“Dear Friend, I am thrilled to tell you that I am now singing with the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus (TCGMC)…
“What’s that, you ask? Yes, it’s true…. I sing AND I’m gay. Before I get ahead of myself, I should tell you why I joined TCGMC.
“On the day of my audition, I knew that my aspiration in joining the chorus was to both survive and overcome the personal insecurities and confidence issues of my past while embracing my newly acknowledged sexual orientation. Personal insecurities started early. I will never forget the day, in 4th grade, when I excitedly decided to join the chorus. Unfortunately, one of my authority figures at the time shot me down with a response that was both immediate and unequivocal, “but you’re tone deaf.” When I asked what that meant, I was told, “it means you can’t sing.” While this comment was later rescinded with genuine and heartfelt regret, the nail had been hammered into the coffin.
“Despite playing the flute for 16 years prior to my audition date, I still carried the burden of my own insecurities. To pull a page out of Stephen Schwartz’ Wicked, joining TCGMC was my way of deciding “I’m through accepting limits, cause someone says they’re so.” The first few rehearsals were emotional, and I got choked up many times as I tried to fully appreciate the process of overcoming my own personal boundaries.
“From the sexual orientation standpoint, I was certainly not comfortable with being gay as I entered the chorus. I still associated being gay with a lack of masculinity and a second-class value as a human being. Needless to say, I was a bit uncomfortable when my attempts to engaged in the standard “straight-guy” handshake and fist pump were greeted with confusion, and a “HEYYYYYYYYY GURRRRL, you know we hug here, right??”
“Over the first two CPPs (Dr. Stan Hill’s final two CPPs), I finally learned to relax and let my hair down (as it were). Being around so many like-minded gay men, with the confidence to live authentically, demonstrated to me that being gay was not something that should be managed, but rather, a self-discovery process that was to be embraced. Slowly, but surely, I began to let down my guard and live authentically. As an added perk, this self-acceptance process also included being able to listen to Britney Spears albums without shame .
“Singing with the chorus energized me over time to have the confidence to come out to those close to me. The ultimate turning point came at Gala 2012 in Denver. The performances connected with me in an organic way and made me feel understood in a way that I have never felt before. I clearly remember sitting at the closing ceremonies of the Gala Festival, and the entire audience was asked to sing “Born This Way,” for a video recording.
“As I sat in a room of over 1000 people singing together, “I’m beautiful in my way, cause God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track baby, I was born this way,” I couldn’t help but get choked up. It was at that moment that I decided once and for all that I would not hide myself from others any longer, because I had NOTHING to be ashamed of. I came out to my co-workers the week I returned to work.
“My interactions with TCGMC have served as a safe haven from the discrimination that we continue to face as the homosexual community, as well as a catalyst for much needed change. Given the benefits of my tenure with TCGMC, which began in January 2012, it has been only natural to pay-it-forward, and support the organization.
“It has been an honor and privilege to stand by this group of men in our many outreach performances to campaign against the marriage amendment. As Minnesota made history and turned the tables for the first time in US history, it was a tremendously fulfilling experience to share in this victory with the brotherhood and community of TCGMC.
“In any event, I hope you will share in the experience that is the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus by joining us at an upcoming concert this year! I look forward to sharing more my chorus experience with you in-person.
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