Here we are right in the middle of summer. We really do have the most glorious weather ever. Some of you are still planning your vacation. Some of us have already had ours. Planning is a huge part of the fun! Strangely, we look forward to summer as the time to “get away,” even though that is really only influenced by school days and summer break. As adults, we can vacate pretty much year round. But summer vacation just conjures up a myriad of memories and future hopes and dreams.
As part of our vacation dreaming, we make lists of places we might like to go—looking at brochures, web sites, talking to friends about where they have been. Let’s dream together of exotic, enticing locales: Foreign Countries. The Beach. The Mountains. Camping. Glamping. Disneyland. Focus on the Family World Headquarters.
What? That’s not on your list? Well, it’s on mine. OK, that may be a bit of a stretch, but it actually happened a few weeks ago! Seriously, what could Paris, Maui or Puerto Vallarta have on Colorado Springs, home and bedrock of the ultra-conservative clan (and I do mean clan)?
If you don’t know Focus on the Family, they are just precious. FOTF promotes abstinence-only sex education, creationism, school prayer, and traditional gender roles. They oppose abortion, divorce, gambling, LGBT rights—including marriage and adoption, pornography, and pre-marital sex.
Bottom line—they are just a fun bunch. Who wouldn’t want to spend summer vacation with these folks?
OK, back to us. About 250 SFGMC singers chose to spend their summer vacation in Denver for the GALA Choruses Festival. GALA is an event that happens every four years, bringing together over 160 LGBTQ choruses from around the world. There were almost 7,000 singers and over 200 concerts across the five-day festival!
I think we represented San Francisco well. Very well. Back in 1978, SFGMC became the first chorus to openly identify as gay, and as such is known as the “granddaddy” of the now global LGBT choral movement. So, “Granddaddy” holds a huge place in the hearts of GALA Chorus members worldwide. Our position in the movement carries with it lots of responsibility and very high expectations.
When the Festival ended, SFGMC stayed over a couple of days for a summer vacation extension tour to do what we have done for the past 38 years:
Briefly, here are the three highlights of our summer vacation extension! No beaches were harmed.
First, we became the first gay chorus to perform at the absolutely breathtaking United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, joined by the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus and Out Loud: The Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus. Considering the troubled path our community has trod with both religion and the military, it was a very moving experience.
Second, the three choruses gave a benefit concert at the First Methodist Church of Colorado Springs. 100% of the money raised was divided between a 25-year-old social services provider, the Citizens Project, and the Orlando Victims Fund.
Finally, our stealth appearance at the Focus on the Family World Headquarters capped it all off. We knew we would not exactly be welcome, so we pulled up, the guys literally poured out of our three buses and ran to the huge sign welcoming the world to the wonders of FOTF. We surrounded the sign and sang a brief excerpt from Avenue Q’s “If You Were Gay.” We ended with a verbal message from us to FOTF: “Love is stronger than hate,” and then sealed it with a kiss—kissing each other, of course.
As they say, it was delicious! And for this recovering Southern Baptist, “Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.”
So, did we get to the beach? Did we get to glamp? No, we didn’t. We did get to make a difference, though. And will this go down as one of the best summer vacations ever? You bet it will.
Next time, go with us!
Dr. Tim Seelig is the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.