Scroll To Top

Gay men's chorus
debuts in conservative Colorado Springs

Gay men's chorus
debuts in conservative Colorado Springs


In the city known as home to some of the nation's most antigay churches and far right religious groups, the Out Loud gay men's chorus is marking a cultural shift.

Standing before 22 men, choir director Charles Kurchinski raises his hands, and the music flows. "Kiss today goodbye, the sweetness and the sorrow." Brandon Payne's deep, smooth solo begins a song from A Chorus Line. Other voices soon join in.

Twenty years ago--some say even very recently--most gay men would have been uncomfortable singing show tunes in public in Colorado Springs, Colo. On Saturday the first gay men's choir in city history will debut as Out Loud, the Colorado Springs Men's Chorus.

The new choir is evidence that Colorado Springs's reputation as a place where gays are unwelcome is outdated, members said. The reputation dates at least to 1992, when state voters approved a constitutional amendment written by a Colorado Springs group that banned antidiscrimination laws covering gays. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the amendment in 1996. The city also is home to a number of notoriously antigay megachurches and the headquarters of Focus on the Family, run by leading antigay Christian crusader James Dobson.

"People have been very closeted in the past," said Guy McPherson, a member of Out Loud and president of the group's board of directors. "This is really a step forward to say people are feeling more comfortable with being out in the Colorado Springs community."

That comfort level was evident at a recent rehearsal, as choir members tossed in jokes about sex and gender roles between Broadway songs. Kurchinski reacted to Payne's Sinatra-like solo by joking, "You sound so butch," and chuckles rippled through the group.

Choir members knew that singing Broadway songs might prompt a few groans. Gay men as the queens of musical theater is one of the most enduring stereotypes of gay culture. Out Loud members figured that shouldn't stop them, Kurchinski said. "I think for me it's more about the music and less about sexuality," he said. "It does perpetuate the stereotype, but it's also a lot of fun."

Out Loud members also aim to strengthen a sense of community among gay people in Colorado Springs and demonstrate to outsiders that gay culture is more than dance clubs and drag queens. Such choirs are cultural fixtures in large cities such as Philadelphia and Atlanta. The Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses tracks more than 200 groups and 10,000 singers on three continents.

The Colorado Springs chorus became a member of the association this month. Many members see a role model in the Denver Gay Men's Chorus, founded in 1982, which performs at some of the city's top concert venues.

The Denver chorus has opened its music library to Colorado Springs and offered technical support on getting the new chorus going. "We help people change their minds," said Will Adams, a member of the Denver Gay Men's Chorus who joined Out Loud. "If we can reach out to one audience member and change a perception about what it's like to be GLBT and raise acceptance, then we really have succeeded in our mission. If there's a community in Colorado that needs that the most, it's Colorado Springs," Adams said.

Out Loud is the latest local group that caters to gays and lesbians, although few specifically exclude straight people. This is the third year, for example, for the Colorado Springs Gay Prom, an event for young people and others who want to relive a prom experience. The Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian Community Center sponsors more than a dozen clubs with specialized interests from mental illness to hiking. Although Out Loud members said they would welcome heterosexual singers, the group exists to give voice to a way of life that isn't always embraced.

Few traditional men's choirs would feature a trio singing "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair," a selection from the Out Loud program. One of the singers on that number, Jim Doolittle, said Out Loud is balancing a desire for sexual orientation to be irrelevant with wanting to help build community among gay people. "We have to live in the straight world every day, and so if we could be in a choir where we could sing all sorts of things like that, then that would be OK," he said.

The final song in the Out Loud program moves away from the upbeat numbers and double entendres of other selections. It's not even a Broadway tune. "Our signature, it's not publicized in our program, but kind of our standing-ovation song is actually a song called 'Irish Blessing,'" Doolittle said. "I think with our voices we are actually looking to bless people's lives." (AP)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff