Humans of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus
In the tradition of the popular Humans of New York and Humans of Minneapolis series, we are pleased to present Humans of Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus.
Humans of Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus is a project managed by the Chorus’s Marketing Committee of the Board of Directors, a group of board members and volunteer singers who have embraced this project as a way to share the stories of our singers, and, as a result, inform you about this internal community.
The purpose of Humans of Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus is to highlight the talents, strengths and experiences of our members in greater depth. In sharing these stories, we develop empathy and compassion towards our peers, and we demonstrate to the world the community we have created through music.
Humans of Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus is moderated by our singer, Josh Elmore.
Stories will be updated periodically. Please check back often!
Glenn Olson: For our premier post, Josh Elmore spoke with Glenn Olson, who has sung with the Chorus since its second year. Glenn’s reflections on the history of the Chorus, along with the personal meeting he found through our Chorus family, is moving.
Ben Pollack: For our second post, Josh spoke with Ben Pollack, whose spiritual life has been influenced by both Judaism and Hinduism. As our concert weekend for “A Million Reasons to Believe” commences, we encourage you to read Ben’s wise words. As he says, there is something for everyone in this season’s holiday concert, and we encourage you to seek meaning for yourselves through our mixture of musical stories.
David Anderson: For our next installment, Josh had the pleasure of interviewing David Anderson, a former Christian pastor who was pressured out of the church and abandoned by his congregation when he came out to them in the 70’s. His story is one of forgiveness and acceptance, as he struggles to find himself in the Christian community. He’s learned many lessons; above all, “[Don’t] let anybody take your faith from you. That’s yours. It’s not given to you from the outside.”
David Coleman: For our next installment, Josh interviewed our singer David Coleman. David has been on the front lines for change. After being expelled from college in 2005, he began a thrilling career of activism that’s taken him across the country. If you want to know more about the man who was ordered to be arrested by both Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, please proceed!
Levi Seefeldt: For our next installment, Josh interviewed Levi Seefeldt. “I think bisexuality is tough because people from both communities see the negative. Straight people see me – as a cisgender male – see that I like men, and so I’m not straight enough for them. Gay men see that you also like women, so you’re not gay enough. It becomes this game of proving your sexuality to everyone.”
Nathan Bambenek: For our next installment, Josh interviewed Nathan Bambanek, who talks about his work in higher education. “I found that I liked advising – which falls under student affairs – because it’s a mix of teaching, mental counseling, and leadership development. It’s how I got to my master’s program. Leadership to me is not “I’m going to follow someone; I’m going to obey them.” Leadership, historically, has had dominant, masculine qualities –a dominant/submissive relationship where one person is above the other. My view, in the more up-to-date model, is mentoring.”
Brian O’Dowd: For our next installment, Josh interviewed Brian O’Dowd, a fellow southerner from Mississippi. “I remember my first feelings of being attracted to a guy was when I was six. CMT [Country Music Television] was on, and my mom had gone to work. I was in the living room watching it and there was a Clint Black video on. I said to my sister, “He’s cute,” and my sister said, ‘We don’t say that about other boys.'”
Hugh Smeltekop: This week, Josh spoke with Hugh Smeltekop, who has spent the majority of his life working with a small college in Bolivia, which empowers its students to pursue careers in public health, agricultural development, education and ecotourism. He was Director of that college, and now serves as the Executive Director of a nonprofit that supports the same work. He also spent two years in Benin, West Africa as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer.
Mark Storck: “These are all kids…” In this week’s installment, Josh spoke with Mark Storck, who has over 25 years of experience, and currently teaches highly- and exceptionally-gifted elementary school students.
Brandon Sieck: Josh talks with Brandon Sieck, who works with the Minnesota Opera. “Anyone who works backstage in the theater –stage ops, LX and sound, prop artisans –everyone who works in production is an unsung hero; the most important aspect of our job is that the audience never knows we are there.”
Heinrich Remmel: Josh spoke with Heinrich, who reminded Josh that everything someone shares with an open heart represents their authentic self, long or short. Therefore, this week’s post will take a different format, which best reflects Heinrich’s personality – a minimalist who believes in expressing himself with simplicity.
Tyler Stahl: “Sometimes people are forced to do [volunteer work] because of work, but for me it’s very different. I feel like it’s my job and duty in life to give back – because I have privilege.” This week we meet Tyler Stahl, who talks about how volunteer work has given him a new perspective.
Gino Fraboni: Let’s meet Gino, one of our singers who joined us this season! “I just think of how fortunate I am to have a mom and three dads… My family life shifted a lot when I was in 9th grade and my father came out to the family, and that he and my mom were getting divorced. The most significant part about the situation is that my parents’ primary goal was to keep the family together. They told me that “This doesn’t change who we are – just how we look.” Love was always at the center.”
