The opera star was subjected to homophobic abuse at a major basketball match in Melbourne.
Being invited to perform the national anthem at a major sporting event is a proud moment for a singer. However pride turned to disappointment for Australian opera singer Kanen Breen, who was subjected to homophobic abuse after performing the Australian national anthem at a major Basketball match on Saturday evening.
Breen, who recently wowed audiences as the Beadle in Victorian Opera’s Sweeney Todd, delivered a faultless performance of Advance Australia Fair at the FIBA Oceania Championships on Saturday evening at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, where Australia’s Boomers faced off against New Zealand in the first of two matches in the final. Singing to a capacity crowd of 15,000 spectators as well as a live nationwide television audience on Channel 9, Breen wore a rainbow coloured tie for the event to show solidarity for the campaign for marriage equality in the wake of the Government’s decision last week not to allow Members of Parliament a conscience vote on the matter.
As the applause died down following his performance, an unidentified male spectator shouted “faggot” at Breen. The homophobic slur was audible on the television broadcast, with Breen describing the offensive jibe as “clear as a gunshot.”
Taking to social media, Breen’s close friend, Strange Bedfellows cabaret partner, and fellow opera singer Jacqueline Dark voiced her outrage at the horrible occurrence. “I am beyond stunned by this. Beyond hurt and beyond angry,” Dark writes. “Heckler, you are an embarrassment. Everyone else in the crowd who didn’t comprehensively shout this bigot down, you are also an embarrassment. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. You did nothing. Through your inaction, you silently condoned this man’s behaviour. He has learned nothing and assumes that everyone agrees with him. Next time, be a better person. Next time, say something. Next time, tell this man to sit down and keep his pathetic homophobia to himself.” Dark’s lengthy post on her official Facebook page continues, “People ask why we need marriage equality in this country and say there are bigger issues to deal with. This. This is why we need equality. Because neanderthal bullies like this still exist, some of them wearing business suits and responsible for running countries. Because some people are made to feel like second-class citizens and lesser people every day. Because in a thousand tiny ways, our society tells those people that they are worth less and that they should be ashamed of who they are. Because good people often do nothing when bigots attack somebody for their gender or their sexuality or their size, or just for looking a certain way. Because to a great many people, this is not a small issue.”
In just 15 hours the post has been shared over 260 times and liked by almost 750 people. Basketball Australia, who invited Breen to perform at the match said in a statement, “Basketball Australia is extremely disappointed by reports of a homophobic slur from a member of the crowd during the 2015 FIBA Oceania Championships at Rod Laver Arena. 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.”