It’s 2012 and some may ask — is having a “gay” men’s chorus really relevant?
Yes. It most definitely is.
Even though “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed, marriage equality laws are on the books in several states, and straights and gays alike tune in to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race — the battle has only begun.
In October 1998, Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming. His death brought attention to the issue of hate crimes. His parents Judy and Dennis co-founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation to help erase what they consider to be hate in society; to put lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth first; and to ensure equality for all LGBT Americans.
A lot of progress has been made since 1998, but there is obviously still work to be done.
Recently, Sean Harris, a Baptist preacher in Fayetteville, North Carolina, advocated — among other things — physically assaulting toddlers with “limp wrists.”
Just when we think progress has been made, someone claiming to be a man of God urges his followers that it is OK to use physical violence to cure their children’s homosexual tendencies.
More recently during an AGMC rehearsal, Artistic Director Kevin Robison read a letter to us from Judy Shepard. She wrote this letter to the chorus because in our summer concert, Red, White & YOU, we will be performing the beautiful song “What Matters,” written for her by Randi Driscoll. In her letter, Judy said that “the song is just one example of how an individual can make a difference” and that “Hate is a learned behavior, and we can unlearn that behavior. We can live our lives in love, if we make that choice.”
As long as there are people like Sean Harris — people who use hate to justify physical violence against LGBT youth — we still have a long way to go.
I can’t wait to perform “What Matters” in Red, White & YOU in three performances on Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16, at Emory University’s Glenn Memorial Auditorium, and again at the closing concert of GALA Festival 2012 in Denver on July 11. Because, as Judy Shepard says…I can make a difference.
Photo courtesy of ProjectQAtlanta.com
Editor’s note: We ask AGMC members to share with us why they sing and serve…what makes the mission of the chorus pertinent and meaningful to them, and to their community. Van Sewell is a flight attendant with AirTran Airways, soon to be Southwest Airlines, and has been a singing member of the AGMC since 1997.