Hello and greetings to all of my faithful readers,
I hope you are all doing well and starting to get out and enjoy some Pride activities this month. I know some of you went to Oracle Park last Friday night to watch “In the Heights” as part of SF Pride in conjunction with the SF Giants. I have been watching various virtual Pride concerts of our sibling GALA Choruses. You can see what is upcoming and ongoing on the GALA Choruses website. This week I want to share some of my memories of my first Pride concert as an audience member. I have included five photos, one of the 1980 Gay Musical Celebration program which was the first one for LGCSF or as we were known then the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men’s Community Chorus. This concert was held at Grace Cathedral on June 27, 1980. The first Gay Musical Celebration was also held at Grace Cathedral 22, 1979 and featured the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and the San Francisco Gay Freedom Marching Band and the Great Organ of Grace Cathedral. The fact that these gay musical organizations enjoyed the privilege of performing in Grace Cathedral was a very great accomplishment for all of us.
The first time I saw the big three San Francisco musical organizations, SFGMC, LGCSF and the Gay Freedom Band perform was at the Gay Musical Celebration in June 1984. The title of that concert was Back in Grace and it was an eye opener for me to see and hear the talent of our community sing and play their hearts out for all of us in that audience. I had seen the Freedom Band marching in the Gay Pride parades a couple of previous years but to hear them in concert was a whole different thing. In the mid to late 1970s I would march with the contingent of people from Metropolitan Community Church when I was a member of the choir there. At the end of the performance of LGCSF, their director, Matt O’Grady, announced that auditions for the chorus would be held in August and anyone would be welcome to come and join the chorus. My partner at that time said why don’t you go do this since you love to sing and I did and here I am today writing about my memories and sharing them with all of you.
From those auspicious beginnings of the Gay Musical Celebrations taking place in Grace Cathedral and on through the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s the Pride Concerts have evolved into a showcase for all of the various choruses from the Greater Bay Area to perform for our San Francisco audiences. All of this collaboration has led to many great friendships and memories for all the singers who participated in these concerts. They were put together and produced by many volunteers throughout the years, including me, and working with the various persons who were part of that process made me feel proud of what I was doing to help make these concerts run as smoothly as possible. These Pride concerts took place in many various venues throughout San Francisco, including many churches, high school auditoriums, Civic Auditorium, Herbst Theatre, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Performing Arts.
One thing I would like to say about our audiences - we always had very enthusiastic ones and they came from all over the Bay Area as well as many visitors from all over the U.S. and other countries who were here to take part in the whole San Francisco Gay Pride experience. To me this was and is the best example that music is the universal language, that it can break down barriers and really bring people together for a once in a lifetime experience. So to all of you at this time in June 2021 I want to wish all of you a happy and safe Pride month and get out and support these pioneering musical organizations, SFGMC, LGCSF and the Gay Freedom Band and go hear them in person when they are able to perform safely for you.
I am including five photos for you to enjoy. The one with the pink triangle with S.F. Pride was on a T-shirt that the chorus wore in a Pride concert. I also have photos of Pride T-shirts from 2003 - Harvey Milk “You gotta give them hope” - and the front and back of the T-shirt from 2009 with pink and purple stars on the front and the logo for that year on the back - “To Form a More Perfect Union.” The fifth one is of the cover from the 1980 Gay Musical Celebration in which LGCSF performed in their first Pride concert.
Sending all my love and harmony to you, Michael Lucero
Greetings to all of my faithful readers,
I hope you are all well and maybe taking baby steps out into the world and starting to spend time in person with family and/or friends. I want to share what makes me feel proud today since we are in June and it is Gay Pride month and I thought I would share some of my memories and photos of chorus from different eras. As I was going through items from 1994 I came across a roster and as I read through each of the 100 names I could picture each of them. There were singers of course as well as staff and volunteers listed. Reading some of the names I felt sadness at reading the names of persons who left us too soon and one thing I do when we sing and go onstage is to carry the memories of these beautiful people with me and to honor them. I think that this might have been one the last paper rosters that was printed and handed out. The Leadsheet has always been around weekly, either in print or online, to keep the chorus up to date on what is happening. I do miss the ones that were in print because they always had wonderful graphics and they changed depending on who the editor was. There are two names on this roster who are still singing with us, Yolanda DeByle and Jesse Lanou so there is continuity within the chorus.
Since the time I joined the chorus in fall of 1984 I have sung and shared the stages, rehearsal halls, retreat spaces, cabarets, fundraisers, award shows, GALA Festivals, dinners for people with AIDS, memorial services, birthdays and other joyous celebrations with many hundreds of wonderful, beautiful, and extremely talented chorus members, artistic directors, accompanists and musicians. I have spent time in production meetings, building and painting sets, decorating sterile churches, artistic advisory meetings, membership meetings, and participated in many chorus board elections. The point I am trying to make is that I would not change anything I have done that is related to the chorus and trying my best to make it the best that it can be.
Another thing I came across in the 1994 folder is a certificate that the chorus received from the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park in August 1994 for our significant contribution we made to the creation and perpetual maintenance of the Grove. We also planted a tree in the Grove in memory of Don Killam who sang in the bass section and is now one of our Angels. I also danced with him onstage as the tenors and basses sang “Hermando’s Hideaway.”
Another thing that I am proud of is all of the wonderful music that the chorus has presented to our audiences, especially the music composed by living LGBTQ composers. This has always been the mission of the artistic directors of our chorus throughout the years. It has been an honor for me to rehearse, learn and perform the music that tells our story for our audiences.
The photos I have included is one from a retreat with Pat Parr, one of Dale, Lisa Vogt and Noam Szoke at GALA 2008 in Miami, one of a chorus birthday with Pat and our first AD, Robin Kay, in the back center and one of Deb Cohler arriving at GALA 2004 in Montreal. I have participated in seven GALA Festivals and they each have been different and it has always been exciting for me to see new choruses performing at Festival for the first time, especially the women’s, mixed and youth choruses who always bring tears to the eyes and a feeling of joy in our hearts to us seasoned singers. I will be back next week with more photos and memories of Pride concerts through the years. Take care of yourselves and hug your loved ones.
In love and harmony, Michael Lucero