Following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has said it has cancelled plans for a tour abroad and will instead tour the red states.
Chorus Director Tim Seelig told ABC7news that the choir was planning on celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018 with a global outreach tour, visiting China, Cuba and other countries where LGBTI communities face greater challenges.
However, last Tuesday’s election, and reports of an upswing in hate crimes against LGBTI people in the US, has prompted a re-think.
‘In response to the election, we decided we have as much work to do at home as we would do abroad.
‘We want to go to those places that are still strongholds of this kind of discrimination and bigotry. And bring our voice. And encourage people there with our music. And also hopefully change some hearts and minds.’
The tour will take place in 2018, just before the midterm elections.
‘There’s such a change in the energy within the chorus when we started thinking about this,’ added Chorus Chairman Steve Huffines, ‘because all of a sudden we were engaged, we were active, we were committed, we were doing something.’
The exact itinerary of the ‘Building Bridges’ tour is yet to be determined, but will take in several states in the southern US.
In a statement on its website, Executive Director Chris Verdugo said, ‘We, as a country, have a long road to travel.
‘Our LGBT youth fear what their future might look like. We have a duty to them and an obligation to protect the freedoms we have rigorously fought for. We believe this tour is a step in the right direction that will build bridges of understanding, compassion and empathy.’
To coincide with the announcement of the new tour, the choir also posted a new video online of members singing There Will Be A Light.
Commenting on the song, Seelig said, ‘We are all grappling with the shock of the election returns. There is widespread fear and despair among many communities across our diverse country. This song came immediately to mind. It is a piece that has brought comfort in other dark times. It is our hope it will do that again.’