Homophobic Slur Greets Jazz Festival Announcement
The term “inappropriate” has been bandied around the Martha Graham Cracker camp quite a bit this year. In February, officials at an after-school program in New Jersey disinvited the Philly cabaret drag queen from a Dr. Seuss reading at their school because they deemed her “too inappropriate” for kids. And just when the dust is beginning to settle from that rigamarole, she’s now being told she’s inappropriate for jazz, too. But this time another word is being tossed into the mix — and it ain’t one bit pretty.
Center City Jazz Festival creator Ernest Stuart forwarded me an email sent to him from the Joey Harrison Group in response to his decision to include Martha in the lineup at this year’s festival. The subject line reads, “No fags in Jazz (Black American Music),” and the text goes on to say:
“Really, A faggot drag queen at a Jazz festival. You are disrespecting your ancestors!
There was no signature in the email except that it was sent from “www.joeyharrisongroup.com,” but there appears to only be one active user on www.joeyharrisongroup.com: Joseph Harrison. His biodescribes him as a percussion instructor and performer who “currently serves as the Director of the Children’s Choir at New Canaan Baptist Church” in Germantown.
Aside from the continuing unfairness of associating African-American life with homophbia, this appears to be an isolated incident—Stuart, the festival director, has played with Martha Graham Cracker, and besides: “I would challenge this guy to play a song that wasn’t created by a gay composer,” Stuart says. “I’m not saying all composers in jazz are gay, but the most prominent ones are.”