I have been blessed by many people who have courageously spoken out in ways that teach and sustain we who are weary of homophobia, exclusion and injustice. One such person is David Clenney who has generously allowed me to share part of his story.
David is the founder and director of the Westside Opera Society which began at Trinity Church on the Upper West Side in 1982. Over the past several years, he has organized a Bel Canto opera series to raise money for Trinity Place, our shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth.
The operas David has produced are filled with romantic treachery and betrayals. David grew up with a different kind of betrayal. His parents could not accept that he seemed different from other children. He was beaten violently and battered verbally. He made his operatic debut at age 11 as a boy soprano. It bothered his parents that he was singing “like a girl,” which earned him more abuse. His father tried to talk him out of his Carnegie Hall debut as a soprano saying that he would be beaten up when he came out of the theater. David prevailed.
For the past few years, David has faced a different sort of treachery, the kind that comes from cancer. He has undergone numerous, painful and exhausting treatments, but in the midst of them, he rises from bed to direct the operas. He says it keeps him going to know that he is able to help other youth escape the horror he endured.
The beautiful song that David offers with such courage and generosity helps sustain our shelter, providing a place of rest for the weary. David’s witness sustains me when I grow weary. I hope it does the same for you.