Boston, MA—The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC) issued the following statement by executive director Craig Coogan in response to the events that occurred at Istanbul Pride on June 28, which coincided with the last day of the BGMC’s historic tour of the Middle East, during which BGMC performed five concerts over 10 days, becoming the first gay choral group to perform in Israel and Turkey:
“This week ‘love wins’ was heralded around the world as the United States joined other nations in legalizing marriage for same-sex couples throughout the country. From our experiences with the people of Istanbul, including the hundreds who pushed for our performance in Istanbul after it was nearly cancelled, to the thousands who come out to listen to us at Bogacizi University on June 27, we are hopeful that love will win in Turkey soon as well.
“Our performance at Bogacizi University was a joyous and boisterous occasion that saw concert-goers dancing in the aisles, including Charles Hunter, US Consul of Istanbul, who joined us on stage for our last number. The concert was not just a great night out, it was an example of how music is a universal language that inspires change, builds community, and celebrates difference.
“But the following day we were turned away from participating and supporting Istanbul Pride by riot police. Some of our members witnessed unprovoked violence and aggression toward Pride march participants. That is why cultural exchange means so much to audiences in places like Turkey and around the world where the promise of full equality still lies in the distance, and events from political action to cultural experiences can inspire hope.
“We join Lady Gaga and others who have expressed outrage for the way Pride-goers in Istanbul were attacked by police during peaceful celebrations of love, and we will continue to use our art to inspire social change, as we did during the marriage equality battle in Massachusetts, and as we do through multiple outreach concerts in schools, community centers, and houses of worship throughout Massachusetts.”
About the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus
Boston Gay Men’s Chorus creates musical experiences to inspire change, build community and celebrate difference. The BGMC is one of New England’s largest and most successful community-based choruses. Founded in 1982, the 175-voice ensemble is celebrated for its outstanding musicianship, creative programming, and groundbreaking community outreach. Under the dynamic leadership of Music Director Reuben M. Reynolds III, the BGMC sings a wide spectrum of classical and popular music and creates social change by providing a positive, affirming image of the gay and lesbian community. The Chorus is heard live by more than 10,000 people each season and thousands more through recording, television and internet broadcasts. In November, 2013, CBS-WBZ named The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus one of the “top five” choruses in the city of Boston.