Where do we go from here?

Posted on June 27, 2016 by Thomas Collins

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.

A year later, and Turkey’s government is once again shutting down the Istanbul Pride march. A year later and there is uncertainty on how to move forward after the attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Something worth considering about our current uncertainty is how we dealt with the past uncertainty and what the results were. SCOTUS found for marriage equality and our Istanbul concert ended up being an incredibly powerful triumph over censorship with over 5,000 people in attendance.

Neither of these successes came from just waiting for good news, though. They were hard fought and only happened after setbacks and failures.

It’s hard to take it in stride and move forward and different people are able to do it in their own time. A year ago, we were turned away by police and security officers in riot gear from marching in Istanbul Pride. As a group, we came together to decide how to move forward. For us, our music is our strength and our medium of engaging change, and so we made the decision to leave our concert to speak for us. As individuals, with feeling still so raw, we all handled it differently. Some retreated to quiet spaces to be alone, others gathered in groups for comfort and solidarity, while others made their way out to the streets to bear witness to those still resisting and celebrating and protesting for Pride.

With Orlando we will all have different ways to move forward. We will all take different ways to grieve. In time the uncertainty will give way to the will and determination to continue to try to make the world better; to refuse to believe that those seeking to oppress us have won.

Looking back a year ago to what we did in Israel and Turkey, and the impact that we had as well as the impact that was made on us, I’m incredibly proud to know that as an organization, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus will continue to use our music and our presence to be a force for tolerance, acceptance, and pride. I am excited that we have announced our next tour for 2018 will be to South Africa. I am uncertain as to what challenges will face us over the next two years, but I am certain we’ll be ready to meet them head on.