Gay row opera will go ahead

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An opera featuring East Yorkshire schoolchildren will now go ahead after writer Lee Hall agreed to swap the word ‘queer’ for ‘gay’.

The community project stalled after a primary school complained about a gay character’s scene.

Emma Hobbs, the head of Bay Primary School in Bridlington, said she was concerned about the “emotional wellbeing” of the children and wanted to protect them from “offensive language”.

Mr Hall, who wrote Billy Elliot, accused the school of homophobia.

The year-long project, commissioned by Opera North on public money, looked set to be scrapped completely.

However, reports this morning said that the July 15th performance will go ahead after a compromise was reached.

The contentious scenes lines were originally: “Of course I’m queer/That’s why I left here/So if you infer/That I prefer/A lad to a lass/And I’m working class/I’d have to concur.”

Mr Hall has now changed the lines to: “Of course I’m gay/That’s why I went away./So if you infer/That I prefer/A lad to a lass/And him working class/I’d have to concur.”

A joint statement from Ms Hobbes and Mike Furbank, head of improvement and learning at East Riding of Yorkshire council, said: “We are delighted to announce that the revisions which the school requested have now been made and the author has addressed the points raised by the school.

“This has enabled the community opera, Beached, to continue. The final libretto is now an age appropriate text which was all the school had requested.

“The play retained the inclusion of a gay character, Professor Sewerby, who remains central to the play’s dramatic message.

“Neither the council, school or Opera North have ever expressed any concern over the inclusion of a gay character, only some of the language and tone around the character’s identity. The writer has now addressed this.

“Homophobia does not exist in any of our organisations and we take great exception to how this has been played out over the last week and we refute all such claims.