Sum It Up Sunday-Sing It Loud and Proud
Last night was my 6th time seeing the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC) in concert. Every time I see them I’m blown away by their talent, inclusivity and sheer joy. There are also songs that they sing that get me crying because of the sadness and hurt they convey. Their performances can take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions.
My brother Aaron Clarke, is a SFGMC member, which is what drew me to seeing them the first time. He speaks of the “family” he found when he joined in the Family Food episode of the podcast. Watching him sing out, loud and proud with his chorus brothers, over 300 strong, made me proud and happy that he had found a “home” for his talent and desire to perform.
Over 40 years ago the SFMGC started as a way for men in and around the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, who liked to sing, to a gather together and make a joyful noise. Their first few practices were just that, joyful, as they created this merry band of brothers.
Then, at their 4th rehearsal, on November 27, 1978, after having spent the day with the news of Harvey Milk and George Moscone’s assassinations, the singers showed up to rehearsal grief-stricken and in shock. Dick Kramer, the director at the time, passed out Mendelsohn’s “Thou, Lord our Refuge.” Then they all went to the San Francisco City Hall steps for a candlelight vigil. When they performed for the very first time, the men who gathered, more than 40 years ago, didn't know they were actually giving birth to a world-wide LGBT choral phenomenon that now boasts hundreds of choruses around the globe.
Singing is only a part of what the chorus does. Community outreach is a part of their mission as well. Since the AIDS epidemic began, the chorus has worked on education and support of those affected. The it gets better project works to reduce suicide among LGBTQ individuals, especially youth. RHYTHM brings the SFGMC into elementary, middle, and high schools across the Bay Area to share a message of love, inclusivity, and strength.
I personally have been invited to share a Thanksgiving meal with chorus brother’s who don’t have family who will welcome them to their table. This was a meal that the chorus members coordinate to include everyone. Something I believe in to my very core.
Spread the Word
I’ve also taken in a concert put on by the Seattle Men’s Chorus and met members of both the Buffalo and Boise Men’s Chorus’. No matter where you live, I urge you to find the nearest chorus to you. Whether you want to enjoy their performances, donate to their outreach or become a member yourself, they are singing what they preach.