By Our Musical Director Loz Kaye
The horrific attack in Orlando made the blood run cold. The murder of so many people out to enjoy a Latin night in an LGBT bar was truly devastating. Our hearts go out to everyone affected, to those who are injured and are recovering, and to the loved ones left behind.
What was clear, because of how the venue was targeted, that this was an attack on our community. It was an attack on LGBTQ people, whatever some in thse media tried to say. We felt vulnerable as it brought up thoughts that it could have so easily been one of the spaces we use. It awoke memories of the kind of violence and prejudice all too many of us have faced. It reminded us that there are still those who would wipe us out simply for being who are.
An attack on our community needed a community response. And I am so proud that the LGBT choir movement has been central to that response. People had to come together for comfort, support, to be angry and show defiance. Choirs were ready at vigils in many cities to give voice to those feelings. Online, video messages of support in song for Orlando showed solidarity in a way that people could share in.
Across the world many LGBT people meet together to sing. It’s fun. It’s a good hobby. It’s a great way of meeting others that you would never normally meet. But as a Musical Director I can truly say that we bring our own experience, our own sensibility to song in a way that is deeply powerful. Just listen to Orlando Gay Chorus performing ‘True Colors’, you’ll hear what I mean. A tune that’s so familiar performed in a way that’s fresh with our strength, our demanding to be heard.
Our choirs were able to act as focal points for what people needed at a difficult time.
Here in Manchester, MLGC members felt very strongly that we had to act to be the support people needed. In what was a matter of hours we connected up with many partners like actor Julie Hesmondhalgh, Canal Street businesses, the council and political figures like the Lord Mayor. The Monday night vigil for Orlando was an extraordinary event, with a hand holding round the Manchester Gay Village, and commemorations in a packed Sackville Park.
I know it meant a lot to members to be able to sing ‘Something Inside So Strong’ and ‘All You Need Is Love’. And for those present to hear it. Choral singing goes very deep. It connects to shared sorrows and shared joys. The pure power of many voices as one speaks of community.
As choirs we can’t solve all the ills of the world, or give easy answers to difficult questions.
But we can be a voice when people need it most. Thank you to all of you raising up that voice.