"Russia needs to understand that there are millions of people worldwide who are offended by the Russian government's treatment of the LGBT community at the moment," stated Babsi Pusca.
Words of strong conviction.
So, just who is Babsi Pusca?
Well, she's the German lead vocalist of the North London band, Pusca. Recently, Babsi contacted me through my online home. I suspect that before too long, she and her band will become quite a familiar name in America.
I interviewed Babsi for two main reasons: One, I'm into alternative music. But most importantly, the artist -- who's straight -- is a committed ally and friend to/of the LGBT community.
The vocalist discussed the LGBT rights protest statement she made during the 2014 Winter Olympics, held in Sochi, Russia, this past February. As well, she provided insight into how and why she feels such a strong kinship to our community.
Feedback Theatre describes Pusca's music this way: "Taking the narrative cues from traditional English and Celtic folk music, their material touches on the social and the personal, placing the story as the song. Their set recalls numerous musical influences that fuse into a dynamic Alternative/Indie/Americana sound with a West Coast feel. Edith Sitwell (British poet and critic) described them as 'Pearl Jam meets The Smiths at a party Lou Reed threw for Blondie'."
Babsi added, "Our music sounds unique in a way; we are doing something that hasn't been done before. Although we do get compared to the likes of Blondie or The Cranberries (due to the similar vocal sound mainly, but otherwise we are different), we are doing our own thing."
Last August, the band played live to more than 10,000 listeners on Rag Radio, with the YouTube performance garnering nearly 15,000 views. And last November, Pusca released their album, Secrets Half-Revealed.
Babsi was struck by actor and writer Stephen Fry's cry for athletes participating in the Winter Olympics to cross their arms on the podium to protest Russia's anti-LGBT laws. In an interview with the Metro.co.uk, the vocalist stated, "'I thought Stephen Fry had a fantastic idea to enable those participating in the games to be able to make a subtle protest.'"
According to the media outlet, "The actor and writer suggested the gesture to be used instead of boycotting the controversial sporting event."
The media outlet continued, "And he has now signaled approval for a song and music video taking up his idea and urging sportsmen and women, as well as spectators, to cross their arms across their chests in solidarity. London-based German singer Babsi has recorded a newly-written song, 'We Are Everywhere', with a YouTube video demonstrating the gesture."
The song is included in Babsi, the vocalist's solo album, scheduled for release later this year. Her bandmate, Damian Clay, who is gay, penned "We Are Everywhere" and directed the video. He told Metro.co.uk, "'It's more important than ever that we have some way of letting the Russian LGBT community know that they have some support from the countries who are participating.'"
Recently, I had a rather engaging conversation with the very personable and down-to-earth Babsi.
WOE: Babsi, thanks so much for agreeing to speak to me. Just why do you consider yourself a loyal ally to/of the LGBT community?
Babsi: Although I'm straight, I'm surrounded by many friends who are either gay or lesbian. I know what the issues are, and having been bullied at school myself (for diverse other reasons including having a stutter), I know exactly how someone who's different feels. I don't understand why individuals with a different sexual orientation should be treated differently; everyone should be free to decide who they love. I see the LGBT community as a natural division of humanity; its members need to be supported and their rights respected.
WOE: Have any of your LGBT friends been harassed or/and discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, and if so, how has that affected you?
Babsi: In the U.K. now, I think that open discrimination is at the lowest it has been. Only time now will change things significantly, as there tends to be less bigotry with youth. I know from Damian, my bandmate, that he still feels uncomfortable holding hands with his partner in certain areas of London, because no matter how liberal things get, there will always be some nasty people out there. We've a long way to go in the U.K. still with transgendered rights and the attitude of society to transgendered people. Staring, pointing, expressing extremely bigoted opinions about the transgendered with little understanding still seems to be the norm.
WOE: Babsi, do you believe that artists, who rely on their fans to make a living, should take a stance against injustices like homophobia?
Babsi: I think there should be a financial and cultural boycott against any country which imprisons and/or executes people for their sexuality. I think artists should refuse to play in these countries. Other than that, it's entirely up to them. The ideal artist would fight against all injustice and be unafraid to tell truth to power in the old-fashion sense of being an artist -- but not everyone is geared up for that; in some cases it might be like asking a politician to do brain surgery!
WOE: Thanks for your time, and much continued success!
Babsi: My pleasure, Wyatt! I appreciate the opportunity to express my points of view.
You may contact Babsi via Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Wyatt O'Brian Evans on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MisterWOE