The first LGBTI choir in Myanmar is busy with rehearsals ahead of its second-ever public performance.
The choir which formed only late last year, gave its first public performance at heavily attended &Proud festival in January.
&Proud is Myanmar’s Pride Festival which this year, was attended by thousands of people in the capital, Yangon.
The &PROUD LGBT Choir held its first performance in front of thousands of people and despite having understandable nerves ahead of the show, they were a hit with festival-goers.
‘It was a really interesting experience,’ Ko Pyi Phyo Aung, the choir’s conductor told Frontier Myanmar.
‘Many people in the choir hadn’t sung on stage before, but there were a lot of compliments after.’
Myanmar -formerly known as Burma – is a country in South East Asia which is slowly becoming more accepting of LGBTI people.
But it is not without its challenges. In June last year, leading advocates condemned the portrayal of LGBTI characters in Myanmar film. LGBTI characters were often depicted as the butt of the joke, as sexual predators or people who could be cured of the gender or sexual identity.
Which why the visibility of the LGBTI choir is so important and give a voice to a misrepresented community.
‘Finding a community here is quite difficult, especially in a country that’s so modest in speaking about how people should express their feelings,’ Pyi Phyo Aung said.
‘So I think instead of having to shout from the rooftops about your feelings or what your sexual orientation is, music can be another language of expression.’
Helping people being out and proud
Ko Soe Nyan Naing, identifies as LGBTI and became a choir member last year. They said they were terrified and exhilarated to perform at the &PROUD festival.
‘In the past, I didn’t feel comfortable about my sexuality,’ said Soe Nyan Naing.
‘But I feel very proud now. The choir is friendly and fun, and there is a great sense of community.’
The &PROUD LGBT Choir plans to perform again sometime in May or June.