A Dickens of a Christmas!

Dickens poster
The date was Saturday the 18th of December, the time 7:30pm and the place the Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton. Again, as at last year’s wonderful “Hallelujah! It’s Christmas” concert, the snow lay deep and crisp and even which whilst making things very seasonal sadly prevented a number of people from attending.

As you can see from the
programme, it was a concert of two very different halves. We opened the evening with the choir split into three groups (left, right and centre) to perform Mozart’s Canon for Three Choirs and followed that with the kind of Christmas carols you would expect plus some probably unknown to many audience members, lovely solos and duets, some Christmas songs too and plenty of audience partici----pation!

The second half was our own curious and alternative LGBT musical take on Dickens’ perennial Christmas story. This was a first for Rainbow Chorus as it was essentially a panto both written and performed by members of the choir. It was also notable for being the first time most of the choir have sung at the left of the auditorium instead of in front. This was a bonus for the actors who said how great it was to actually hear the choir as an ‘audience’ member for the first time! It seemed to prove a hit with being cheering and booing at appropriate moments and even laughing at the jokes! Several audience members were seen on their feet at the back and swaying along to the songs! It was a realy tribute to the talents of the choir that it was written in house and we had some unforgettable performances from choir members who we have since seen in a whole new light.

The evening finished with a cheery rendition of Winter Wonderland before everyone headed out into the snowy winter evening.

Luckily, someone was on hand to take some
photographs to give a flavour of the fun.

Some names were missed out from the choir programme but were mentioned on the night, they were: Pascal Bernier (Tenor), Craig Thomas (Bass and Deputy MD) and Basil Richmond (Tenor)

World AIDS Day Charity Concert

This WAD we performed in St. Mary’s Church in Kemptown as one of the guests of the Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus for their charity concert.

The snow was falling thick and fast outside the church but inside it was an evening of real musical warmth and variety with the Brighton Gay Mens’ Chorus (obviously!),
Hullabaloo, Qukulele, soprano Red Gray and our lovely selves. The music performed by each group was quite diverse - especially Qukulele with their singing coupled with energetic ukulele playing and whilst surreally dressed in Hawaiian style T-Shirts! We performed a set comprising: I Still Haven’t Found what I’m looking For, Fix You, As Torrents in Summer and ended with the world premiere of a new piece, “Found”, written specifically for the choir by our Musical Director Matt Pollard and his lyrical collaborator Peter Kenny.

There was a massed sing of Holly Near’s “Singing for our Lives”, composed in memory of Harvey Milk, to give the evening a rousing ending.

Afterwards, there was a reading of the names of all those who have died of AIDS related illness in Brighton and Hove, followed by reflection across the road at the AIDS memorial in New Steine Gardens. It was very beautiful surrounded by small candles, some bouquets and the snow falling all the time.

You can see photos of the night’s events courtesy of REALBrighton

Brighton's "No To Hate Crime" vigil

Last year more than 200 people joined together at the Old Steine, Brighton to express their concern and anger and to commemorate those who had been victims of Hate Crime. At the same time there were 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square and many other groups across the country (including several of us from the choir which you can read about on our history page) for the first International Day against Hate Crime. This time we attended the vigil at the Old Steine Fountain with a 2 minute silence at 8pm. The Candle-lit Vigil allowed us to stand shoulder to shoulder with other supporters to stop this happening again and shows our support to all victims of Hate Crime. Phelim from the basses spoke at the event on behalf of the LGBT Greens and Angela in the Tenors spoke about the importance of LGBT choirs for health, self-esteem and visibility amongst other things.

The theme for 2010 was ‘
Uniting communities against Hate Crime
Brighton and Hove LGBT Switchboard was founded in 1975 and has been providing services to LGBT communities in Sussex ever since. Originally operating as a helpline Switchboard has expanded over the years to include a face-to-face counselling service and to provide diversity, awareness and LGBT affirmative practice training to local organisations.

If you have been the victim of an LGBT hate crime our helpline can provide you with immediate support both emotionally and with the practicalities of dealing with what's happened to you. We can help you to decide whether and how to involve the police and can report the incident confidentially on your behalf - even if you wish to remain anonymous.

The London Vigil is being hosted by the 17-24-30 group.

