FARGO, N.D. (AP) — About 15 men in Fargo-Moorhead have started a gay men's chorus and hope to pull off a holiday concert.
The chorus organized a few months ago and has been holding weekly rehearsals at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Fargo. The group hasn't performed yet, but members say they're open to performing at any church that will welcome them, The Forum newspaper reported (http://bit.ly/1fCLWWL ).
"I see gay people as wanting to belong, wanting to be part of their communities," said chorus director Jon Landre.
The director of a gay chorus in Minnesota's Twin Cities is mentoring Landre. The Fargo region is more conservative than larger cities like Minneapolis and San Francisco, where the first gay men's chorus started in 1978.
Seth Meyer, 19, a senior at Minnesota State University Moorhead, came out last year after a five-year struggle and an eventual break from his Mormon upbringing.
"Even coming through the doors to rehearsal, you're acknowledging to yourself, 'I'm gay.' And that's huge," he said.
The history of gay men's choruses goes back to Nov. 27, 1978, when a rehearsal scheduled for a new chorus in San Francisco became its public debut. The city's first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, was fatally shot that day. In response, the San Francisco chorus assembled at the steps of City Hall to sing in memory of Milk, a key figure in the gay rights movement.
Choruses have formed in larger cities across the country since then. The Twin Cities group is in its 33rd year. But only a handful of smaller cities have such choruses, according to the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, or GALA. Among them are Las Cruces, N.M., which has a metro population of 214,700, and Iowa City, Iowa, with a metro population of 152,586. The Fargo-Moorhead metro area has about 209,000 people.
Every four years, GALA holds an international singing festival. The Fargo-Moorhead chorus is aiming to sing at the next one, in Denver in 2016.
Information from: The Forum, http://www.in-forum.com