pipes|drums 2021 Pride Month Panel – Part 1
pipes|drums continues our celebration of Pride Month with an illuminating panel of three pipers and one drummer who identify as LGBTQ+ as we work to open dialogue to gain understanding.
Our June 1st editorial calling for associations and bands to proactively reach out to unlikely communities to encourage participation in piping and drumming started a lively and, for the most part, constructive discussion on various social media platforms.
Some appeared to take exception to even discussing such a thing or – mistakenly –assuming that we were inferring that not everyone is welcome in piping and drumming. But, on the contrary, we know that, with rare exceptions, everyone is generally welcome regardless of sexual orientation, race or religious or political beliefs, provided, of course, that they reciprocate.
But we tend to wait for them to come to us. So the proactive action taken by the new City of Angels Pipe Band of Los Angeles, letting those in the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities know that piping and drumming is for them, too, is a novel approach.
We asked Trevor Takahashi, pipe-major of and visionary for City of Angels if he might be willing to put together a panel discussion with other pipers and drummers who identify as LGBTQ+. To our delight, he was more than willing, and he set to recruiting panellists. But, unfortunately, perhaps an indication that piping and drumming still has a way to go, a few invitees declined to take part.
Our discussions with LGBTQ+ pipers and drummers in the past encountered several players who didn’t want the bother of being public with their experiences. Some were worried about repercussions for their band, and others even expressed concern about their physical safety at competitions. An environment of “don’t ask, don’t tell” seems to permeate piping and drumming, and there’s an argument that that approach is best, whether it’s sexual orientation, religion, politics or whatever. Some feel that piping and drumming is the only attribute we need to display.
But is that a truly open and fair environment? We don’t know. That’s why we sought the insights of those whose experiences might be very different from our own.
Only by asking questions, by bringing topics into the open, by hearing the perspectives of others can we know.
We hope you agree, if not now, then perhaps eventually.
Leilani Lucas is from the Sylmar neighbourhood of northern Los Angeles. They started their career in the pipe band world as drum-sergeant of the Granada Hills Charter High School Pipe Band in 2008 and continued in the role until 2012. Lucas then joined the Grade 3 Pasadena Scottish, where they worked with Lead-Drummer Glenn Kvidahl, a Grade 1 veteran. With Pasadena, Lucas elevated their skills with the nearly-undefeated corps on the Southern California competition circuit. As a solo drummer, Lucas rose from Grade 5 to Grade 2 standard in only a few years, and in 2017 was named lead-drummer of Pasadena’s new Grade 5 band, also competing with the Grade 3 group. In 2018, the band travelled to the World Championships, where the band won Grade 3B. Lucas is now lead-drummer with the recently formed City of Angels Pipe Band of Los Angeles. This group is proactively reaching out to LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities to get involved in piping and drumming.
Rebecca Mair lives in Vancouver and is a piper with the Grade 2 Robert Malcolm Memorial, the top feeder band in the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band organization. She identifies as Lesbian and took up the pipes some 20 years ago, introduced to Scottish culture by her Scottish parents, who immigrated to Canada when Mair was a year old. An accomplished piper, she teaches piping part-time and recognizes that the instrument is a massive part of her life.
A professional-grade solo piper from Cleveland, Ohio, Laureano Thomas-Sanchez came out as non-binary this year. They started piping in 2010 with the 87th Cleveland Pipe Band, receiving top-quality instruction, setting them up to move to the Grade 2 Great Lakes Pipe Band of Cleveland in only two years. Thomas-Sanchez stayed with Great Lakes for eight years, from 2012-2019, and played with the Alma College Pipe Band. A keen student of piobaireachd, they were upgraded to the Open/Professional solo grade by the Midwest Pipe Band Association in 2018, and this year Thomas-Sanchez is an instructor with the Ohio Scottish Arts School.
Trevor Takahashi is the pipe-major of the previously mentioned City of Angels. He identifies as gay and was previously the pipe-major of the Grade 3 Pasadena Scots. His vision for City of Angels is focused on actively welcoming those who identify LGBTQ+ and BIPOC to take up piping or drumming, providing an open and safe environment for all. pipes|drums interview Takahashi earlier this month, seeking his insights into the thinking behind the new band.
In this part, you will hear about how piping and drumming has given them a confidence they might never have achieved. Each of them recognize that, without their involvement, they would have had an even more difficult time coming out, and possibly not at all. We found some of their stories hard to hear, but we are better for listening to them.
These are four courageous leaders. We thank them for stepping up and contributing to a meaningful dialogue that has never occurred so widely in piping and drumming.
This is the first of three parts that will run over the rest of Pride Month. After watching, if your mind is opened even just a little more, we will be pleased.
Reaching out to LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities (video)
June 4, 2021
New City of Angels band formed in LA
May 23, 2021