Meet the London chorus changing hearts one song at a time
LGBTQ+ allies from the community are joining forces with Pride Men's Chorus London
London community members are taking a Stand! and showing their pride.
For a second year, LGBTQ+ allies are joining forces with Pride Men's Chorus London to sing their hearts out in hopes of fostering inclusion during their London Pride Fest concert titled Stand!.
"It means so much to the heart to know that the support of allies is on the stage with you," said Andrew Kazowski, a member of Pride Men's Chorus and of the LGBTQ+ community.
"It's just amazing to see everyone come together and support each other because we all believe in the ability to be our true selves," he added.
Pride Men's Chorus London was founded in 2016 as a way to bring men of different sexual orientations together to sing in support of diversity and acceptance.
For LGBTQ+ ally Doug Lester, he saw the opportunity to sing with the chorus as a way to show his support to his niece and granddaughter who are both part of the queer community.
"I want to be able to show them through my actions and my passion that I'm on their side and that I'm hoping to help make a safer and saner world," Lester said.
"I want to show that all of us can embrace life without barriers and without divisive labels," he added.
When you get to do activities like this with people who are very strong allies, it shows that yes, you are accepted.-Paul Cooper, member of Pride Men's Chorus London
Last year, after many requests from Londoners, co-founders of the chorus, Rod Culham and Clark Bryan, decided to open Pride Celebration Chorus, a group open to people of all genders and sexual orientation who want to sing during London Pride Fest.
"For a lot of the members it's very healing and affirming to have that support from the straight population," said Bryan.
Katy Boychuk had seen many of the men's chorus performances and was eager to sign up as a member of Pride Celebration Chorus to show her support for her friends who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
"Not everybody feels comfortable being public about who they are yet, but hopefully by coming to this show, they'll be able to see that there's people in the community who are being themselves and who feel welcomed, appreciated and respected," she said.
"I think in the background of every gay person's mind is that question of 'will I be accepted?'" said Pride Men's Chorus member Paul Cooper, a gay man who came out more than 20 years ago.
"Then, when you get to do activities like this with people who are very strong allies, it shows that yes, you are accepted," he said.
For this year's performance, the music that will be featured is representative of ideals celebrated during Pride such as inclusiveness for all, not just people from the LGBTQ+ community.
"We're singing about acceptance, freedom to be yourself, celebrating the way we were born and celebrating all our differences," said Rod Culham, the co-director of the show.
The Stand! concert will be taking place Thursday, July 25 and Friday, July 26 at Aeolian Hall.