Colorado sings!

When this gay man decided to make pride visible in Colorado Springs, his notoriously conservative hometown, he enlisted 20 fellow singers. The result? At least 900 supporters…and front-page news.

BY Guy McPherson

May 21 2006 11:00 PM ET

I’ve lived
in Colorado Springs, Colo., for 27 of my 39 years. The
antigay Amendment 2 was initiated in this city, and as
the home base of the notoriously homophobic U.S. Air
Force Academy, Focus on the Family, and dozens of
right-wing religious organizations, Colorado Springs has a
reputation throughout the country as “the city of
hate.” When I tell New Yorkers that I’m
from Colorado Springs, their first words are usually,
“I’m sorry; that must be a terrible place to
be a gay person.”

Colorado Springs
is a great city, but the gay community is unorganized
and remains virtually invisible: We have few gay bars, no
gay neighborhood, and the only big event is the
half-mile trek down Tejon Street during gay pride.

In October 2005,
I joined eight other men from the city’s First
Congregational Church to form a gay men’s choir. The
congregation was so enthusiastic about our first
performance that I decided to create Out Loud, the
city’s first community-based gay men’s chorus.
We started in January, grew from nine to 21 members,
brought in a very talented artistic director, Charles
Kurchinski, and decided to hold our first concert,
“A Night on Broadway,” on April 22. We were
all excited and a little nervous when our story was
printed on the front page of The Gazette the
day before the concert. For a Colorado Springs newspaper
to publish a story about a gay topic in a positive light was
a real milestone. One choir member didn’t want
his picture taken because he feared losing his job at
a conservative company. Another member was disowned by
his grandparents after they read the story.

We expected 200
to 300 people, but on the night of the concert our
estimate swelled to 900. Crammed into the aisles, on the
floor, in the balcony, and outside, people started
chanting, “Be proud, Out Loud,” as we
entered the stage. When the organist hit the first chord in
our Phantom of the Opera medley, it was like a
lightning strike. In that moment the choir and the
crowd were one, and all night long it was as if we
were being held up by their love and support.

Not one protester
showed up. And for the first time it felt like everyone
could gather together and say, “We support gay
people.”

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