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27 August 2014, 13:49
American opera singer Valerian Ruminski has been removed from the cast of an Opera Lyra production of Puccini's Tosca after posting a photo and comments about a drag artist on Facebook.
Ruminski used Facebook to post a picture of a man on a bus in Ottawa, Samnang Tep (also known as drag queen Miss Jade London), and accompanied it with a critique of the man's appearance, specifically his fingernails.
He wrote: "Look 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."
The post, which was screen-grabbed by other social media users, has attracted a hail of criticism over Ruminski's comments.
The screen-grabs show Ruminski attempting to explain his original posting: "He is ASKING for criticism by parading his choices in front of everyone."
The man in the picture, Samnang Tep, told CBC News: "I almost broke down in tears to be honest, I didn't think someone would be that hurtful on social media — especially from a celebrity."
Ruminski posted a lengthy statement on his website regarding his Facebook post, saying: "I did not know him. I did not know if he was smart or witty or dull. I didn’t take the time to say hello or greet him. 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."
He concluded the statement with an apology: "I am Valerian Ruminski, opera singer, hetero male, orphaned son, liberal, progressive, tolerant and accepting of all. But I made a big mistake last week. Please forgive me."
Opera Lyra's director Jeep Jeffries said he was "disappointed and appalled."