Back to the baroque era it gets harder and harder to tell. Wives weren’t neccessarily the best friend/confidante/preferred sexual partner back then. Also there was not even a word describing gay in the sense of affection.
    People had same-sex crushes all the time. Society was designed that it was a good deal easier to spend time with a person of your same sex than with the opposite one. You talk more, understand each other better, and as a rule, a closer relationship evolves than with a member of the opposite sex you never meet without a chaperone.

    How people perceive themselves is another difficult matter. Society wants to you take sides. Are you gay or straight? Which one’s the wife, which one the secretary? I’ve just been watching some parts of the BBC series “Entourage” and almost died laughing when Jason Isaacs’ character uttered the line, “Hey, I’m just a straight man that likes s***ing c*ck.” My laugher was at least 50% due to the fact that I have a … straight… friend who said this line to me not long ago, word for word.

    A study I always love to link to is “Misclassification Bias in Sex Research”
    Very interesting
    http://www.publish.csiro.au/view/journals/dsp_journal_fulltext.cfm?nid=164&f=SH09068

    Excerpt: “RESULTS:

    There was no universal consensus on which behaviours constituted having ‘had sex’. More than 90% responded ‘yes’ to PVI but one in five responded ‘no’ to PAI, three in 10 responded ‘no’ to OG and about half endorsed MG. Fewer endorsed PVI with no male ejaculation (89.1%) compared with PVI without a qualifier (94.8%, P < 0.001). MG was endorsed more often when received (48.1%) than given (44.9%, P < 0.001). Among men, the oldest and youngest age groups were significantly less likely to believe certain behaviours constituted having 'had sex'."

    (The abbreviations are kind of self-explanatory, if not they are right above this excerpt in the link I posted.) What the holy….???? Three in ten say "no, it's no sex" if they give or get a bj? I'm sure they have different standards they apply to their wive's behaviour. One out of 5 says anal is no sex, have i got this right? Hilarity.
    The world is full of straight men that like to … etc. Not even that seems to be simple.

  5. hehe… not exactly… it is COMPLICATED. Let’s agree that lying to yourself doesn’t exactly make life easier. Lying to others is very complicated at times, depending on how much you interact with them.
    Even if we leave romantic love out for just a moment — it is even hard to explain to another what you feel for your best friend, e.g. Others will never see people with your eyes.
    You fall in love, and don’t we all know and dread the feeling when you first introduce the significant other to your friends and family. No matter what your expectations, the best you can hope to get as a reaction is something like…

  6. Oh ty, in Germany the campaign was in parts initialized by Alice Schwarzer who was living in Paris at the time. Yes, she was friends with Simone De Beauvoir, so it may well be that De Beauvoir started it.

  7. Oh that sounds nice. During the last years, Schwarzer has done a few things not quite as brilliant, to put it nicely, but her merits are beyond any doubt. If it hadn’t been for her and others like Beauvoir, our world would look different.
    I’ve seen her in a restaurant once, and didn’t dare to ask her for an autograph. The only paper I had at hand was a napkin or Schumann’s “Frauenliebe und -leben” sheet music. I didn’t want to have it beaten around my head 😀
    “Er, der herrlichste von allen, wie so edel, wie so gut!” *facepalm* hehe
    (“He, the most gorgeous of them all, how noble, how good at heart”)

  8. Nah, it’s Lieder. Chamisso lyrics if I’m not totally mistaken, … quite nice. Sung it, as almost everyone does once in a while. yrsgs… I never liked them much, the text is a real squick 😀

  9. Giggles. I know the work (awfully traditionalist text, put me off colossally) but was wondering if you played it to somebody else’s singing. I totally forgot the possibility that you might have been the singer!

    By the way, remember the blurry picture you fixed for me? I just got the best compliment ever for the one I took for Twitter.

    “Your new pic is really good. Can’t decide if it more formidable feminist or sultry film star — definitely some of each.”

    So thank you.

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