The concept of “Asia”, particularly as a cultural signifier, has always been problematic. It assumes a high degree of commonality across what is the world’s largest continent, and has been used to homogenize and “other” what is a hugely diverse swathe of people. When Proud Voices Asia, the Asian LGBT choir network was set up, one of its greatest challenges therefore lay in trying to find coherence in this variety, not just in general terms like language or social structure, but more specifically in concepts like “queer”, “choir” and “activism”, while celebrating the multiple contexts in which they exist.
Many in GALA choruses see the times shifting around them. My own chorus now has a few cisgender women singing first tenor, post-transition transmen in three different sections, 6-8 straight cisgender men at any given time. At various times, we have had transwomen members, singing in various sections.
I have sung in one GALA chorus or another for thirty years. I have attended every GALA festival since 1989: I participated as an alto in a lesbian chorus and as an alto in a mixed chorus, then post-transition as a bass in a mixed chorus and as a baritone in a men’s chorus. Each festival I’ve attended has brought with it an experience of marginalization.
New Harmony Task Force members regularly have conversations with individuals, and chorus committees, who are struggling to convince chorus leaders and chorus members to embrace the important work of Equity, Access and Belonging. We’ve collected and crafted a few ideas for you to try.
Conversations on Faith and Religion Discussion Handout.
Fifteen years ago, Jan Michael, an alto in my chorus, approached me to share that s/he identified as transgender and was beginning his physical transition by taking testosterone. I was clueless about the process but suggested that we check in every few months for a range check. Within the next year, to my amazement, Jan’s voice moved seamlessly from alto through tenor and eventually settled at a solid bass 2. Aside from learning to read a new clef, he experienced relatively few vocal issues in the process.
The New Harmony Workbook provides a guide for choruses to explore deep conversations surrounding various identities or issues, asking: “Are we doing all we can (as individuals and as an organization) to foster equity, access, and a sense of belonging in our chorus and community?”
Dr. Robin DiAngelo is the author of “What Does it Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy” and has been an anti-racist educator, and has heard justifications of racism by white men and women in her workshops for over two decades. This justification, which she calls “white fragility,” is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.
The following guidelines should be implemented in any content platform you use: email, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Google Docs, HTML, etc. This list can be used as a quick reference whenever you are creating new content.