2018 has been a difficult year, as we watch the unending attacks on our democracy and many of the values we hold dear—respect, tolerance, decency. Each day seems to bring a new outrage, and we are emotionally exhausted by the indignation that seems to have become a permanent part of daily life.
The arts have always played a role in protest and social justice movements. The songs of the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and the labor movement are a part of our social fabric. The late Donna Red Wing commented at a 1995 GALA Leadership Conference, “Don’t ever tell me that you are not political. Don’t ever tell me that. You are our cultural warriors. You truly change and heal hearts and minds. You take the reality of what it means to be gay and lesbian and you make it public. You wrap it in the magic of your music and you present it as a gift, a gift to your brothers and sisters and as a gift to the larger community.” If cultural warriors were ever needed, the time is now.
As we ask ourselves if we are doing everything we can to push back against the normalization of outrageous behavior, we also look to understand and address the root causes of the fear and insecurity that allowed a xenophobic, racist, misogynistic administration to be elected. One day the current administration will be gone, but the income inequality and institutional racism that created it will not.
Our member choruses are singing songs of justice and protest. Many have gotten out of their metropolitan city centers to take their message to the surrounding regions. At the same time, new choruses forming in “red” areas are allowing us to consistently deliver our message more and more widely.
Are we doing enough? Are we using every tool in our toolbox? We challenge ourselves at GALA Choruses and each of our member choruses to make sure that, when we look back at this era, we will be proud of the role that we played.