Local bisexual singer Leon Markcus has withdrawn from a scheduled concert at SIM Global Education (SIM GE) institute after he was allegedly asked to omit any lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) content from his repertoire.
23-year-old Leon had been booked to perform as a guest at a show organised by the SIM-RMIT Student Council scheduled for Tuesday (24 Sept).
Two weeks before the concert, Leon allegedly received a message from the student council stating that it was unable to accommodate his performance due to his “causes” and that it had come to this decision after “much consideration and internal conflicts with the higher management of the school.”
The student council asked Leon to alter his performance so that the “attire, song content, and whatever is being delivered shall not be suggestive or provocative in any sense, as well as not promoting the LGBT community.”
Instead of acceding to the school’s demands, Leon decided to withdraw from the show altogether. He told Yahoo Singapore: “I don’t blame the students. From what I’ve heard, the students really fought hard to keep me in the concert, but ultimately, it was up to the higher management.”
He added: “My art and my sexuality are two different things. And it’s very cheap of them to water down my work because of my sexual orientation. I just don’t think it’s right for, especially a university or a place of education, to be supportive of discrimination.”
This is not the first time a local university has cancelled appearances by LGBT performers and speakers due to sensitivity over homosexuality.
In July this year, gay local radio DJ Joshua Simon pulled out from a TEDx talk at Singapore Polytechnic after he was asked to omit LGBT content from his speech. A year ago, Saint Joseph’s Institution – a Catholic school – barred gay activist Rachel Yeo from giving a TEDx talk at their premises.
Although Leon speaks out about LGBT rights and issues on social media, he says that he music does not cover such topics. Pointing out that he has performed at other schools in the past with no issues, he told Yahoo that his band had simply planned to perform songs from his upcoming release:
“We were going to play the songs I have on my EP, which actually just talk about youth issues, growing up in a dysfunctional family, and feeling like an outcast. Nothing really LGBTQ or provocative, actually.”
A SIM spokesperson told the publication: “As an educational institute with very diverse stakeholder groups, it is important that we remain sensitive to the different interests of our stakeholders.
“Asking performers to provide details of their performance at SIM’s events is therefore a standard procedure SIM requires of all performers. The same request is made of all the other four performers at the student event on 24 September, and not just of Leon Markcus. No decision has been made to cancel Leon’s performance as details of his performance are pending.”
Leon told Yahoo that the concert organisers did not reply when he asked what they meant by the requirement to not promote the LGBT community and stopped their correspondence with him when he withdrew from the show.
The publication pointed out that SIM did not say what details they requested from performers and that the institution did not respond to Leon’s allegation that the school ask him to avoid LGBT content. -/TISG