Lovely sounding local treasure the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus was going to celebrate its 40th season by embarking on an international tour. They will not be going on that international tour. Instead, the world’s first openly gay chorus has chosen to team up with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir to belt out their message of community and compassion to the reddest of conservative red states that have anti-LGBT laws on the books. What could possibly go wrong?
The chorus’ leadership is concerned that plenty could go wrong in the wake of the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. NBC Bay Area reports that the chorus has decided to double its security detail for the trip, and is asking for online donations to finance the additional security.
"We're going to do everything we can do to keep everyone who's going on the tour as safe as possible," SFGMC board chair Steve Huffines told NBC Bay Area. "And a significant change to that happened when we saw what happened in Charlottesville."
The two choral groups are calling it the Lavender Pen Tour, and they’ll visit six states in the deep south from October 7 to 15. Performances will be at some friendly-sounding venues like Pride Winston Salem (North Carolina), and some decidedly less welcoming venues, like the steps of the Mississippi state capital where “the Worst Anti-LGBTQ State Law in the U.S.” just passed, legalizing all forms of anti-gay discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.
“There absolutely will be protests, but our message is one of love and hope,” SFGMC marketing director Peter Zimmerman told TimeOut. “It’s not our job to make people feel comfortable.”
But it is their job to keep the performers safe, which in this case means doubling up on security. Meanwhile, the proceeds from each performance will benefit LGBTQ advocacy organizations in each respective city, like PFLAG Birmingham (Alabama), the University of Tennessee Pride Center, and Transcend Charlotte (North Carolina).
Related: Member Of San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Collapses Onstage During Intermission, Dies