The Gay Choir of Mexico City: a space of freedom where music is the limit
In Mexico City, there is a space that has helped dozens of men to change their lives by empowering them and even coming out of the closet: the Gay Choir of Mexico City. Its members have performed in places like New York and Los Angeles.
The Gay Choir of Mexico City has become a space of freedom where the limit is music. But it is also a platform that has changed the lives of the people who participate there, making them visible and empowering them.
"Before I was more introverted and shy and now this allows me to be on stage and dance. It has also made me more sensitive and empathetic to my surroundings and I think those are the great things that this choir has given me," says Óscar Urtusástegui, member and director of the project.
He does not hesitate to say that the group has changed his life, has allowed him to give interviews, speak in public, and above all, a safer man has made it possible to handle the responsibility of representing and caring for the interests of the members and their spectators.
The Gay Choir of Mexico City was born in 2013 with 12 people and was the first of its kind in Latin America since they have existed in the United States for 40 years.
The project, independent and self-financed, now has 90 members and has been one of the most important actions for Óscar, who affirms that through this space, cultural activism is sought through music.
"If there is something that this project has left me with, it is more clear that this struggle is constant. We always think that someone else should do it for us, but this has taught me that there is a lot of work that must be done every day and our way of doing it is with the choir".
"Our responsibility is with our colleagues, they have used this choir to come out of the closet, to show a different way of pride, it is the part that fills us with great satisfaction"
Óscar Urtusástegui, member and director of the project
Almost six years after its creation, the group has made 66 performances of which three were in New York City and four in Los Angeles. While in the country they have been in the State of Mexico, Hidalgo, and Morelos.
For the members, every time they see the audience getting excited or crying, they reaffirm that these emotions can be achieved thanks to the beautiful energy that the members of the group have.
With five and a half years of being part of the choir, Óscar, who is almost 50 years old, says that since joining the choir he has learned to get more and more excited.
Besides that, the group can boast of breaking prejudices.
"Once, a person from the public asked why we call ourselves Gay Choir if we sing like men, a lot of what we have done is to break down stereotypes that they have about the people of the community, here we respect individuality, we have strong people, 18 years old, 60".
The project is composed of doctors, accountants, engineers, architects and seeks to eliminate the idea that it is only made up of certain sectors. The songs played by the Gay Choir of Mexico City have to have an important message for the community, such is the case of Born this way by Lady Gaga. Other songs in his repertoire are those of Juan Gabriel, Queen, Mónica Naranjo, and Pink Floyd.
"We look for songs that make us enjoy, that makes us vibrate," says Luis Domínguez, member of the choir's organizing committee.
Anyone over 18 can audition to be part of the project
According to Luis, there are two audition periods, in winter and in summer. The only requirements that are asked are that they are of legal age and that they want to make music.
The choir rehearsals are on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and a Sunday a month from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Casa de la Cultura Jesús Romero Flores located in Colonia Condesa.
The trips abroad that the choir has had are very representative
"Having been in New York and singing with the choir or with Gloria Trevi has made us feel very full of great luck to achieve this."
The group has also served as an example for young gays from other latitudes.
"Once we went to Los Angeles to sing to a high school in the Latino community, where they have an education program, then they share the experiences of what it is like to come out of the closet and how to live a homosexual life openly. That day the students thanked us because we were able to give them a message of hope, that there is a future and that it is not so black".
While for Óscar Urtusástegui, the concert that has most enjoyed was the reopening of the Glorieta de Insurgentes. "We were very close to the public and I loved seeing people keep arriving and how they got hooked up immediately, they were pre-eminent and at that moment the director told us 'go with the audience' and we approached and danced along with them."
Óscar also remembers a presentation in Cuautla where, when a senior woman finished, she told them that she wished there were such a place and her grandson could join them.
"It was very nice because our responsibility is with our colleagues, they have used this choir to come out of the closet, to show a different way of pride, it is the part that fills us with much satisfaction beyond if we sing with Trevi or front with many people".
For Luis Domínguez, member of the organizing committee of the Gay Choir of Mexico City, the challenges are to continue doing shows and record an album, but above all to go to GALA (Gay and Lesbian Acceptance), an organization of which they are part and which in 2020 he will give a festival in Minneapolis, United States, for him it is like the Olympics of this type of projects.
Óscar Urtusástegui, member and director, does not regret being part of the choir, in fact he assures that if he had the opportunity to speak with his old self, the one who came to have insecurities and fear, he would like to tell him not to stop trying, that always going to be able to, which is worth fighting because sooner or later the rewards of so much effort will come.