SF Gay Men’s Chorus Announces Tour Through Conservative California Central Valley

(SAN FRANCISCO)  The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has announced plans to take its music to some of California’s more conservative cities.San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus

“We were actually thinking about going on a tour to Europe,” said Chorus conductor Dr. Kathleen McGuire, “and someone said we need to eat our vegetables before we have our dessert, we really need to work on what needs to be done here in the United States before we go galavanting off to Europe.”

January destinations include cities that do not include much of a gay community.  Michael Tate is a second tenor singer in the SF Gay Men’s Chorus and the president of the board.  He said their tour through cities including Chico, Redding, Tracy, Fresno and Bakersfield is part of the chorus’ ambassadorial mission.

“With so much going on with politics and same-sex marriage I think that we just wanted to be another voice for equality and pride,”Tate said during pre-show rehearsals, “not taking a political stand but just letting people know there are people here making a difference throughout California.”

Tate said the tradition of the Gay Men’s Chorus allows different communities to see a strong image of the LGBT community.

“There are people in the chorus who have been parents, grandparents, bankers, lawyers, so we cover the gambit,” Tate said, “I think just us appearing at different venues and being the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and having that in our name is very significant.  We come in our tuxedos, our sweatshirts, we’re proud, our heads aren’t hung down, and I think it makes a big impact just that we’re there and happy to be there.”

During the holiday season, the SF Gay Men’s Chorus played to sold out crowds.  Many of the shows regularly include a diverse audience.  In the city, the SF Gay Men’s Chorus has become an institution.

The new tour will mark the 32nd year of the chorus’ existence.  It is the first gay identified chorus in the world, and remains one of the biggest with almost 250 singers.

The chorus’s history has seen it through some of the LGBT community’s darkest moments.

Within weeks of their first rehearsal in 1978, the chorus was called on for one of their most powerful performances ever.  They sang for a shaken group of mourners in front of San Francisco City Hall following the murders of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Through the 80’s, the chorus toured the United States.  In their wake several other Gay Men’s Chorus’ were established.

While not on tour the chorus also helped San Francisco survive through the AIDS epidemic with countless performances at memorials and fund raisers.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a holiday program called, “Home For The Holidays.”  According to Dr. McGruire the program is integral to the LGBT communities celebrations of the season.

“Being able to perform these concerts for the holiday season really means a lot for our members and for the community,” Dr. McGuire said, “because it’s a time when a lot of people are reminded that they’re not welcomed with their families.”

The 2010 tour through California’s Central Valley will pull the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus out of what’s sometimes called the Bay Area Bubble.  Their tour will take them through cities that have a tiny, or very closed gay community.  And just like every other performance, the leaders of the chorus say they plan to put on a great show for anyone who loves good music.

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