Elizabeth Noble of LGBT Switchboard said
‘As an organisation, Switchboard supports LGBT people to overcome the violence and prejudice that we still experience in our streets, our schools, our workplaces and our homes. Hate, in all its forms, is a blight on our city and will only stop when people from across our LGBT communities and beyond stand together and say ‘No’ to those who try to scare, hurt and divide us. This vigil is a unique opportunity for everyone who loves Brighton & Hove to stand together against hate.’

Daniel Ibekwe of Brighton Racial Harassment Forum said
‘The damage done to victims cannot be satisfactorily explained by words, because it cannot be rivalled by any other damage done by any other crimes which humans are either used to or have experience of.

It is and should be a crime that cannot be tolerated or accepted by no person or human, for it is a crime which defiles, demeans and demotes every meaning and being of a human.

The greatest fallacy being that sometimes the motivations for such evil crimes is put down to ignorance and lack of awareness. Whereas this should not be permitted, especially where it is blatantly obvious that the perpetrations of such crimes do so with knowing, deliberate, conscious or orchestrated design and aim.’

Joanna Rowland-Stuart of LGBT disability campaigning charity, Regard Said

“Hate crime, because it grows from a hatred of difference, affects EVERYONE. We are all human beings, and we are all different. Those who seek to hurt your neighbour will just as easily turn on you. Don’t turn your back. It might be yours next.”

A Brighton guest appearance in September!

We were very pleased to have been invited to perform after the Transforming LGBT Lives Conference here in Brighton on September the 15th at the Jurys Inn Hotel.

We performed at a social after the conference itself. The audience after an entire day of talks, discussion and plenary meetings was probably glad to just sit and relax though many had long journeys home and had to leave so the audience was certainly not all of the delegate but with a few whoops, whistles and general appreciation it seemed as though we went down well.

Not only did we perform at the conference, but we had other representation too. Jane Wrin had an excellent
photographic exhibition showing all day in the main plenary room. Finola Brophy was to have delivered a talk on older lesbians but sadly came down with a nasty bug and was not able to deliver the talk nor sing with us which was a real disappointment. Angela Goodall and Stephen Watson delivered a presentation entitled “Why it’s good to sing in an LGBT choir”.

Pride Parade

The theme of Brighton Pride this year was “Pride and (No) Prejudice” and our float took the form of an H. G. Wells style Time Machine where we paraded our LGBT heroes from the past and though there were no heroes from the future, Lady GaGa looked as thought she might have been with her holographic silver outfit. Some other characters were Elton John, Alexander the Great and Edward Carpenter.

Big thanks of course to our brilliant and tireless cutters, painters, designers, driver, wheel stewards, trainers, Brighton & Hove Council for the grant and everyone else who made the float possible.

You can see a bunch of other photos

Explanation of Costume for Pride 2010: Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga: "Just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time!"

The Bisexual platinum selling pop star from the late 2000's, was named after Queen's Radio Gaga and inspired by Bowie & Madonna. With androgynous and outlandish styling created by her own creative production team, known as the Haus of Gaga. "Whether it's a dress made of Muppets or strategically placed bubbles, Gaga's outré ensembles brought performance art into the mainstream."

Lady Gaga has been an outspoken advocate and activist for LGBT rights throughout her career. She took part in the National Equality Walk in USA, won a GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) award for outstanding music artist and continues to put her time and money where her mouth is in support of LGBT people worldwide.

Rumours abound about Lady Gaga: Is she a boy/a girl/Transgender? Is she Gay/Straight/Bisexual? The truth is she's a Bisexual woman, but her image embraces, welcomes and plays with all these labels. Not just for the column inches (though it must help shift a few singles!) but with sincere respect for fans who see themselves reflected in the fluidity and flamboyance of her act.

I personally chose to dress as Lady Gaga for Pride 2010 because of what she represents to me: Fun, diversity, openness, loyalty, and a creative, fantastical lust for life. She's talented, passionate about her work, open about her sexuality, committed to her LGBT fans and vocal about human & civil rights.

Plus her costumes were crying out to be adapted for a Pride float and I just really wanted to see if I could make a dress out of silver cardboard!

