The nation’s oldest self-identified LGBT mixed chorus, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco is dedicated to building and enriching the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) community through song and a love of music. Since LGCSF’s first concert 34 years ago at a local middle school, the Chorus has performed around the world, and hundreds of times in San Francisco. The Chorus has provided a forum for San Francisco’s gay and lesbian music lovers to develop their talents, find good friends, and share their gifts with San Francisco’s diverse communities.
LGCSF was founded in 1980 by Bay Area musicians and community members, and first named the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men’s Community Chorus. Under the direction of conductor, singer and pianist Robin Kay, the Chorus participated in a number of historical gay and lesbian community events. Some of the highlights included the Gay Musical Celebration at Grace Cathedral in 1980, and the annual Gay Freedom Day Parade. The Chorus was a part of the nonprofit arts organization, Golden Gate Performing Arts, Inc. (GGPA), whose mission was to “support the growth and expression of performing artists in the [LGBT] community.” The Chorus helped to found the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses (GALA) in 1981, and was renamed the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco in 1984.
LGCSF continued to serve its community by celebrating gay and lesbian culture with performances at events such as San Francisco’s annual Pride Concerts, Gay Games II in 1986, and Joan Baez’s Christmas Concert at the Warfield in 1987. LGCSF also performed at many AIDS fundraisers throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, including “In the Memory of Friends” at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, and a cabaret show at the fabulous Venetian Room of the Fairmont Hotel, with Marga Gomez as emcee.
The 1990s saw many accomplishments for LGCSF. Under the direction of Pat Parr, LGCSF produced its first CD in 1994, “Together in Harmony,” and performed Carmina Burana with the Peninsula Ballet Company and full orchestra at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater in 1996. The Chorus received the Bob Cramer Award for Excellence at the Cable Car Awards in 1992, as well as several Best Concert Awards in past years. LGCSF was the first gay and lesbian group to win the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce Arts Excellence Award (1994).
LGCSF has always sought to contribute to the LGBT community by promoting the work of gay and lesbian composers and providing positive examples of LGBT culture. The Chorus produced a Lesbian and Gay Composers Concert in 1993. In 1994 the Chorus performed at the 13th Annual International Convention of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). It also participated in several GALA Choruses Festivals, with thousands of singers attending. In the Fall of 2002, LGCSF members travelled to Sydney, Australia for Gay Games VI, “Under New Skies.” They sang with the Gay and Lesbian Choruses of the World in the Opening Ceremonies, and in the sold-out “Sing Out” performance at the Sydney Opera House. More recently the Chorus performed at the historic Castro Theater Christmas Eve Holiday concerts in 2001 and 2002, with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC).
Some words from the GGPA and LGCSF’s first concert program might best capture the spirit that moves the members of LGCSF to this day:
“For the first time in the known history of the world we as homosexual men and women find ourselves in possession of a ‘blank check’ with which to write our own culture, to establish our own community. . . . ‘Yes, we can love one another proudly. Yes, we can build, and create, and establish. Yes, the world is a better place because we are here.”