I’m not a teenager. Therefore, I’m not the kind of fan who will scour the internets for every piece of information about an entertainer’s life. But now I realise that if I had done so, I may have saved myself a lot of money and heartache.
In 2008 I discovered the band Scythian, four blokes with amazing talent, two of which played the violin. Two fiddles in one band? Amazing! The band was always friendly and courteous to their fans, and they always remembered the last time they saw you even if months had passed. I was impressed, and in love with their music.
I went to shows in PA, Maryland, and even DC and NYC. I made friends I would not have met otherwise. Their music inspired one of my works in progress. I bought all their albums and half a dozen t-shirts.
Then they took a year-long break and my attention turned to other things. But I remained a fan, willing to see where else they took their music.
Then the worst happened. Good As You broke the story that three of the members, Alexander Fedoryka, Danylo Fedoryka, and Ben-David Warner, were performing at a rally by known hate group National Organisation for Marriage. Which really does nothing for marriage, and all it can to keep same sex couples from marrying.
Two members, Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy, were not involved, so the rest adopted a different name, Ultramontane. If you search for it, you will find very little about this ‘band’ and a lot about Catholicism, as the term means total obedience to the Pope or some shit. So not only are they homophobes, they’re papists.
I knew they were Catholic. I was never completely oblivious. But I know plenty of sane Catholics. I know plenty of nutty Christians who are not hateful. The guys were always nice to everyone, I thought, so they must be okay.
When they had to address the issue on Facebook, all hell broke loose. Comments on both sides of the issue argued mainly about respecting differing opinions.
Let’s get this straight. This is not about differences of opinion. This is about hate speech. Homosexuality doesn’t drive kids to suicide, homophobia does. As an individual, you are entitled to being an asshole. But when you make your asshole visible in public, the rest of us have the same right to point it out.
And we have the right to tell you that your services are no longer required. The money we give entertainers is 100% voluntary. We can, and many of us will, choose to patronize other bands. This doesn’t make us hypocrites, as some on the right have claimed. We would be hypocrites if we claimed to be on the right side of history and allowed homophobia to prevail unchecked.
But the decision was not so easy. I am still struggling with the feelings that have come from this. As I read more angry comments on both sides, I was exposed to a side of the Fedoryka brothers I had not wanted to see. I was presented with a link to some sort of anti-choice thing they are also a part of, and from reading the words from the men themselves, they do sound like religious nutjobs.
I don’t expect either of them to listen to reason, and my stance on abortion has been and will remain this: IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A UTERUS, YOU DO NOT GET TO LEGISLATE ANYTHING HAVING TO DO WITH UTERI.
Perhaps if I had known these things from the beginning, I would not have become a fan.
That is a thought I am ambivalent about. Would I trade all the experiences, the fun times, the festivals, the new friends? Would I go back in time and give it all up before I got the chance to enjoy it? I know what I would’ve done at the time if I’d done a simple Google search. I would’ve avoided the whole thing and I wouldn’t be sad about it now.
So perhaps it is a good thing that I am not a teenager, that I didn’t go looking for all their little details, that I simply let myself enjoy the music and the shows. But it’s broken now. What is known can’t be unknown, what is seen can’t be unseen. Nothing really has changed. These guys are not my friends, so I don’t have to deal with them at all. Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy don’t have that luxury. Both the fiddler and drummer have come out in favour of marriage equality, for which I thank them from the bottom of my queer little heart. And I am aware of the fact that they can’t simply ignore this. This is their livelihood on the line, and they are friends with the other three, so they have to deal with it, and the backlash.
Both of them were kind enough to express their support on Facebook.
Do I hold Alex, Danny, and Ben-David any sort of ill will? Of course not! They are excellent musicians and they have always treated me with respect. Probably because they didn’t really know me, but I can only attest to the facts, not speculation. Have they at any time given any public indication of holding any ill will towards anyone? Not in my presence, and not that anybody else has indicated to me. So how do I reconcile what I know with what I’ve experienced?
That’s the thing about religion. You can hold beliefs that are completely independent of your reality, or even your actions. By performing at the NOM thing, they may really, honestly, truly think they are doing something in favour of heterosexual marriage, and something that will make their deity happy. It is easy to forget, when you’re making your deity happy, that you may be making humans unhappy in the process. Maybe they don’t know any queer people (though given the size of their family, I do the maths and worry…) so it is easy for them to ignore the impact of their actions.
Perhaps they will never rethink their position. But I feel that I can’t, in good conscience, reinforce their stance by calling myself a fan. I can’t reward that. I can’t ignore it. I wish Joey and Andrew the very best, and for their sake, I hope the band survives. But it’s not without a hint of sadness that I wish it. Because if the band prevails, it will mean they got away with it. It will mean that people in general would rather continue to support a band regardless of what they’ve done to help hold back the progress of all humanity. Or even worse, that they agree. In a way, all people who continue to support Scythian are now suspect. I hate that.
I gave my t-shirts to the dog, tore the posters from my wall (and gave myself a papercut, to add injury to insult), but I have not touched my music collection. I’ve decided to ignore it for now, not to listen to it for a long time. Perhaps in the future I will be able to listen to it without it bringing up all these feelings.
As of this writing, both the Facebook and Twitter profiles for Scythian have disappeared. Nothing else has come from the official source, and I’ve heard of gig cancellations but have nothing concrete on that.
Update 6/4/13: Andrew Toy posted this update to his Facebook page: