Opera Singer Fired For Facebook Rant Against Drag Queen: VIDEO

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Opera singer Valerian Ruminski [pictured below] does not like men decorating their nails. He dislikes it so much, in fact, that he took to Facebook to complain – at length – after encountering a man on the OC Transpo bus who had long, jewel-studded nails. Said Ruminski, in part:

RuminskiLook at the stupid nails this moron had on while taking a bus in Ottawa. I guess he needs diamond-studded nails to make up for his face.
[H]e is asking for criticism by parading his choices in front of everyone. Like the black males who wear their pants down off their asses. They WANT you to notice it and get angered by it. Thats [sic] part of the strategy. He has an agenda by gluing diamonds onto his nails…and so do I by commenting on how stupid it is!

It would seem Ruminski wasn’t aware that things posted on Facebook are not private. Even with privacy settings maxed out, all it takes is one friend or follower to screencap a post and then it’s out in the wild, which is exactly what happened. Karma was quick and Ruminski was fired from his role in Puccini’s Tosca to start this fall. 

Opera Lyra general director Jeep Jeffries said that he was “disappointed and appalled, to be honest,” in an interview on CBC Radio’s All in a Day. For his part, Ruminski has posted a lengthy public apology to his website, complete with the “I’ve had gay teachers and friends” line and an attempt at identifying with the total stranger he tried to publicly humiliate:

I didn’t take the time to pause and think and consider that we are all special and that this person was different in a way that was unique to everyone else around us. I am an opera singer. He, as I learned, is a drag queen. The two of us are not too far apart, I guess.

No, Ruminksi, you and drag queens are actually quite far apart. Drag queens, for example, actually know how to read.

You can see a video report of the incident AFTER THE JUMP…

[photo via Facebook]

Comments

  1. Jonathan says

    This is ridiculous. He should not be fired because he can’t stand drag queens and expresses his opinion. Gay men are becoming like feminists: “There can be nothing in this world that insults me and the definition of rape should include being leered at, that’s my right.” No it isn’t. This is just stupid.

  2. Jonathan says

    This is ridiculous. He should not be fired because he can’t stand drag queens and expresses his opinion. Gay men are becoming like feminists: “There can be nothing in this world that insults me and the definition of rape should include being leered at, that’s my right.” No it isn’t. This is just stupid.

  3. Jonathan says

    This is ridiculous. He should not be fired because he can’t stand drag queens and expresses his opinion. Gay men are becoming like feminists: “There can be nothing in this world that insults me and the definition of rape should include being leered at, that’s my right.” No it isn’t. This is just stupid.

  4. Jonathan says

    This is ridiculous. He should not be fired because he can’t stand drag queens and expresses his opinion. Gay men are becoming like feminists: “There can be nothing in this world that insults me and the definition of rape should include being leered at, that’s my right.” No it isn’t. This is just stupid.

  5. Jay says

    If everyone who said or posted stupid things were fired, there would be very few employed people. Ruminski crossed the line when he took the picture without Jade London’s permission. But he has apologized and asked for forgiveness. He has learned his lesson and should be forgiven. I hope he is hired again by Ottawa’s Opera Lyra and other companies, and that he never rants on Facebook again. (BTW, there is nothing comparable in his ill-considered rant to that of the egregious letter posted by the Georgian soprano in which she called gay people “fecal masses.” She justly was fired by Opera Australia. I hope she never works again in the West. She truly is a homophobe. I don’t think Ruminski is.)

  6. Markt says

    I don’t think he should be fired. The substance of what he said is accurate. The nails or whatever decoration were meant to bring attention to the drag queens difference – and do force you to pass judgment. Judging from the apology the drag queen was successful in making him question his outlook. All’s well that ends well I say.

  7. jjose712 says

    Jonathan: Yes, he should be fired. If you are stupid enough to post your rants on facebook, it’s only a question of time you let your bosses do a bad figure in an interview.

    And frankly, the article didn’t say anything of gays asking him to be fired

  8. Mike says

    There’s a trend I don’t like of gay people I follow on Twitter posting photos of strangers for commentary, some good some very ugly commentary. Even if you want to run over and have them sit on your face, you had no permission to post theirs.

  9. charlie says

    this is a slippery slope. thanks to technology we are all turning into paparazzi and critics. hardly seems appropriate to loose one’s employment over what would have been a letter to the editor 20 years ago. also how much privacy is expected from riding public transportation? I’ve heard some pretty viscous things said by drag queens publicly also. clearly he did cross a line by posting the picture but who doesn’t have the technology to do this now? where do we draw the line on what is acceptable? seems to me he was fired because his employers feared some sort of civil action if they ignored the situation.

  10. JJ says

    He shouldn’t be fired for expressing his opinion if he doesn’t supervise anyone. If he has authority over others and his rant betrays a racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted attitude—I think railing against gender nonconformity qualifies—then I think his employer is justified in disciplining him, which could include firing, though I think there are probably more constructive responses. Posting someone’s photo for ridicule is public bullying, which crosses a line, in my opinion, and deserves a more critical look. I don’t care one way or the other if they discipline him for that, whether or not he’s in a position of authority. Again, there are probably more constructive approaches than firing.

  11. LiamB says

    When you work for a company, and are in a public spotlight, you represent that company, whether you like it or not. Companies have every right to fire someone they feel behaves in a manner that poorly represent them. Sorry, but that is the real world.

    If he had merely expressed these opinions to friends, or in a similarly private manner,then the situation would have been different. Instead, he chose to be very public, and thus held accountable. Had he done similar about women, Jews or racial minorities, the same would likely have happened. Not sure why this is such a difficult concept for some.

  12. Bill says

    His hair is forcing me to make judgments about him. It’s there to make me angry and just asking me to criticize this man for his lack of style and his obvious lack of conditioner. Why is his taste not on my level, why is he forcing me to participate in his ego issues?

  13. says

    Wow, those nails really got him furious!

    Ironic given that opera is drag with singing. If someone on a bus unhinged him so much that he felt the need to rant about it on Facebook, it’s likely that’s the tip of the anger-issues iceberg. It’s shocking that public personalities somehow think that Facebook is a private forum. If you spout something on FB or Twitter, you may as well be singing it from the stage. He’ll either learn something from this or become even more irrationally angry–his choice.

  14. JJ says

    “When you work for a company, and are in a public spotlight, you represent that company, whether you like it or not.”

    No. You represent the company if the terms of your employment agreement say you represent the company. Otherwise you don’t. Employment isn’t some kind of indentured servitude where companies can make open ended, unilateral, ever expanding claims of authority over your life.

    “Sorry, but that is the real world.”

    No, it’s just you not knowing the difference between employment and extortion.

  15. Mikey says

    People, this is a Canadian opera company, located in the national capital. Of course he should have been fired. We Canadians don’t tolerate this sort of stupidity.

  16. says

    Isn’t it funny how racism and homophobia just go hand in hand? Because only black males sag their pants. It’s not like I’ve never seen non-black guys sag their pants. It’s exclusive to us.

  17. borut says

    He says those fingernails are a symptom of “deficiencies and deficits,” but his own issues, which make him lash out at people like this, must be much worse than the drag queen’s.

  18. Merv says

    It’s ridiculous. Why should we be forced to use a pseudonym every time we post something “controversial.” He wasn’t advocating discrimination, and his criticism was pretty mild.

  19. JohnAGJ says

    Personally I don’t think he should have been fired. Yet, the opera company is well within its rights to do so especially if it deems that this man’s rant impacts their public image. I would agree that the nails look a bit ridiculous, others undoubtedly think otherwise, but his rant about them was far in excess of how much I care about them. If the young man likes them and thinks they enhance his appearance, I don’t agree but so what? It’s his body so good for him if he wants to wear them. We judge people by their appearances all the time. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Hence why sites like “Hot or Not” and “PeopleofWalMart.com” are so popular. Anyone who claims that they don’t frankly is lying IMO.

  20. JMC says

    This guy is a lunatic – going on a homophobic (and randomly racist) rampage and painting himself as some kind of victim because.. he saw a man with a manicure on a bus? What the hell??

    Also, why are people calling this guy a drag queen?

  21. BobN says

    From his page:

    I suppose the best way to explain myself is the way that I made my big mistake. I will write it out. I have been writing caustic blurbs about politics and religion and many other topics on my Facebook page since Facebook came out back in 2008. I have a tendency to want to shock and stimulate conversation. For me it’s a way to express myself in a chaotic world where there are so many things wrong. Over-population, war, disease, climate change, gender inequality, cruelty to wildlife and so on and so on…

    Leaving aside the wisdom of anyone ranting on FaceBook about, well, anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if his rants about religion would have been just as “caustic”, as he puts it, and many of us here would have “liked it”…

  22. parkrunner says

    JJ, if you are employed by a company, you do represent that company. If it was Flo who freaked out on Facebook, Geico would have yanked her apron yesterday. Ask Mel Gibson if Spielberg’s returning his calls.
    Jonathan, I once got three identical Land’s End sweaters from my 80 yo grandmother.

  23. says

    very proud of the canadian opera company (not the COC, but you knew that from the article…) for doing this. there’s no room for hate in art. sorry.

    and….an opera singer taking issue with “Flamboyance?”

    Quoth the Raven, “Blanche, please”

    as for the “slippery slope” ninnies – here’s how it works, at least in Canada – we like safe inclusive environments. this bigot made it clear he’s a prejudiced worm. thus – working alongside him would be uncomfortable for any LGBTQ or non-bigoted straight folks. thus, he gets the boot.

    that’s how it works. he wasn’t “just expressing his opinion” – he was expressing a decidedly bigoted one, steeped in the rather-historical misogynistic homophobia we all know too well.

    and heaven help the weak men in here who think that “being visibly different” invites bigotry and hatred and “criticism” – wake up, and grow a spine. respect and grace are not just for those who blend into the masses the way an insecure culture would demand.

  24. TheTruth says

    There was no racism here, as hard as many of you will try to believe.

    And his commentary was spot on. People who are desperate for attention do things like that, because without their antics nobody will pay attention to them. And for those kinds of people, it’s frightening to think they have no intrinsic qualities that will draw someone’s interest.

  25. DannyEastVillage says

    waitta minute–that Asian dude is who Ruminski was reacting to? For real? Good god, maybe it’s just because I live in New York, but that person wouldn’t get as much as a second look on the street or on the subway. And Ruminsky lives in the City, so he should definitely know better. He needs counseling.

  26. Hue-Man says

    Technology hasn’t changed the rules of human decency. The test has always been to put yourself in the other person’s shoes: would you – as them – be happy about whatever you said, wrote, or tweeted about them?

    Pre-interwebs, he could have painted up signs and mimeographed handouts that complained about this person he saw. He could have written letters to the editor of every newspaper, appeared on TV and radio, gone to anti-hate conventions, etc. My guess his employer would have fired him after the appropriate warnings then, too.

    Have you forgotten this infamous story? “The U.S. District Court jury awarded Christopher Armstrong $4.5 million in a lawsuit over blog posts former Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell wrote accusing him of recruiting people to become homosexual.” http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/lawyer-ordered-pay-4-5-million-gay-university-michigan-student-anti-gay-blog-posts-article-1.1138533

  27. says

    @TheTruth: His commentary wasn’t spot on. It was rabid and nutty. Normal people don’t get infuriated by other people’s fashion choices, however much that fashion doesn’t suit their tastes.

    Actually, it’s Ruminski who was desperate for attention, not a person minding their own business on a bus. He’s admitted as much by saying he posts intentionally provocative things on Facebook to shock and get noticed. He got noticed, but not for positive reasons, as he’s discovered.

  28. UmYeah says

    He’s only sorry because he got caught. What he wrote was not a ‘fashion statement’. It was hate-filled rhetoric. Bravo Opera Lyra for doing the right thing. Bye bye career. I hope it was fun while it lasted because I doubt you’ll be getting much work from now on. Especially work in industry that has a very lengthy memory especially regarding crap like this.

  29. Scar2 says

    He should definitely be fired. The Arts are partly funded by the government in much of Canada, including Ottawa Opera. It’s in Canada’ constitution to respect diversity & multiculturalism. Plus, Ottawa is Canada’s capital city. I’m glad this guy apologized but that was just a stupid and bigoted rant.

  30. Atticus Bennett says

    @Ernie-

    “Normal people don’t get infuriated by other people’s fashion choices”

    What is normal, Ernie and who are you to say what is normal? Who appointed you Pope of normality?

  31. says

    Troll – just so you know, when you come here every day to get MY attention (i.e., you’re now choosing to use the name Atticus Bennett, which is the name of my instagram account) what you’re really doing is proving me right. You’re a coward. Nobody loves you. You know they don’t. So you come here every day desperate for attention from me. With each day you make it more and more clear, Troll – vying for my attention is the only distraction you have from the worthless void you call a life.

  32. Jamie says

    Wait a minute, he attacks a dude for wearing diamonds on his nails, not for being gay. But when he apologizes, he talks about how he has gay friends.

    He obviously assumes that wearing diamonds on your nails is related to being gay. And as we all know, there are a few broken males here on Towleroad and in the world who think exactly the same way. You can see in this story the confluence of traditional homophobia and the internalized homophobia that gets repackaged as “queer” or “LGBT”. Both versions of this toxic worldview see gay men as less than men. Both versions must be fought. It is insufficient to fight one but give a pass to the other.

  33. says

    How about you show us all who you are, Jamie? click record on your camera, make a video, and put your face to your apparent concerns. it’d be a better use of your time than what you’ve spent the last few hours doing, which has been trying to draw negative attention to me by using screen names associated with me.

  34. ratbastard says

    The gist of what he said, that people do shyt like walk around with their pants falling down, or other things, do it for attention. They like the attention it brings, the drama. And they often can’t wait for someone to stare for a split second longer, so they can then pretend outrage and cop an attitude. Classic attention seekong ploys, which also involve a desire for control.

    EOM

  35. Bill says

    His big mistake was being a tenor. If he was a baritone playing Scarpia (it seems he was in a production of Tosca), he could have passed it off by saying that he was acting like a jerk to stay in character.

    Besides, all the drag queens would then buy tickets to see Tosca stab him to death during the second act!

  36. says

    anyone here read Ethan Mordden’s “The Venice Adriana”? if not – immediately locate a copy. you’ll thank me. trust.

    anyway, within it the young gay american in venice delivers an utterly blistering verbal smack-down to an aging opera singer’s homophobic ramblings. its EPIC.

  37. Douglas says

    go back to the US and join the Tea Party. You obviously share their views. You are halfway there after all your backpedaling anyway. This is Canada and we respect peoples differences even if it may make us uncomfortable. I hope you never work in this country again.

  38. Eileen Breen says

    STATEMENT FOR THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY
    By Dustin Hiles
    August 28th, 2014

    Dear Friends, I’m writing to you as both an artist and proud member of the LGBTQ community. This past week has seen some very intense emotional responses, on both sides, in regards to the hurtful and thoughtless comments made by my colleague Mr. Valerian Ruminski. Having been the original poster of the screenshot which led to the outpouring of support to Mrs. Jade London, both myself and my manager Darya Chrenowski were deeply hurt and offended as we saw an attack on someone very close to our hearts. But after talking with my colleague Mr. Ruminski, I believe his stupid and thoughtless comments were just that and in fact not gay bashing or homophobic. Just stupid mean spirited social commentary. Mr. Ruminski I believe has learned his lesson, being fired from our national opera company as well as feeling the force of which we are willing to defend gay rights and our own community members. He Is extremely sorry and repentant for his remarks and willing to do anything to show our community that he is proud to support and stand for LGBTQ rights. Through myself he has also reached out to Jade, as to make a personal face to face apology for his hurtful remarks. I truly believe he has learned his lesson and I personally am willing to forgive and move on.
    Your Friend,
    Dustin Hiles
    Canadian Tenor

    STATEMENT TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY
    By Valerian Ruminski
    August 28th, 2014

    This is to let every member of the LGBT community, in Canada and everywhere, know that I am now, have been and always shall be in support of a diverse agenda of gender equality including gay marriage and equal rights in all areas of life.

