A year ago this week, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus was on our Middle East tour. We were winding up our travels in Israel with successful concerts in Ein Gedi, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv. As we left for Istanbul there was uncertainty about how turnout would be at our concert, after we were ejected from our first venue by the Turkish government. There was also uncertainty on how the Supreme Court would rule on the issue of marriage equality. By the end of our trip we would have the uncertainty of what to do when Istanbul Pride was shut down by Police as we gathered to march.
The Boston Gay Men's Chorus is embarking on a historic tour of the Middle East, becoming the first gay chorus to perform across the region. Follow our progress via this blog and on our YourTube channel: YouTube.com/BGMC1982. You can also join the conversation by following the handle @BGMC1982 on Twitter and Instagram, and the hashtag #BGMCTour on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
During rehearsal for our performance at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv on our last night in Israel, our first look at the space was disappointing, to say the least: Only 40 chairs had been set up for audience members and our stage was tucked away in a corner of the Dellal Center’s vast outdoor courtyard.
“Where are you from?”
That’s a question we’ve heard a lot since arriving in Israel three days ago. Our answer usually elicits a smile, sometimes a follow up question, or, rarely, a look of confusion.
But when we were asked that question Monday night in Jerusalem’s only gay bar―the Video Pub―the questioner, who happened to be the bartender, immediately called his boss to let him know we were in town. Immediately afterward, shots of Arak were poured―on the house―for a toast welcoming us to Israel and the city of Jerusalem.
Well the tour has finally begun and with everything that’s going on it’s important to take stock of it all and really appreciate the wonder of it all. This is the time for what my friend and drama/theatre professor, Susan Vick, would call a “cosmic breath.” This concept is that when things are going a million miles an hour and you are overwhelmed, you always have time to take a breath and let the world in to provide perspective.
You need to stop and really look at what is going on around you.
The post below comes from former BGMC member Bill Hulseman, who travelled with BGMC 10 years ago on our tour of Eastern Europe. His recollections from that trip are quite moving, and relevant to the journey we are taking today to Israel and Turkey.
I don't get mushy with Facebook posts, so strap in.
With less than a week until we head out for the BGMC Middle East tour, everything is beginning to get real. For two years, this has merely been something to save for, something to talk about, and something to plan for. It's when it gets this close that the whole thing moves from abstract concept to "wow, we'll be in Israel in less than a week!"