Kent Pitman: Let’s meet Kent and his story of inspiration! “It’s worth it. Do I still struggle with the fact that I feel like a fat guy? YES! But I have no regrets about doing what I did. I changed my body and I changed my life. At 45, I am healthier I than I’ve ever been in my entire life.”
Matt Hudson: This week, Josh talks with Matt Hudson, one of our singers who plays an active role in our local drag community. “One of my philosophies is that I have to give back to the (LGBTQ) community. When there are charity shows, I try to always participate.”
Adam Moore: “I am a stylist, caregiver, therapist, and “good feeler.” Josh talks with Adam Moore, one of our singers, about being a stylist. “Whether positive – the celebrations – or the hardships and the struggles, people let you in like you’re part of their family.”
Jeff Heine: “It’s hard to separate the passion from the practicality of the job. I’ve found that decisions based on passion tend to be wrong, but decisions based solely on practicality can be very painful, even if they’re right.” For our final edition of “Humans of TCGMC” this season, Josh Elmore talks to our Executive Director, Jeff Heine, who will be leaving us this summer after 10 years to work with the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus.
Peder Hagen: After a summer hiatus, HOTCGMC returns! For the premier post of the 2019-2020 concert season, Josh spoke with Peder Hagen, a longtime chorus member with insights on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Glen Arvin: This member needs no introduction – he’ll announce himself! Please welcome this week’s Human, professional voice actor Glen Arvin.
David Fey: As an architect, community organizer, nonprofit leader, and former Deputy Mayor of Minneapolis, he has brought his passion for social justice to a wide variety of settings and roles. Please welcome this week’s HOTCGMC guest, David Fey!
Shawn Hjelmeland: After a decade on the hockey rink, a near-decade at Disney, and less than two years living as his authentic self, Shawn Hjelmeland reminds us that while life may not be a fairytale, we can always find the magic if we look hard enough.
Mark Carlson: I constantly have to ask myself, “How do I work with others, and with organizations, and still take care of myself?” That’s the point of all of this: to be my best self, and to bring my best self to my friends and family, the chorus, and to my community.
Daniel Hodges: This week, Josh interviewed Daniel Hodges, who has over 12 years’ experience as a high school speech and debate coach.
Nathan Porras: In one of the most vulnerable interviews ever conducted for Humans, Nathan Porras shares how his personal journey with depression has shaped his work as an educator and psychiatric nurse at a drug rehabilitation center.
Bret Pearson: This week, Josh had an encounter with a fellow story-seeker. For a decade, Bret Pearson and his partner have worked with local historical societies to create fact-based museum exhibits.
Chris Unger: The perfect representation of the phrase “Never judge a book by its cover,” Chris Unger reveals a passion unbeknownst to the crowds who cheer for his solo performances at TCGMC concerts.
Rob DeBois: A high school English teacher and MFA candidate, Rob DuBois provides his valuable insight on teaching the next generation in the face of shifting cultural and technological norms.
Alex Asp: To many in this community, Alex Asp may be known as the Commissioner of the Stonewall Sports – Minneapolis Dodgeball league, but to those in the emergency room, he is simply known as “Doctor.”
Justin Rudnick: Today’s guest lecture, titled “Performance and Identity,” is presented by Professor Justin Rudnick, AKA “Dr. J” from Minnesota State University Mankato.
Xim Pelletier: Xim Pelletier, who is discovering their gender identity on a daily basis, reminds us that it’s okay not to have all the answers.
Brent Morris: Brent Morris is a kindhearted, paternal man who just happens to be in a daily battle against drug addiction and HIV stigma.
Bret Bannon: Accompanied by the smell of fresh quiche and spilled coffee, Bret Bannon recounts a culinary career that satisfies both our gustatory and inquisitive appetites.
Tyler Stanchfield: Just as fabulous and extravagant as his annual Oscars party, Tyler Stanchfield shows that overcoming a disability is only one source of his star power.
Jeff Sibert: An endurance cyclist, radio station owner, and electrical engineer, Jeff Sibert is an independent man who lives life on his own frequency.
HIV Dialogue – Origins: Humans of Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus is honored to present the first of a three-part dialogue with four HIV+ chorus members. In this installment, they discuss their diagnoses, their reactions to their diagnoses, and the external and internal stigma they began to face.
HIV Dialogue – Experience: In the second installment of HOTGMC’s group conversation on HIV, our members discuss their experience living with the disease as it pertains to sexual ethics and medical treatment in the modern day.
HIV Dialogue – Response: As we all seek to protect ourselves from the pandemic, it is important to remember the most vulnerable amongst us – children, senior citizens, and the immunocompromised. Now more than ever, we must recognize the importance of educating ourselves about those with HIV/AIDS. In this final installment of our dialogue with four HIV-positive members of TCGMC, our friends describe the nuanced role they play in the fight against HIV stigma.