    My thoughtless statements were in no way an indication of intolerance towards the LGBT community. If I had taken the time to meet Mr. Jade London I am sure we would have enjoyed an enriching dialogue. I apologize to him for saying anything disparaging about his appearance and his diamond studded nails.

    I went on an unthinking rant at the end of a long day which is not indicative of the relationships I have built with people in my life or of my achievements. I can do much better than that.

    I promise to be more LGBT aware wherever I go. I also promise to judge no one except by their actions and to be careful of labeling or stereotyping. If anyone in the LGBT community has been offended by my mindless rant I offer an apology and ask for forgiveness. As I stated in my testimonial I have been staunchly pro-gay all my life. But I have not kept my eyes open enough to appreciate diversity in ALL of its forms.

    I hope the LGBT community can take the time to read my testimonial and look at my life to see that I have no history of gay bashing or hate talk and that I am, to a large extent, a product of the gay community. I hope they can find it in themselves to forgive me.

  39. northalabama says

    if this was his first offense, i think his firing was extreme, but within the rights of his employer none the less.

    this is why i don’t use facebook or twitter, ever – as well-meaning or careful as i try to be, it seems that occasionally something i say is misunderstood or misinterpreted by someone, and one person being unintentionally offended is too many. i’d rather do damage control one-on-one, not through social media.

  40. oncemorewithfeeling says

    Nobody could possibly be surprised that the trolls of Trollroad are against having real-world repercussions for behaving like an idiot online.

    Can you imagine if the resident trolls actually had consequences for their actions? They would be banished forever from being the center of attention here.

    Of course, if everybody ignored them instead of making almost every comments thread about them, we could easily achieve that exact same outcome.

    But, no! We must practice solidarity with the trolls on Trollroad and trolls everywhere! Trolls today, trolls tomorrow, trolls forever!

  41. QuarterToTooLate says

    @ EILEEN BREEN/DUSTIN HILES

    “not gay bashing or homophobic.”
    Um – What?! You’re not fooling me. Valerian Ruminski is a homophobic POS. In addition, he LIED when he said he wasn’t homophobic and didn’t know or care about the sexual orientation of the guy he was publicly humiliating.
    How many straight males out there aren’t SO ENTRENCHED in their straight gender performance that they’re capable of wearing long diamond encrusted nails?! – Have you or Valerian Ruminski seen many – or ANY?! Or was he just being a liar about not having an idea bout the orientation of the guy he was ridiculing?!

    He can’t have remorse when his apology is really NOT an apology but an excuse filled with lies. “just mean spirited social commentary” – what a crock!

    First of all, HOW DARE HE take a photo of someone IN PUBLIC without their knowledge and then post it online with nasty comments! Who does he think he is?! “My thoughtless statements were in no way an indication of intolerance…” Oh no?! Then what is an appropriate word for some slimy s*** who secretly takes photos of someone and then tells ‘everyone’ online how this person was DELIBERATELY trying to provoke angry negative responses?! A hate monger? A rabblerouser? A BIGOT?!

    Secondly, one doesn’t use the words “PARADING his CHOICES”(both in the same sentence no less), or “he has an AGENDA” without revealing their entrenchment in anti-gay dogmas.
    PARADING…flaunting…
    LIFESTYLE CHOICE
    GAY-AGENDA…
    We can see what he was doing. Anti-gay pundits do it ALL-THE-TIME.

    Please, EILEEN BREEN/DUSTIN HILES, you may not have the sensibility gay people do to comprehend when a homophobe is expressing their homophobic ‘straight pride’, but WE DO.

    Also, what about the racist undertone as well?! “Like the black males…” Really?!

    I do NOT accept Valerian Ruminski’s faux apology. He’s a scum bag and a liar.

    The gay community deserves better allies than him – with allies like him… well you know the rest.

  42. Daniel says

    See, if opera alienates gay audience members there just isn’t that much audience left. If gay audience members don’t want to see this guy ticket sales drop and let’s be honest–opera can’t afford to lose its audience.

