We are not just a group of men that formed a club and like to sing. As gay and gay-supportive people, we sing to change lives, build relationships, and create a just world. Each of our members has a story to tell about how the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus has made a positive impact in the world, and this season we are documenting these stories to share with you next year in our 20th anniversary season.
I have seen lives changed in a number of ways during my eight years with the chorus, but the first time I witnessed it was in a member of my own family.
My mother and I had spoken about my being gay while I was still in college. I had taken a weekend trip to New York City, and in my absence a magazine about monogamous gay relationships had arrived, its outer wrapping mangled by the delicate hands and machines of the United States Postal Service. She and I had a quite a few conversations about my realization and my life as a young gay man. She suggested, and I agreed, not to tell my father about my sexual orientation.
A few years later, fresh out of college, and having sung in a chorus almost every year since I was in Kindergarten, I was excited to continue developing my love for choral music by joining the Cincinnati Men’s Chorus. I also hoped to develop friendships with other gay men, having had little opportunity with an extremely busy schedule in college. When I joined the chorus, I knew nothing about the life-changing impact the chorus had, or how it would affect me.
We performed a concert called “Mothers & Sons” that first season, and my mother decided she wanted to attend and take my father with her. I made sure she realized that with our chorus’ identity and repertoire, my dad would figure out what was going on, and she said she understood and would talk to him. Imagine my relief at her volunteering to break the news to him!
Apparently, she didn’t. They both attended, and I met them in the lobby after the performance. My father gave me a big hug, and we are not a hugging family, so I knew something was up. “Bless her heart,” as they say in the south, she decided to let him find out on his own while watching me on stage. I can’t say that was the best judgment in the world, but the good news is, he was much more supportive than I had expected, and today he remains one of my biggest fans.