As a male classical pianist, Sara Davis Buechner was praised and honored in her home country. She played with some of the most prestigious orchestras in the United States and was on the brink of a promising career.
But when she decided to come out publicly as a transgender woman in 1998, Buechner was shunned by the conservative concert scene in the U.S. and had a very hard time trying to make ends meet.
“It seemed like the skies were certainly open to a lot of big orchestras and that all just closed down. It was just gone,” recalled the 54 year-old.
Buechner decided to come to Canada, where “conductors and presenters were much more open.”
“They judged me on the music itself,” she said
In 2003, Buechner accepted an offer to teach at the University of British Columbia and headed for Vancouver, where she still lives with her wife.
“Canada was my salvation in many ways,” she said.
In spite of some invitations to perform in her native country, Buechner says she’s still frustrated she’s not entirely accepted in the U.S.
She wants to stand up and show people they don’t have to be afraid to be who they are. In 2012, she spoke before a standing committee on human rights in Ottawa. Last year, she told her story in an essay featured in the New York Times.
“I wonder and kind of hope that stories like that become more and more rare as the years go by, so that it’s not a huge deal when someone is transgender, when someone is gay, when someone is green,” Buechner said with a laugh.
Sara Davis Buechner will give a solo recital tonight at the Edmonton Recital Society, in Edmonton, Alberta.
With files from the Canadian Press.