Local bisexual singer Leon Marckus has withdrawn from the list of acts scheduled to perform at an upcoming concert at SIM Global Education Institute (SIM GE), after he was allegedly asked to omit any lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) content from his performance.
Leon told Yahoo! Lifestyle Singapore that an organiser of the concert had sent him a message saying that the SIM GE management could not accommodate his LGBT “causes”, just two weeks before the “A Night To Shine” concert, which is slated to take place this evening (24 Sep).
The concert, meant to be a student talent showcase which also features guest performers such as Leon, is organised by the SIM-RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) Student Council.
Leon said that the student council had suggested him to change his “attire, song content, and whatever is being delivered” for his performance, so that none of the elements in his performance will be “suggestive or provocative in any sense” or “promoting the LGBT community”.
Highlighting that he had earlier submitted details such as the set list for his upcoming performance, Leon said that the songs he had planned to perform are – contrary to claims purportedly made by SIM GE management – centred on “youth issues, growing up in a dysfunctional family, and feeling like an outcast”.
“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,” said Leon, adding that he mostly vocal about LGBT rights on his social media accounts instead.
He also highlighted that he did not face any qualms and has not received any negative feedback when performing in other institutions universities, and in other tertiary institutions such as junior colleges and polytechnics.
Leon thus did not “blame the students” for the management’s decision.
“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 said.
Leon chided the SIM GE management’s stance, saying that it’s “very cheap of them to water down my work because of my sexual orientation”.
“My art and my sexuality are two different things,” he said.
Not right for “a university or a place of education to be supportive of discrimination”: Leon Marckus
Leon argued that such a stance also sends a harmful message to SIM GE’s students, as it signals tacit support of discriminatory practices in “a place of education”.
“I just don’t think it’s right for, especially a university or a place of education, to be supportive of discrimination,” Leon added.
“This is not the first time an incident like this has happened. Just earlier this year, my friend, Joshua Simon, had to endure the same rubbish,” he added.
“As a university, what kind of example are you setting to your students? Are you telling your students that discrimination is okay? That if they are LGBTQ+, them being themselves is not okay?
“My story is just one of the few rubbish that we as LGBTQ+ individuals have to endure in our daily lives,” Leon lamented.
Local radio presenter and music artist Joshua Simon, who performed during the concert segment of Pink Dot 11 in June this year, told the crowd about seeing his name removed from the list of speakers for a TED Talk at a polytechnic due to elements in his script that referred to same-sex relationships.
Joshua released a statement via Instagram regarding the incident, stating that it “would be against my principles to flip the gender of my ex when mentioning my breakup and to totally leave out my coming out story to my father – both of which are, and will always be, defining moments of my story”.
“To hide my struggles and sacrifices is to be ashamed of them. To honour my story is to be completely vulnerable on that stage,” he added.
“I told the school I will not do the talk. I chose not to censor my script. Doing so would also set a hurtful precedence to the next gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer person offered a chance to speak.
“Our stories matter. The fight to have them told continues,” Joshua firmly said.
Staying “sensitive” to “different interests” of “stakeholders”, upholding “standard procedure” crucial to management’s decision: SIM
A SIM spokesperson told Yahoo! Lifestyle Singapore in response to queries that it is important for the institution to “remain sensitive to the different interests of our stakeholders”, having “very diverse stakeholder groups”.
SIM GE is a private education institute under the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) group, which works in partnership with overseas universities to offer degrees to students in Singapore, Yahoo! Lifestyle Singapore noted.
The spokesperson added that requesting 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,” said the spokesperson.
However, the SIM spokesperson noted that “No decision has been made to cancel Leon’s performance as details of his performance are pending”.
SIM did not comment on Leon’s allegations regarding the request to change aspects of his performance, and did not specify their requirements.
The SIM-RMIT Student Council has also yet to respond to Yahoo! Lifestyle Singapore for comments on the matter.