During 2017, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus brought messages of acceptance, joy, and bravery to the American South, in parts of the country that have held onto laws that allow discrimination against LGBTQ Americans longer than most. The 300-person group counts among its members many people of faith, who felt it was important to connect with religious populations in the South through the choral tradition.
"You can't have a conversation about LGBT equality and trans issues without it intersecting with faith," says Chris Verdugo, the SFGMC's Executive Director.
Among the people of faith in the chorus is its Artistic Director, Tim Seelig. Having left his Baptist church after coming out as gay, Tim returned with the SFGMC in tow during their tour of the South—31 years after he had left.
As one person who attended a choral concert in Alabama noted: "In the South... this sort of thing can instill hope in people who do not have that."
The SFGMC made a point to honor places in the South that stand as symbols of hope for marginalized groups. In Selma, AL, the chorus made time to celebrate the civil rights revolution that is so tied to the city, singing in the Brown AME Church and marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with rainbow flags held high.
"Each of those people has experienced difficulty, in coming out, in being gay, in being bullied... every one of them wants to make a difference for someone that they meet along this journey," Tim summarized. Now that's a mission worth celebrating.