April 4, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

How the Gay Men’s Chorus of L.A. Keeps Going

The queer institution prepares for its 40th season

In February of this year, the Gay Men’s Chorus of L.A., one of the city’s most stalwart institutions, lost its oldest member. Dick Sommers had one of the most astounding queer resumes of any Angeleno: to read it feels like checking off a list of every influential gay organization of the past 50 years.

Sommers was a member of the Gay Men’s Medicine Circle, the founder of a Pat Rocco fan club, and an organizer and co-founder of the first-ever L.A. Pride in 1970. He was there when Troy Perry and Harry Hay started to create an infrastructure for LGBTQ+ Angelenos in the 1950s and 60s in the form of the Mattachine Society. He was also there when the Gay Men’s Chorus started up in 1979. 

Sommers wasn’t alone. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles is one of the oldest institutions in the city created by and for LGBTQ+ citizens. When the choir started up, AIDS hadn’t gotten a chance to wipe out a huge chunk of the city’s queer population, along with its bathhouses, gay clubs, and organizations. In 1979, there could have been nothing more hopeful than the idea of a bunch of gay men getting together to sing their hearts out.

The chorus has survived a plague, budget problems, and numerous other obstacles to its survival. It has still managed to see in its 40th season this year. And despite facing some serious monetary setbacks, the appointment of a brand new Music Director and Conductor in USC Thornton Alumnus Ernest Harrison is giving members and fans of the 40-year-old institution new hope for its continued life on the stage. 

When an L.A. Times article called attention to the chorus’s severe money and reputation problems in April, things weren’t looking great, especially with the GMCLA’s 40th anniversary approaching and the threat of insolvency looming overhead. After recent sexual misconduct allegations well as the financial mismanagement of earlier years, it was uncertain whether or not the institution could stay in business without filing for bankruptcy. Chairman Steve Holzer, in the same L.A. Times article, said that the organization was “struggling to stay alive.” 

Now, at the end of 2019 and with the chorus preparing for its Holiday Spectacular show, it looks like GMCLA will keep fighting for at least another season. 

Let’s hope that, with some community support and fundraising, the same chorus that showed up at Dick Sommers’ bedside during his last days will be singing its heart out for years to come. 

Related Posts

MIKA, Lil Nas X and More at GLAAD Awards

March 6, 2020

March 6, 2020

GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announced that recording artist and...

“Pose” Actress and Transgender Rights Advocate Angelica Ross Among the Honorees Truth Awards

March 3, 2020

March 3, 2020

The Annual Awards Show to Honor and Recognize LGBTQ + African Americans and Their Allies By Staff Writer Better Brothers...

Santa Monica Honors LGBTQ Politician and Heal The Bay CEO on 100th Anniversary of U.S. Women’s Right to Vote

February 28, 2020

February 28, 2020

Honorees Include Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Heal The Bay CEO Dr. Shelley Luce Amidst an election year...

Los Angeles Premiere of Latinx LGBTQ Film at Outfest Fusion

February 26, 2020

February 26, 2020

“Acuitzeramo” screening March 9 By Staff Writer Outfest Fusion presents the Los Angeles premiere of Cabaldana Alchemy’s short film “Acuitzeramo”...

Douglas: What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting

February 26, 2020

February 26, 2020

By Chole Marie Rivera The theater is dark and light casts a purple glow on the outline of a cartoon...

Honoring National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day at the ONE Archive

February 4, 2020

February 4, 2020

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is on Friday, February 7. In the LGBTQ+ community, HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects gay black men...

Q&A: Being Openly Gay at LA Opera

February 3, 2020

February 3, 2020

The scene: Eurydice always imagined that her wedding day would be a day she’d never forget. But after a tragic...

USC One Archives to Host Screening of Film on Black Trans Woman to Honor Black History Month

February 1, 2020

February 1, 2020

Meet Mary Jones, a black transgender woman born in New York in 1803. Described as a “man-monster” in the press. ...

Trans Flag Emoji Unveiled for More Cyber-Inclusion

January 31, 2020

January 31, 2020

Transgender texters, rejoice! For there is finally an emoji there for you!  Unicode Consortium, the company that sets industry standard...

LGBT Center to Host Groundbreaking Conference for LGBT Widows and Widowers in L.A.

January 30, 2020

January 30, 2020

Renowned Designer, Author, Advocate Nate Berkus to Give Keynote Address On Saturday, February 29, the Los Angeles LGBT Center will host...

LGBTQ Center of LB Announces 2020 Executive Team for Board of Directors

January 29, 2020

January 29, 2020

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach recently announced its new executive team to lead the organization’s 2020 Board of Directors.  Stella...

Public Outcry Temporarily Saves Los Angeles LGBT Center’s STD, HIV Services

January 28, 2020

January 28, 2020

The temporary agreement restores funding through the end of March. The Los Angeles LGBT Center announced today that it has...

HRC to Honor Dan Levy, Janelle Monáe at Award Ceremony in DTLA

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Award Season is upon us, and the LGBTQ+ Community is not immune. HRC announced today that actor Dan Levy will...

HEALTH FEATURE: Need a Podiatrist?

January 26, 2020

January 26, 2020

Dr. Steven L. Rosenberg treating foot injuries with traditional, regenerative and homeopathic medicine.  By Staff Writer If you suffer from...

VIDEO: South Coast Chorale’s Tribute to Gay & Civil Rights Activist

January 24, 2020

January 24, 2020

67 years ago, openly gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin was arrested on a discriminatory, anti-gay “lewd conduct” charge for...