  43. Homer says

    Why shouldn’t Ruminski be fired? I don’t think his right to have and express an opinion isn’t the issue and as such shouldn’t be used by his defenders. As I see it, the real issue is that everyone in a free society should realize that each right provided an individual carry a corresponding responsibility on how to wield these rights within society in general and as to how we deal with each other in particular. These rights cannot be used as a “get out of jail” card whenever they are used irresponsibly and individuals who arbitrarily use these rights to discriminate against or denigrate people who, for example, do not dress in a manner that they approve of should expect sanctions either from the law or from a disapproving community relative to which expressions of remorse may prove insufficient.

  44. Bill says

    @northalabama: @Homer: @oncemorewithfeeling:

    It’s worth pointing out that reasons to be a bit lenient with him given that the “tweet” seems to be an isolated incident are:

    1. People are just learning to use “social media.” With Twitter’s 140 character limit, it is hard to be nuanced. Tone of voice, not to mention the state of intoxication (if someone posted something after a long day at work and a couple of cocktails upon reaching home) are not conveyed.

    2. Opera singers are not professional writers, and like most people will not always be aware of how something sounds out of context. If someone ‘tweeted’ a snide remark after an in-person argument with someone, one’s view of the remark will be different when hearing it in isolation than when hearing it in context.

    3. If the rule is that nobody can ever make a mistake, nobody will ever learn much of anything: you only get better at something by pushing your limits, and that means making mistakes and not being successful every so often.

    So I’d say we should give him a break, and not ruin his career over what will hopefully turn out to be an isolated mistake. If the mistakes turn out to be not so isolated, it’s a different situation.

  45. says

    @Bill: For the record, his remark wasn’t on Twitter, it was on Facebook, no 140 character limit. He wasn’t a social media novice; he said he rants often on a variety of topics and does so with the intention to provoke. He should have known that FB is a public forum and that what you say there and on other social media ripples out to both your personal and professional lives–that’s social media 101. No one who uses it with any regularity should be surprised by the consequences of being a public a-hole, especially if you’re in the public eye. And if he didn’t get that, he does now.

    If his rant had been a lame attempt at snark or humor … But it was humorless and unhinged, homophobic and racist, weirdly angry. His opera company, knowing their audience, said, Nope, that doesn’t fly.

    It sounds like he’s trying–maybe–to learn from this. If he does, yes, he shouldn’t be punished for the rest of his life. But that’s really up to his potential employers …

  46. Bill says

    @Ernie : I didn’t know it was facebook, but the idea that facebook is a public forum is problematic: their are apparently a slew of privacy settings that make it sound like you can control who sees what but whose configuration is so complicated that the privacy you think you get has nothing to do with the privacy you actually get. And then, every so often, they change it.

    It’s bad enough that I refuse to sign up for an account with that company. I don’t trust them, particularly after I found out that they were keeping records on me when I didn’t even have an account with them.(got some spam from them listing various people I know, at least one of whom told me that he didn’t even have me listed in his address book – we had exchanged a couple of emails where I sent him a link to some technical documentation.)

    If he is using facebook, I wouldn’t blame him for not figuring out how the privacy settings actually work.

    BTW, it wasn’t easy to get facebook to leave me alone either – their “opt out” button was in a language I didn’t even recognize. Finally I copied some of the text of it into a google search to see what top-level dmoains showed up in the URLs. Turns out it was Indonesian.

  47. MaryM says

    The rule of thumb for Facebook (or Twitter or Instagram) is that EVERYTHING you post on there is public (regardless of your privacy settings).

    Why people don’t get this is a mystery.

  48. says

    @Bill: I imagine what you got was spam, and not really from Facebook, but I’m no expert on that. I’ve never heard of needing to opt out of Facebook. Either you join voluntarily, or you don’t.

    The opera guy’s homophobic rants are scrubbed from his public FB page now but there are plenty of other rants (liberal-leaning) he obviously posted with the intention of them being public. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re a public ranter, make sure you’re in a personal and professional position to be a provocateur.

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