Washington Post
Lady GaGa

Explanation of Costume for Pride 2010: Stephen Watson as Edward Carpenter
Born Brighton August 1844, educated Brighton College. Died Guildford June 1929

Socialist poet, socialist philosopher, anthologist, ‘Gay’ activist,Vegetarian

Instrumental in founding the Fabian Society and Labour Party and a close friend of Walt Whitman

Corresponded with Isadora Duncan, Havelock Ellis, Gandhi, William Morris and John Ruskin

Published 'Civilisation, its cause and cure'

Closer ties with nature and development of our inner nature were his approach and was a strong advocate of sexual freedom, living in a 'gay' community near Sheffield he had a profound effect on D H Lawrence and E M Forster

He introduced sandals to Britain!

Envisaged a future of 'primitive communism', rejecting Victorian industrialism.

Believed that Socialism should not only concern itself with man's outward economic conditions, but also affect a profound change in human consciousness. In this new stage of society Carpenter argued that mankind would return to a primordial state of simple joy: "The meaning of the old religions will come back to him. On the high tops once more gathering he will celebrate with naked dances the glory of the human form and the great processions of the stars, or greet the bright horn of the young moon." (1889) Civilisation: its cause and cure. This brand of "Mystical socialism" inspired him to begin a number of campaigns against air pollution, promoting vegetarianism and opposing vivisection.

In 1891 (age 47) he met George Merrill, a working class man also from Sheffield, and the two men struck up a relationship, eventually moving in together in 1898.[2] Merrill had been raised in the slums of Sheffield and had no formal education. Their relationship endured and they remained partners for the rest of their lives, a fact made all the more extraordinary by the hysteria about alternative sexualities generated by the Oscar Wilde trial of 1895 and the Criminal Law Amendment Bill passed a decade earlier "outlawing all forms of male homosexual contact". Their relationship not only defied Victorian sexual mores but also the highly stratified British class system.

He strongly believed that same-sex attraction was a natural orientation for people of a third sex. His 1908 book on the subject, The Intermediate Sex, would become a foundational text of the LGBT movements of the 20th century.

Sexual education for Carpenter also meant forwarding a clear analysis of the ways in which sex and gender were used to oppress women, contained in Carpenter's radical work Love's Coming-of-Age. In it he argued that a just and equal society must promote the sexual and economic freedom of women. The main crux of his analysis centred on the negative effects of the institution of marriage. He regarded marriage in England as both enforced celibacy and a form of prostitution. He did not believe women would truly be free until a socialist society was established. In contrast to many of his contemporaries, however, this led him to conclude that all oppressed workers should support women's emancipation, rather than to subordinate women's rights to male worker's rights. He remarked, "...there is no solution except the freedom of woman - which means, of course, the freedom of the masses of the people, men and women, and the ceasing altogether of economic slavery. There is no solution which will not include the redemption of the terms free women and free love to their true and rightful significance. Let every woman whose heart bleeds for the sufferings of her sex, hasten to declare herself and to constitute herself, as far as she possibly can, a free woman."

After the First World War he had moved to Guildford, Surrey, with George Merrill.[7] In June 1928, Merrill died suddenly, leaving Carpenter devastated. Carpenter's state of mind is described vividly by the noted political activist G Lowes Dickinson, "Edward's grief when that occurred was overwhelming. I remember him walking on my arm to the cemetery at Guildford where they had buried George a few days before, and where he himself was to lie a year or so later. It was a day of pouring rain, and we stood beside the grave, while Carpenter [cried] again and again, 'They have put him away in the cold ground'."

Harry Hay was so inspired by the work of Carpenter and his prophecy of the coming together of gay people to fight for their rights that he decided to put the words into action by founding the Mattachine Society which started advancing gay rights in America. In Britain, Carpenter’s words were frequently quoted by gay rights activists.

Edward Carpenter Community
The Edward Carpenter Archive

'A Gay Outing' at Charleston

From the web site of Charleston Farmhouse:

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Gay Liberation Foundation. Relish the queer heritage of Charleston with an open house and cocktails on the lawn. A talk with original GLF members, chaired by Simon Watney, the panel includes, gay historian Jeffrey Weeks, lesbian-feminist writer Elizabeth Wilson, critic and transsexual activist Roz Kaveney.

So, as at our last performance the previous year, we performed one half in the beautiful garden and the second in the spacious barn. We reprised a number of songs from our successful Fringe Concert ‘Pop Goes the Rainbow’ and added two brand new songs and a sang a couple of others from our older repertoire.

