Gay Abandon and the joy of singing
Jane talks about running Gay Abandon, Leeds' LGBT choir, and how singing helps to bring people together.
TRANSCRIPTThe best things about running Gay Abandon, or a gay choir in Leeds, is – well, I think it’s the camaraderie, I think it’s the friendships, I think it’s… the mutual support that we give and get from being part of a big organisation, which has a long history – some of us have been in the choir right from the beginning, we know each other very well. And I think that’s one of the best things about it. Another really good thing about it is the singing – singing brings people together. There’s so much research out there about how important singing is for us, and I think if you asked any member of Gay Abandon they’d say that, if you come along feeling stressed and anxious, or lonely, or isolated on a Tuesday night, by the end of the session you’re feeling much more positive and that you’ve got something valuable to give, and that you’ve got some support from the people around you. I think that is really important. […]
When we first, when we first set up in Leeds we were the only northern mixed gay choir in the country – the nearest was based in Birmingham, and it’s still thriving there as well: Rainbow Voices. And then there were choirs in London: Pink Singers, London Gay Men’s Chorus, and I’d also heard a choir that is no longer in existence called Queer Choir at London Pride one year. But once we got established as a choir, a member of our choir called Henry, he spotted that there was a – two different, international gay, mixed gay choir, sorry let’s just say LGBT choir festivals and organisations – one based in America called GALA, and one in Europe called Various Voices, and we got us signed up to both of those organisations.
And then this opened our horizons to the fact that there are choirs all over the world really, and Gay Abandon went off to Berlin in, I think it was 1999/2001, something like that, and we took part in our first international gay choirs – LGBT choirs festival, and we were dreadful, absolutely dreadful. We were only a couple of years old and we were so inexperienced at performing at that point, but we were so warmly received by the European LGBT choirs network and I’ve seen that happen many times since, as new and emerging choirs take to the stage in various European cities for the first time as part of Various Voices and nervously cower in the middle of a stage in front of 2,000 people and perform to the very best that they can and how over the years these choirs, like Gay Abandon, grow in confidence and in musicality and… in later years start to produce amazing performances that thrill singers from around the world. So I’m very proud that Gay Abandon is part of that.