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Colorado sings!

Colorado sings!

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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.

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."

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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