We were blessed with a gorgeous evening and despite the lack of cup cakes or reliable stage lighting during “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” we gave a performance which we enjoyed and seemed to go down well with the audience who then had a fascinating discussion directly after we left the stage which a number of us stayed to hear.

More photos in the

Rainbow Chorus members at the RAH. Again.

We performed the beautiful Fauré’s Requiem for our own World AIDS Day concert in Brighton in 2006 (see separate entry), but when an offer arose to sing it again as well as the new Carl Jenkins Gloria ...

Above you can see some of the 2550 choristers who attended the RAH to sing Faure's Requiem and to perform the World Premier of Karl Jenkins' Gloria and somewhere in there are 5 Rainbow Chorus members! The photo captures some of the scale of this amazing event.

IDAHOBIT - "Speaking About Silence"

IDAHO - International Day Against Homophobia - exists to provoke action to end Homophobia. This is an inclusive campaign for individuals, campaigners, voluntary organisations, special interest groups, employers, busiensses, politicians and public service providers to get involved and make a difference.

On Monday, the 17th of May 2010, we supported others from our community and beyond by marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in Jubilee Square (Jubilee Street, Brighton, BN1 1GE) outside the central Brighton library which this year was titled “Speaking About Silence”. We performed a little after 7pm. The date, May 17th, commemorates the day in 1990 on which the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of mental diseases.

Pop Goes the Rainbow

It was a first for the choir when we performed for two nights on the 6th and 7th of May at the Unitarian Church in New Road as part of the Brighton Festival Fringe, until then we had never performed on of our own concerts twice in the same place (backing Country Queen Tina C doesn’t count here)!

Before the show

In what could hardly have been a bigger contrast from our performance of ‘
Choral Propaganda’ for 2009’s Brighton Festival Fringe with the stirring messages from its Socialist anthems and Suffragette marching songs, this was a concert with a large dollop of good old fun pop! There was some Beatles, ABBA, Kylie and of course in true Rainbow Chorus style, a few surprises in our box too such as Blur, Coldplay and Leonard Cohen in case you thought that might have been getting too mainstream! We all got glittered up in style where there was a serious risk of the men being outshone in the sparkle stakes but things were evened out in the end when a Liberace waistcoat and a silver two-piece skin tight body suit were spotted (it’s there in the photos).

You can see the programme
here and if you want to see how it all went, then nip over here. If you would like to hear some of what we performed then nip over to our recordings here.

We had the lovely DJs Spinny & Susanna playing some dancing tunes too. The event was also Sign Interpreted by our regular interpreter, the talented Marco Nardi which not only benefitted the deaf community but many hearing people have said how much it added to their enjoyment of the songs with Marco’s sensitive and also humorous signing.

Our second night was performed after the momentous event of the election of the first ever Green MP in the world to be elected under a First Past The Post electoral system when Caroline Lucas won the Brighton Pavilion constituency. Caroline had a ticket to come to hear us that night, but a media avalanche on the evening of the concert scuppered her plans! She was however sneakily present in an ironic dedication to her of ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ and minority parties were incorporated wonderfully obliquely into the song ‘Mrs Robinson’ by Matt and Michael.

We had an absolutely
wonderful time and it looked and sounded as though you did too - so if you were there, thanks for joining in so brilliantly and making it such a great evening!

Bowling with BLAGSS

From the BLAGSS Web site:

On Tuesday 9th March BLAGSS hosted the 2010 Ten-Pin Bowling Extravaganza. 180 players took part in 25 teams representing the LGTB community across Brighton.

This year’s winners were Brighton Bandits and the runners-up were BLAGSS Tennis closely followed by Rainbow Chorus.

Well, sad to say we lost our winner’s title from last year but we remain the highest placed non-sports team taking part since our first outing way back in 2005. As they say, it’s all about the taking part and we all had a great time as you can see below:

The Rainbow Chorus team
Clockwise from the front:- Stephen, Kezia, Michael, Liam, Rob, Adam, Tanya and Gill

Gill gave us some star playing as ever with some great strikes (all 10 skittles felled with one ball). Again. Michael also did us proud too as you can see in this blurry photo (sorry, no flash!)
Michael's 3 strikes
This was taken during the first set of 10 games and during our 2nd set we definitely upped our game but not enough to win. So, who knows - we may slip in some extra practice to keep our collective hand in until next year. Win or not, it’s a load of fun and thanks as ever to BLAGSS for organising the whole thing.