||A native and lifelong New Yorker, Mr. Gelbert has been writing about operas, political demonstrations, and other performances in New York-and Key West, San Francisco, New Orleans, Washington DC, Boston, and Sydney, Australia--for the last three decades for such publications as New York Q News.com, Fire Island Q News.com, and Fire Island News; Theater Scene.net; the New York Native, Christopher Street magazine, and Opera Monthly; Newsday; Playbill; Gay Community News, Boston, and GaysWeek/New York Gay News. Mr. Gelbert's father was an avid amateur photographer and, following in his footsteps, has contributed photos to many of the publications for which he has written.
Introduced to opera, at an early age, by his aunt, he soon studied voice with Elisabeth Carron, New York City Opera soprano, who was a classmate's aunt, and, as a performer, have sung-and acted (in Paul Rudnick's "Jeffrey") and, ["God help me,"] danced--in a dozen Arts Project of Cherry Grove community theater productions; sung with Jewish, gay and opera choruses, in AIDS benefits and other fundraisers (Pines Animal Welfare Society, Marriage Equality New York, Imperial Court of New York), and at High Holiday services with Congregation B'Nai Olam in the Pines; and appeared on television, as part of an ad hoc Gay Men's Chorus, serenading Jesse Helms at his home and his office for a "TV Nation" segment directed by Michael Moore, and in an "In the Life" clip, singing to the leather community at Folsom Street East. Mr. Gelbert has been in a few films, including Phil Zwickler's "Rights and Reactions," about the passage of New York City's gay and lesbian rights law; German filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim's autobiography/mystery thriller "Neurosia;" and some, shall we say, "adult" films.
In his teens and early 20s, he was on stage as a supernumerary with the Metropolitan Opera, and the visiting Rome Opera and National Ballet of Canada, under the direction of the likes of Franco Zeffirelli and Alvin Ailey, and observing at length and at close range the work of such legends as Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne, Leontyne Price and Richard Tucker, Renata Tebaldi, Birgit Nilsson and Franco Corelli, Shirley Verrett, Nicolai Gedda, Leonie Rysanek, Martina Arroyo, Cesare Siepi, Ingvar Wixell, Ljuba Welitsch, and Rudolf Nureyev. Favorite singers that he never worked with have included Beverly Sills, Magda Olivero, Mirella Freni, Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Marcello Giordani, Barbara Cook, Audra McDonald, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Irma Thomas, Sharon McNight and Mme Vera Galupe-Borszkh.
Being a performer, as well as a writer, having long been around performers, professional and amateur, and appreciating how demanding it is to perform before the public, gives Bruce-Michael an empathy with performing artists that he hopes informs my writing about their efforts.
At about the same time that he was working at the Met--["my coming out process began during a performance of "Aida""]-- he also discovered Gay Liberation and was an early member of Gay Activists Alliance and the Gay Community at Queens College. Mr. Gelbert worked at the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, the gay bookstore in the Village, for about six years and, later, for 16 years, in the executive offices of New York State Attorneys General Robert Abrams and G. Oliver Koppell, serving informally, on occasion, as their gay liaison. He was active in GLAAD in its early days as well. During my decade of reviewing music for the New York Native, I joined Tim Page (then of Newsday and now of the Washington Post) on public radio for a discussion of AIDS and music, contributed an article about opera to Garland Publishing's Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, and moderated a panel discussion about "The AIDS Quilt Songbook," involving writers, performers, a composer and a publicist, at A Different Light bookstore. More recently, was chosen as Mr. Fire Island Leather 2001.
"I've been in three long-term relationships, the longest with the late Joachim G.C. Ragoczy (nine years), who was once President of the Greek and Eastern Orthodox gay group, Axios. My life partner, for the last four years, has been Joe Saporito, with whom I live in Park Slope and Cherry Grove. He was my fourth successor as Mr. Fire Island Leather (2005), has taken photos for Q News, Fire Island News, and Fire Island Tide, and is studying nursing as a second career. Some of my best friends, beside Joe, are Greg Klosek; Hal Offen (of GAA, GLAAD, San Francisco and the Bronx); Dr. Jane Testa, Barbara Campagna and their son Michael Jo Campagna Testa; Paul Kimball; Rob Lucero; and Richard Holmes, not to mention my publishers, CJ Mingolelli and Marco Herrera. Cats have always been part of my life."
Some of Bruce-Michael's favorite writers have been Christopher Isherwood, Tennessee Williams, Gertrude Stein, Gore Vidal, Edith Nesbit, Anne Rice and Julie Smith.
So now you know something of the person behind the writing.