Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Singing for their place at the table

From the welter of reports on the ongoing Inaugural festivities in Washington, a tiny detail mentioned by Salon's Joan Walsh that warms my heart: Among the performers at the We Are One concert at the Lincoln Memorial was the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus [UPDATE: the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC, not the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. Thank you, Mr. Gerry Umali.], singing My Country Tis of Thee, on the very same spot “where Marian Anderson sang it almost 70 years ago (after the Daughters of the American Revolution kept her out of Constitution Hall because she was black).”

Think: Would a gay men's chorus ever be allowed to sing in a Republican inaugural?

Reading this bit made me dig out my copy of a 1991 San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus CD album called How Fair This Place and savor it again.

“The singing began in November 1978,” said the liner notes, “when a small band of men gathered in an impromptu moment on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall and sang beautifully to ease the shock, grief and pain felt by the city--especially the Gay and Lesbian community--at the senseless assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. [Digression: You have to watch the Sean Penn film.] Not long after, a formal concert was presented; thus was born the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.”

Now they're in Washington, claiming their own legitimate place at the banquet table in this special, epochal moment for America--and perhaps the world. Thrilling.

Here--selections from their CD: Ennio Morricone's sublime On Earth As It Is in Heaven from The Mission soundtrack, plus medleys of songs from Miss Saigon, Chess and Jekyll & Hyde. Enjoy--and if you're a brothah/sistah, take pride.


amateur ear said...

Very touching.

How come we don't have our Gay and Lesbian Chorus yet?

Anonymous said...

The gay chorus that sang at the We Are One concert is the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC, not the one from San Francisco. Having been a part of the group I would appreciate it if you gave them due credit for it.

gibbs cadiz said...

we used to have one, AMATEUR EAR, though it didn't bill itself as a gay choir, only as an all-male choir. i remember when it had its first concert at the pcibank auditorium, with families of the choir members in attendance, no less. for most of the afternoon it sang solemn latin hymns and the like, the better to show off its choral chops. then, for its first encore, the group loosened up and sang bongga ka day. somebody in the audience then shouted, go girls! that broke the ice, and everyone had a good laugh. :)

thank you, ANONYMOUS. noted. but maybe you should also direct your comment at salon's joan walsh, from whom i got the info? also, since you put great importance on giving credit to a group that you claim (and presumably are proud) to have been a part of, perhaps you can allow us the privilege of knowing your name? thanks again. :)

Anonymous said...

Why you'd want to know the name of the messenger says something about your nature, Gibbs, but since you're interested my name is Gerry Umali. Seeing as truth is lacking in many avenues these days I am wondering why you haven't changed the information on your entry. As for Joan Walsh, I leave it up to others to fight that battle.

gibbs cadiz said...

thank you, MR. UMALI. now that you've shared with me your name, and i don't have to grapple with one more ANONYMOUS tipper, i have more motivation to fix the entry. that's been my sole concern all along. as you can see, i don't moderate the comments section of this site. at the very least, though, i ask for a bit more than anonymity when considering a request or a point raised. yes, that's my 'nature'--if you want to call it that. again, many thanks for taking the time. :)

amateur ear said...

Yes, yes, I've heard of them, I even made inquiries some years back when they were recruiting members for their ccp concert. I mean, a gay and lesbian chorus, mixed voice choir with tenors, basses, altos, and sopranos. Now, wouldn't that be grand?

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