The Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus is, not only, aiming to usher in the holiday spirit, but they’re fostering a sense of social support for members within the LGBTQ community.
They say the need is most prevalent among youths. A CDC national report shows 29.4 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual students actually attempt suicide. The report also stated, 6.4 percent of heterosexual students attempt suicide nationally.
Garett Martin is the artistic director for the chorus. He says this year they’re reaching out to other agencies to help bring the issue into focus.
"On our October concert, we partnered with GLYS, the Gay & Lesbian Youth Services of WNY, to have them present,” he said. “They had some literature and actually spoke at our concert.”
Robert Hunt has been a member of the chorus for 13 seasons. He says groups like the Gay Men’s Chorus can provide “safe space” for those who, even in this day in age, face a stigma and sometimes violence related to their sexual preference.
“I do feel like there is this painted picture that “gay is ok”, but we can’t forget about the people who don’t have that acceptance in their families,” he said. “I can speak from that personally. I came out in my almost mid-20s, and unfortunately I don’t have ties to my family anymore.
But fortunately for me, I actually met my husband here. He isn’t singing with us right now, but I’ve been married eight years, we’ve been together 11 years. We own a home together. His family has been amazing to me and accepting. Certainly, there’s this picture painted out there, that everybody is accepting, but that certainly isn’t the case still, we have so much further to go.”
Martin says his group plans to continue to set an example and lead the way.
“I think the mission of the chorus is to celebrate pride within ourselves and in our community and I think that’s what we’re here to do,” Martin said. “We’re here to share that message of pride in both being gay men and pride in Buffalo, and how that all plays in together, as far as the cultural fabric of this city.”
The group is preparing for its annual holiday performance. That starts this weekend at the Westminster Presbyterian Church on Delaware avenue in Buffalo.