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