San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus promises Park City audiences that ‘It Gets Better’
What: It Gets Better Project and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
When: 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9
Where: Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
Additional ‘It Gets Better’ events
• ‘It Gets Better’ journey
Before it’s performed on the Eccles Center stage on Saturday, the Park City Institute and San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, invites the public to a behind-the-scenes look at the theatrical production of “It Gets Better” on Wednesday, Feb. 6. Attendees will learn about the development of the live stage work with members of the troupe who will share the brief but powerful history of the It Gets Better Project. The event will run from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Mega-Genius Supply Store and IQHQ, 435 Swede Alley. Space is limited. RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
• LGBTQ+ Empowerment
The cast of “It Gets Better” invites the public to a a safe workshop on Thursday, Feb. 7, to help participants of all experience levels understand the difference between gender and sexuality toward being effective allies and ally role models for others. Attendees will also learn more about the mission of the It Gets Better Project, and how it can impact the community. The event will run from 10-11:30 a.m. at J Go Gallery in the Rockwell Room, 268 Main St. Space is limited. RSVP by emailing email@example.com.
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus wants to tell Utah families that “It Gets Better,” and it plans to do that with its upcoming Saturday concert at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
The performance, a collaboration with the It Gets Better Project and Speak Theatre Arts, will include choir works and a more theatrical element, said Chris Verdugo, executive director of the chorus.
“This particular show features six actors and singers, and a musical director who pops into the show as well,” Verdugo said. “The cast is composed of four gay men, one lesbian and two straight actors. We wanted to represent a broad spectrum of our community.”
The outreach that’s attached to the performance is also not centered on the gay male according to Verdugo.
“We tackle the issue of bullying, and one of the results of excessive bullying — suicide,” he said. “We want to show how to have a conversation so that young LGBTQ youth feel empowered enough to make the right decisions and reach out to the right people.”
The production is built on 10 vignettes that run between four to eight minutes long. Thehistory of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is the thread that ties the stories together, Verdugo said.
The chorus formed in 1978, and on the day of its fourth rehearsal, Mayor George Moscone and city supervisor Harvey Milk, who were both openly gay, were assassinated by former official Dan White. The chorus’ first public performance was during a candlelight vigil that followed the shootings.
“What’s important about the (It Gets Better) performances is that the show is based on stories and videos of real people,” Verdugo said. “These stories are about the challenges that young people and adults have had when they or their children come out and get bullied. The show is about the subsequent journey of acceptance, empowerment and love.”
Verdugo, who greenlit the project in 2012, knows first hand how important it is to perform in Utah.
“Our third stop on the tour that year was in Ogden, and while we had an amazing experience, we also saw first hand what LGBTQ youth in Utah go through,” he said.
At that time, Utah had one of the highest LGBTQ homeless rates in the country, and one of the highest LGBTQ adolescent suicide rates, according to Verdugo.
“That is part of the reason we really made a concerted effort to launch this revamped production in Utah,” he said. “We feel we have roots in Utah and it made sense for us to return there.”
During the week leading up to the Eccles Center performance, members of the chorus and cast will facilitate round-table discussions with Gay-Straight Alliance student groups from area schools, an anti-bullying assembly at Park City High School, share their personal stories with members of the community and facilitate a World Cafe conversation about creating greater connections and support for the LGBTQIA community, according to a Park City Institute press release.
The cast and singers will also host an LGBTQ allyship workshop for adults that will aim to help them understand the differences between gender and sexuality and how to be effective allies from 10-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb 7.
For information about the workshop, contact, Taylor Flanders by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vedugo hopes these outreach programs will shed light on LGBTQ and bullying issues, especially during the divided state of the world.
“What it’s going to take (to make a change) is really an acknowledgment that our young people are whole and that there is nothing wrong with them,” he said. “I’m a man of faith who speaks with God every morning, and I truly believe that we are born perfectly the way we are.
“It took me a long time to take that journey, and I don’t want young people to have to take that long,” Verdugo said.
He said the resolution to the division is a matter of respect, acceptance and love.
“These sentiments start at home, and the adults need to rise up,” Verdugo said. “I don’t know how certain adults can live with the fact that a young person gets thrown out of their home because of who they love. The fact that they love should be more than enough for anyone.
“We don’t have to agree, but we can accept.”
Richard Pohl painted a mural of McPolin Barn between ‘skiing and living’