I was a member of a group of people from the Groton Massachusetts area who hosted the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus for a public concert. The concert filled an 800-seat concert hall at a local middle school. The money raised from the concert was divided among five high schools to benefit Gay-Straight Alliance groups and projects supporting tolerance and opposing bullying. The five high schools involved included three private schools and two public high schools.
The concert created a positive event for the local LGBT community and connected the GSAs (Gay-Straight Alliances) in area high schools with each other. An added benefit from the activity of the concert led to the re-activation of one GSA, which had become dormant.
Students, parents, teachers, and town members said the organizing of the concert, as well as the concert itself, was transforming. The people who were distributing the posters said that they were transformed and they saw the community transformed. They came back with story after story of parents or siblings talking about gay or lesbian family members. Some people they met said that they had never told anyone this before. They had never felt comfortable. They heard stories of students who brought posters to their places of employment and how educational that was for them and others. They gave posters to their parents to bring to work and their parents described what they experienced as they hung up the poster in a lobby or lunchroom. The whole community was involved, not just the schools.
The BGMC put on a wonderful show that was enjoyed by all those who attended. In the words of Rev. Elea Kemler (minister in the First Parish Church of Groton), in a sermon a week after the event, “I couldn’t help thinking, imagining what would it be like to be a gay or lesbian teenager watching those beautiful men come pouring onto that stage. What would it be like to be a young bisexual or transgender teenager sitting in that auditorium surrounded by hundreds of the people of your little town? To see your neighbors there, your teachers, your parents’ best friends, all of whom had come to support kids like you. . . Imagine how life-altering a moment like that could be.”