Over 1750 singers have been a part of CGMC in our first 32 years. The chorus was an immediate hit upon its founding in 1983. “Chicago has given birth to potentially the finest gay men's chorus in America," raved Gay Chicago's Richard Noland. "The versatility and spirit outshines that of other gay choruses."
What began as a group of 56 singers performing in a high school auditorium once per year has grown into a group of 250 singers with a year-round performance schedule. The chorus continues to be a prominent member of both Chicago’s cultural and gay communities. In 2003, CGMC became the first gay chorus (and the largest group of any kind) to sing the national anthem at a Chicago Cubs game, which the chorus now does on an annual basis. Other honors during the chorus’s history include being a part of the Chicago arts community’s benefit concert for the victims of September 11; Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2001 and currently has four cd-recordings available: Cool Yule, featuring jazzy holiday selections; I Will Be Loved Tonight, a collection of our favorite love songs; Favorite Things, our second celebration of holiday music; and So Happy Together: Festival Gems, featuring all live performances from our appearances at the last three quadrennial GALA Festivals. Recent credits include representing the Chicago LGBT community at Mayor Emmanuel's second -term Inagural Ceremony; proudly singing “America the Beautiful” for the Illinois Marriage Equality Act bill-signing ceremony and was the featured guest choral performer for the star-studded concert, Broadway Rocks, with the Grant Park Music Festival in 2011.
CGMC has traveled extensively across North America, representing Chicago in Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, New Orleans, and many other cities.
Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus was formed during an era, the early 1980s, when being identified at gay carried significant risks. A person could still be fired, evicted, or otherwise discriminated against for being gay; no legal protections existed. The epidemic of AIDS loomed large during this time, as well, ostracizing its victims from society, and painting all gay men with the same AIDS-colored brush. Into this climate, the nationwide movement for gay men’s choruses was born, including CGMC.
In CGMC’s first seasons, a large number of the chorus’s founding singing members used aliases in the performance programs to avoid recrimination if their orientation was discovered. Many were not “out” to the community at large, but found a home with CGMC. The chorus provided a place where many men made the transition to coming out in a safe and welcoming atmosphere.
While much advancement in the fight for Equlaity has been made in the LGBT community in the decades since GCMC’s founding, there is still work to be done. And there remains a need for a sense of community, where LGBT people can have the space, physically and emotionally, to be comfortable in who they are, and to share a sense of commonality and purpose. CGMC also fills an important need for the LGBT audience, offering professional quality performances but with a gay viewpoint. While Chicago is full of drag shows, and there are several galleries who feature LGBT visual artists, there remains a desire in the community for professional quality musical entertainment. The culturally specific arts programming that CGMC provides fills that need.