The Musicians’ Voice

Volume CVII, No. 7/8July, 2007

The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters published here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. Letters must be 300 words or less. Send them to Allegro, c/o Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036, or e-mail Mikael Elsila, the editor, at


To the Editor:

I am responding to the offensive comment from Richard Walsh in the June issue of Allegro.

[Walsh’s comment appeared on page 11 in the “Beat on the Street” question of the month feature. The question was: “Have you seen more acceptance for musicians who are openly gay, over the course of your career?” To view Walsh’s comment, click here.]

As a gay musician, I have often been the recipient of discrimination over the years. It is a much better world for gay men and lesbians than it was in the late 1970’s, but now feelings of hostility are simply held and discussed behind one’s back.

Like most right wing people, Mr. Walsh turns the truth around to suit his bigotry. How amusing to think gay people discriminate against heterosexuals! How is this even possible considering that we make up at most 10 percent of the population?

What he cannot possibly even imagine is the hell so many of us experienced as children and especially as teenagers. But it doesn’t stop there.

Gay musicians are often treated unfairly in the workplace. Just read about the recent legal battle in the Buffalo Philharmonic!

The tired old cliché about powerful gay men controlling the arts industry is not only untrue, it can’t possibly affect the orchestral world, since we routinely make up less than 5 percent of players in any given orchestra.

If Mr. Walsh had any knowledge of history, he would know that up until the post-Stonewall 1970’s, gays and lesbians were merely second class citizens, hounded out of jobs, arrested for even congregating in public.

Many lives were ruined in the period between the early 1930’s and the mid-70’s.

And Mr. Walsh: how repulsive to use the word “thingy”! Is that even a real word? At least obtain a thesaurus!

Sam Magill

Click for larger image.
Our May cover photo: is it fair to call these activists “drummers”?


To the Editor:

Regarding the front page photo and caption of the May issue of Allegro: what an insult!

“I know four chords; I must be a concert pianist!”

At best, the word “drummers” in the caption shouldn’t have been on the front page of a musicians’ newspaper — at worst, it should have been in quotation marks.

It’s these little insulting things that get union members really annoyed.

Is this a musicians’ paper or not?

Mickey Burke