pipes|drums 2021 Pride Month Panel – Part 3
As June comes to a close, we conclude our pioneering Pride Month Panel discussion with Part 3.
On June 21, 2021, Carl Nassib of the Oakland Raiders, became the first active National Football League players to come out as gay, reminding us just how far professional sports teams have come, yet still how far they need to go.
As competitive pipe bands and piping and drumming is fraught with delicacy over what should really be basic conversations, we can see similarities.
Why should a professional athlete or a member of a pipe band feel the need to come out publicly? many might wonder. The answer to that is perhaps rhetorical.
Why is there any reluctance at all with doing so? is perhaps the more concerning question.
Why are we, as pipers and drummers, possibly fostering an environment where there should be any fear at all? Some will contend that “all are welcomed,” but when we hear the anxiety and doubt from our fellow pipers and drummers we shouldn’t question their thoughts. They speak their truth. We should respect them and set about fixing problems of acceptance and truth.
We have to be in sync. That is the foundation of what a competitive pipe band is. We have to all be on the same page. If we’re not supporting each other, you’re going to have people with early starts, or pushing the beat. We need to be there for each other. – Rebecca Mair
We have a long way to go in piping and drumming. When members of our community are afraid to be who they are or say what they feel, it’s a problem. “Shut up and play” is a mantra we hear a lot, and we understand the idea behind that ethic when it comes to a pipe band succeeding on a certain path set by its leaders.
But when most of us are still afraid to express a simple opinion or ask a basic question for fear of retribution from yet another fusty judge or power-mad association “leader,” something is dreadfully wrong with our scene. It’s no wonder that at least as many people leave piping and drumming as join it. Our birth rate has a hard time keeping up with our death rate. And the majority of people who leave do so with a bitter taste in their mouth.
If there were one thing to change that it might be by becoming a more open and accepting and truthful culture.
In Part 1, the group discussed how they got into piping and drumming, coming out, and the levels of acceptance they encountered.
pipes|drums 2021 Pride Month Panel – Part 1
June 18, 2021
In Part 2, we saw just how courageous these four talented musicians are. They discussed the variety of cultures and levels of acceptance between piping and drumming regions around the world, and pointed out safety concerns and the added safety that being with their bands and like-minded pipers and drummers brings to them.
In Part 3, the group discusses the various clashes of culture that exist in the piping and drumming world. They also reveal several upsetting experiences they’ve endured.
We found much of their insights both illuminating and alarming.
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.
Once again, we thank these four courageous leaders for stepping up and contributing to a meaningful dialogue that has never occurred so widely in piping and drumming. We hope that inspires you, too, to have the courage to tell the truth.
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pipes|drums 2021 Pride Month Panel – Part 1
June 18, 2021
Reaching out to LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities (video)
June 4, 2021