Robert Bruce Lindey, known to us as Rob, was a co-founder of Rainbow Harmony Project. He was the first and remained our primary accompanist for over twenty years, generously sharing with us his time, talent, and wisdom.
Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Rob studied piano at a young age and attended the Conservatory in Toronto. When he moved to Winnipeg in his early twenties, he quickly involved himself in its musical and gay and lesbian communities. He was a wise political and legal counsel to various RHP boards and directors through some tumultuous years. He was always adamant that RHP should be inclusive and unite gays and lesbians, not lead to a splintering into subgroups as had occurred in other cities. He was a champion of serious musical and activist performances as well as humorous and entertaining crowd-pleasing theatrics.
Rob had an intuitive sense of how to support others as he did over twenty years ago, before RHP's very first spring concert in 2000. He talked to us, reassuring and encouraging the singers, some of whom were not only singing in public for the first time, but also ‘out’ in public for the first time. His energy and enthusiasm were infectious, motivating many of us to make our initial trips to Unison and GALA choir events in Canada and the United States.
Throughout North America, Rob played at hundreds of RHP choir performances, and played at even more of our rehearsals and sectionals. Many in the alto section, who usually sat near him during practice, can recall the pained faces Rob made when an alto or two may have been just a teensy bit off key, or let's face it, singing the wrong notes altogether. When this happened, Rob would strike the correct alto notes while still playing the accompaniment. We’re sure he would have done the same for the tenor and soprano sections too, but we know they never make mistakes! Rob was unfailingly kind, tactful, helpful, and patient in pointing out "errors" we would make in our singing, and flexible when the director wanted to make changes to the tempo or style.
As a member of the choir's Music Team, Rob was instrumental in finding queer repertoire for us to perform. Many of these songs have become anthemic touchstones for the choir and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. This music is also a non-threatening way of communicating with the larger, heteronormative society. Singing is a form of "soft power" that can touch hearts and change minds. It has done so at churches that became affirming of gay rights, on the steps of the Legislature, in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and at public concerts. Anywhere that people will listen. Rob understood the power of music and lived his life accordingly.
Activism was an integral part of Rob’s makeup. As a lawyer, affiliated with EGALE, Rob worked to prohibit sexual orientation as a reason for discrimination in both the Provincial and Federal Human Rights Acts, as well as lobbying for the right to gay marriage.
You also can’t think of Rob without remembering his love for Whippets. Rob and David Markus, his first husband, bred, raised, exhibited, and judged the gentle breed for over thirty years. Macy was his special last beloved ‘daughter’.
After David’s death, Rob was fortunate to find love again with Anthony Audain. Together they formed an independent theatre production company called Jazz Haz Productions and Rob’s skill as composer and performer was invaluable as he created musical scores for Anthony’s storytelling scripts. They were married in November, 2021, in Toronto, where they had moved during the pandemic.
To quote Anthony, “Rob was a kind, gentle, shy, generous, proud, and compassionate man with a passion for life and the arts. His smile would light up any room, and there was always a hint of unexplored mischief in the twinkle in his eyes. Once you got to know him, you would recognize it, instantly. He enjoyed a good laugh and joyfully gave, and enjoyed, warm bear hugs.”
Rob had a profound impact on RHP, leaving a legacy of music, social justice, and forever friends; he is deeply missed. We love you, Rob.
- Written by Linda Rodgers