Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Yannick Nézet-Séguin

(Updated since the original 2013 post) A native of Montreal, Canada, Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Yah-NEEK neh-ZAY Say-GAN) (b. 1975) was first named Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2012, and subsequent contract extensions assure this position through the 2025-26 season. This makes him the first openly gay conductor of one of the "big five" orchestras in the United States. 

In 2016 the Metropolitan Opera (NYC) announced that Nézet-Séguin would assume the title of Music Director beginning with the 2020-21 season, but following the termination of James Levine for sexual misconduct, he took the title two years early, beginning with the 2018-19 season.

Since 2000 Mr. Nézet-Séguin has also been Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), and he has conducted all the major ensembles in his native Canada.

He was also Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra from 2008-2018, and today holds the title of Ehredirigent (honorary conductor) of that organization.

Mr. Nézet-Séguin’s partner of sixteen years, Pierre Tourville (shown in sunglasses behind Yannick), is the assistant principal violist of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), and they appear everywhere together. When the conductor was fêted by the city of Philadelphia some years ago, Pierre Tourville was also introduced at every stop – amazing, considering the tortured history of gay conductors. After all, Leonard Bernstein had married a woman at the advice of famed conductor Dmitri Mitropoulos, and both those men led closeted lives.

In a New York Times profile by Daniel Wakin, it was reported that “Nézet-Séguin is what the orchestra world is desperate for: a young, charismatic maestro who can win the respect, even affection, of grizzled orchestra veterans, the enthusiasm of audiences and the praise of critics, which has for him been pretty exalted.”

The 46-year-old conductor’s youth is reflected in his flouting of certain traditions – he frequently leads from the podium in a business suit and tie (Carnegie Hall), and he’s partial to tight V-neck sweaters and skinny jeans. Many times he conducts without a baton, in the style of Mitropoulos. While on vacation in Tahiti he acquired a turtle tattoo on his right shoulder, and his compact five-foot-five frame bursts with energy.

Again from Mr. Wakin’s NYT profile: “He seemed stunned by the ovation” (conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra in Verdi’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall). “Applause from his inner circle greeted him in the crowded dressing room. Attendants broke open bottles of sparkling wine. Mr. Nézet-Séguin embraced his companion, Mr. Tourville, looked him in the eyes and said, ‘Oui?’

‘Oui,’ Mr. Tourville answered. With an air of coronation, orchestra and Carnegie Hall executives toasted Mr. Nézet-Séguin. “

The conductor’s honors include a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society Award, Canada’s highly coveted National Arts Centre Award and the Prix Denise-Pelletier, the highest distinction for the arts in Quebec, awarded by the Quebec government.  In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Quebec in Montreal and was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2012.


  1. "his flaunting of certain traditions" - I think you mean flouting.

  2. Why would u say Philadelphia is not progressive? It has a thriving cultural and food scene. It is a green city and millennial a are flocking to it. For gays, there's an entire gayborhood numerous open gay bars and domestic partnership benefits under law.

    You probably have never been here.

    1. Very true. I'm glad you copied from a NYT article also.

    2. Right-- and don't forget Philadelphia is the only UNESCO city in the USA!

    3. The UNESCO City in the US, as regards music, is Kansas City (Missouri).

  3. You should be covering James Levine too. His alleged genius and alleged misdeeds are quite a story.

  4. How fabulous! So different to the life of crazy, mixed up Lenny. Jx