I’ve mentioned before that I sing with a gay men’s chorus in New York called the Gay Gotham Chorus, as does Matt. A few weeks ago, our conductor was asked whether anyone in our group would like to sing Beethoven’s Mass in C at Carnegie Hall this Tuesday night. The chorale would consist mainly of a few college and high school choruses visiting New York from such places as Arkansas, South Carolina, and Alabama. See, there’s this organization that arranges for choruses to come to New York and sing at Carnegie Hall, the choruses pay the organization to arrange the concert and handle all the details.
Matt and I had never sung at Carnegie Hall before, so we both volunteered to do it. Today we had our first rehearsal, four hours long, and tomorrow we have another one, and then Tuesday night is the concert.
Now it turns out that the concert manager for the organization running the event was my men’s glee club conductor back in college. I didn’t come out until after college, so he never knew I was gay. But now he’d obviously know, since my current conductor gave him the list of people from our chorus who’d be singing. I was glad that he’d finally know that I’m gay. He’s not gay himself, but he was something of a mentor to me back in college, so I’ve wanted him to know this important thing about me.
I called him yesterday to briefly say hi. Then today, when Matt and I and the two other volunteers from our chorus showed up at the rehearsal, he came over to me and gave me a big hug. He couldn’t care in the slightest that I’m gay, of course. After he said hi, he went back to take care of managerial duties.
About 15 minutes later, while people were still arriving, he came back over and said there was a little problem and asked if he could talk to me. So I went over to talk to him and another of the organizers.
It turned out that one of the participating choruses – the centerpiece of the program, in fact – was this women’s choir from a conservative Baptist college in Alabama. Because of this, my former conductor and the other organizer were nervous about introducing us four guys as “members of the Gay Gotham Chorus.” So he asked if it was okay to introduce us as members of the “Gotham Chorus” instead, and they both apologized profusely. I said sure, no problem. It really made no difference to me.
Afterwards, of course, I fantasized about making a big symbolic statement out of our presence. Perhaps we could refer to ourselves as members of the Gotham Sodomite Chorus.
I mean, sure, this conservative southern Baptist college women’s choir paid to come to New York and sing at Carnegie Hall. God forbid they might have to sing with four ringers from a self-identified gay men’s chorus in their midst. Avowed homosexual singers!
Of course, maybe they wouldn’t have cared. The concern was raised by my former conductor and the other organizer, not the women themselves, who remained innocently unaware of the homos in their presence.
It’s ironic that these women would come to New York only to be shielded from the gays. I mean, it’s our fucking city, and we exist, dammit. They should have to deal with it.
But this is a company that makes its money by bringing choirs to New York. There are sensitive political matters and such.
So we can sing loud – as long as we keep our mouths shut.