The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles is on a mission to end bullying and homophobia through music. Every year over 85% of LGBT students in American schools are physically or verbally abused. Through its Alive Music Project, members of the Gay Men’s Chorus travel to schools to teach children about equality and acceptance through the unifying power of music.
Lee Stickler, the Gay Men’s Chorus’s youth outreach coordinator, said gay students who lobby their schools to bring in the chorus are the ones who receive the greatest benefit from the program.
“It is quite empowering for LGBTQ kids to have a captive audience of their peers as they welcome GMCLA at the start of a presentation,” he said. “All the students are surprised and relieved to see so many different faces, young and old, talking about their jobs, coming out, or their passion for music, and sharing personal stories without shame or apologies.”
The Gay Men’s Chorus also helps young people attend their concerts, which range from a classical repertoire to flashy Broadway numbers.
“Many students who attend our full concert performances, free of charge, have never been inside a professional theatre or concert hall and are excited to pose for pictures with our members and post about it on their blogs or profiles,” Stickler said.
But of course, the Alive Music Project has a deep impact on members, many heading back to high school for the first time since coming out or moving on in life.
“For many of our singers, going ‘back to high school’ as an out and proud gay man allows them to rewrite their own history,” Stickler said, “as many of us struggled silently as younger people, when we questioned not only our sexuality, but our safety and even our sanity.”
To learn more, watch the Alive Music Project video.