Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Break the Silence Concert: More Details

Three renowned LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) choirs will come together for the first time to sing sacred and spiritual music, while lending their own unique voices to advance the existing Christian movement for LGBT equality.  The concert will take place in New York City at one of the oldest Christian institutions in the United States – Marble Collegiate Church.  The entire event is an initiative of the Believe Out Loud project, which is managed by the Collegiate Churches non-profit organization, Intersections International.

The three choirs are:

  • The New York City Gay Men's Chorus, which has appeared at such venues as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and performed alongside such stars as Liza Minnelli, Stephen Sondheim, Carol Channing and Eartha Kitt.  From Town Hall to City Hall, from the advent of AIDS to the struggle for marriage equality, the NYCGMC and its more than 250 members have been producing innovative programs and serving the LGBT community for more than 30 years.
  • The Anna Crusis Women's Choir, the longest running women's choir in the United States, was founded in Philadelphia in 1975.  In addition to being a premier performing arts group, they are an agent for social change that tackles issues facing LGBT persons and other disadvantaged populations.
  • Lavender Light Gospel Choir, a men and women's chorus, was founded in 1985.  The group consists of several ethnic and spiritual backgrounds, and provides a special ministry to African-American gays and lesbians—a constituency who have historically been pressured within their communities to choose between their race and orientation.
Sung Won Park, director of Believe Out Loud and all LGBT programming for Intersections International, called the coming together of the three choirs "a historical event to shout out God's love for all people, especially those who have been marginalized by the church as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

"The time has come for us to take a stand," said Park, "and let the world know that being silent about our support of LGBT equality equals shutting the doors to the sanctuaries for these individuals."
Believe Out Loud, a trans-denominational movement to promote LGBT-inclusion in the Christian church, has begun a three-year drive to get one million progressive Christian voices to believe out loud and show the public that an all-inclusive Christian collective can save lives.  According to a recent poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute, an astounding two-thirds of the respondents see a direct connection "between messages coming from America's places of worship and higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth." (http://www.publicreligion.org/research/?id=426)

Within the Episcopal Church, IntegrityUSA, along with TransEpiscopal, The OASIS and other diocesan LGBT ministries, has adopted the brand"Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregations" for those churches who are intentionally welcoming and affirming of LGBT people.

"The church should serve to affirm life for all people," said Park.  "But if two-thirds of the public believes the church is not affirming life when it comes to LGBT people, it is a wake-up call to all churches to shift this perspective."

Believe Out Loud is an unprecedented coalition of the nation's leading religious and secular LGBT organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC); Gays & Lesbians Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Progressive Christians Uniting; Public Religion Research; Christian Community Inc.; The Religious Institute; Many Voices; The Association for Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (American Baptist Church USA); Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples Alliance (Christian Church/Disciples of Christ); Integrity USA (Episcopal Church); Lutherans Concerned (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America); More Light Presbyterians (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)); The Coalition for LGBT Concerns (United Church of Christ); and The Reconciling Ministries Network (United Methodist Church).

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