Orlando Gay Chorus doesn’t just ‘say gay,’ they ‘sing gay’ — and sing it loudly

Eskamani and the Orlando Gay Chorus
Eskamani and the Orlando Gay Chorus photo by Jim Hobart/Macbeth Studios

The atmosphere in Steinmetz Hall was more charged than usual last Wednesday night as the Orlando Gay Chorus held court for the final date of their BroadGAY Spectacular mini-tour. On the same evening that Gov. Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk were driving Twitter off a cliff like a shitty Thelma and Louise to herald the former's presidential bid, OGC took the stage in front of a vocal local crowd along with outspoken guest MCs Anna and Ida V. Eskamani.

Though the setlist was chosen many months in advance — "One of our mantras when we look for music is 'where's the gay?'" says Brian Lorenz, OGC Board of Directors Vice Chair and performer — there was a new poignancy and urgency palpable in performances of songs like Kinky Boots' "Not My Father's Son" and The Life's "My Body." The performers embodied both the joy of expression and frustration at a flood of anti-gay and anti-trans legislation pouring out of Tallahassee. The sentiments hinted at in song were amply underlined by the Eskamanis' introductions and ad-libs.

"It was, unfortunately, very fortuitous," says Lorenz of the song selections. "We already knew we had something that we needed to say already a year ago and then it was literally being beaten down. ... The last song we played said it all, 'We've come so far/ We've got so far to go.'"

"We realized there were much higher meanings to the songs than we had previously ascribed," says Sean Mundyschein, OGC performer and Board of Directors Chair. "So it became super important that we were able to get our message out there of love and acceptance in a time where we're starting to feel that love and acceptance go away."

On the same evening Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk were driving Twitter off a cliff like a shitty Thelma and Louise, OGC took the stage in front of a vocal local crowd.

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This tour also included stops in places familiar — the Ritz in Sanford — and new — Theatre Winter Haven. All part of a mission to take their message to new ears, perhaps outside the "Orlando bubble."

"We were nervous going into a different political sphere out in Winter Haven and Polk County. All of our fears were assuaged the moment we saw our audience," says Mundyschein.

Moments of connection and communication like these only lend more conviction to the sense of mission that Orlando Gay Chorus feels collectively, a mission dating back to 1990.

"We are one of the largest, if not the largest, mixed LGBT chorus in the nation and we've always had women and upper voices performing in our chorus since its inception. And now we have so many gender-nonconforming, gender-fluid members ... we have such a spectrum of voices and experience and talent, that it just makes everyone's voices more powerful together," says Mundyschein.

Orlando Gay Chorus next performs at Kissimmee Pride on Saturday, June 3, and that's the beginning of a busy June for this ensemble — from Pride events to performances at soccer matches. Follow their social media to keep up with all performances.

"We never take a break," says Lorenz. Plenty of truth to sing.


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