The Gay Men's Chorus of L.A. welcomes openly straight singers
When Jordan Bell moved to L.A. in 2009, he wanted to find a good men's ensemble to sing with.
He soon discovered the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles.
Bell, a 24-year-old marketing manager from upstate New York, had studied voice and performed with a men's group in college. He was impressed with the musicianship and showmanship of the 220-plus-member chorus, which has released more than a dozen CDs and toured internationally.
But he also had one big question. "I wasn't gay," he says, "so I wondered, 'Was I allowed to join?' "
Bell, a bass, emailed a query to the chorus and received "a welcoming response" from the membership president. "He did ask if I'd feel comfortable if people assumed I was gay. I had thought about it, and I knew it was not going to weird me out."
What he didn't know, Bell says, was what it would be like to be straight in a gay group. He also wondered how the other singers would react when they learned he wasn't gay.
Bell got the answer when he attended the chorus' annual retreat in Malibu early last year, soon after he joined. One night, people were sharing coming-out stories and someone asked him about his experiences. At first, he tried to avoid the question. Then, he says, "I decided to be honest and said, 'I never came out because I'm straight.' ... The guy said, 'Wow, you're straight,' but said it a little too loudly and a crowd gathered." The next day, Bell says, "guys were still coming up to me to say it was really cool and show their concern."
Read more about the experiences of the chorus' openly straight singers.
-- Karen Wada
Photo: The Gay Men's Chorus rehearses. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times