Feels Like Flying: The Day After

Imagine a welcoming, intimate, theatrical space where people of various stripes, orientations and political persuasions gathered for a few hours — twice in one weekend — to celebrate, sing, dance, clap, laugh, and cry in cool comfort away from the desert heat.

How is that possible in 2022? Glee, Broadway, and Disney tunes — delivered spectacularly by the Phoenix Gay Men’s Chorus and a duo of delicious drag queens — were the musical culprits.

It happened June 4 and 5 at the gorgeous and resonant Tempe Center for the Arts before two raucous and appreciative audiences.

Of course, I’m biased. If you follow my blog or have read my latest book, you know I sing second tenor with the Phoenix Gay Men’s Chorus.

Over the past several months, about forty of us — led by artistic director Marc and principal accompanist Darlene — prepared diligently for our Homecoming performances, celebrating the chorus’ 30th anniversary.

In addition to rehearsing in person regularly and navigating the relentless physical and mental challenges of Covid, we listened to our audio files at home.

We practiced in our homes and in our cars. Then, we did it all over again. The final week of preparation is a bit hellish, but in the words of Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive. I’ve learned to pace myself.

That’s what it takes to memorize a gleeful mash-up of music. Not to mention the choralography and costuming. (“There were costumes?” you ask. Please … we’re talking about a gay chorus!)

Standing on the stage Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, I felt a myriad of emotions as I channeled Madonna in my red choir robe. Exhilaration and relief reigned during my Like a Prayer solo ….

“I have no choice. I hear your voice. Feels like flying.”

Knowing my husband Tom, older son Nick, and an entourage of faithful friends were in the audience spurred me on. Plus, I didn’t want to disappoint my friends on stage. They’ve all become important to me.

I shudder when I think of what Tom and I endured nearly five years ago … surviving my heart attack and our move across country. What pulled us through?

It’s been our resiliency and the personal connections we’ve made. With those in the chorus, kind neighbors, gentle yoga with like-minded souls on Friday mornings, endless work out sessions with friends at Club SAR, and a fun collection of experiences with other Arizona writers, readers, artists, and film lovers. They all purchased tickets for the Homecoming concerts.

I feel so thankful. I feel so much love.

Occasionally, someone will ask me why I sing with a gay chorus. Certainly, it is about the music. But it goes much deeper for me and for many of the men of all ages who I perform with.

In this crazy world, we all need to feel safe. To find a place that feels like home. To be who we are. To share our gifts. To feel valued and loved. To push beyond our comfort zones. To go after that next solo or simply be content to be appreciated as one of many voices.

Whatever the case, the members of the Phoenix Gay Men’s Chorus provide that encouragement and support for each other. On that note, there is one behind-the-scenes moment I need to share from my concert weekend.

One of our five Like a Prayer soloists missed the entire weekend of performances due to his partner’s sudden illness. Naturally, he was deeply disappointed. We all missed him.

About ninety minutes before our Sunday concert, as we began to warm our voices, I captured this photo and sent it to him. This was my vantage point of the theatre from the top riser for most of the weekend.

It was my way of telling Brad …

“I have no choice. I hear your voice. Feels like flying.”

13 thoughts on “Feels Like Flying: The Day After

  1. What? No youtube link? I totally get why you’d want to be in a gay men’s chorus, and suddenly, it occurs to me that I might find comfort joining in with a group with tourette. Hmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, something for you to consider, Jeff. On the link question, we aren’t able to share due to copyright constraints. Though it may be packaged and sold in some type of format.


  2. The entire audience responded with happy appreciation and entertained applause. You all made a huge effort and the result was fabulous: voices, costumes, choralography, silliness and reflection.

    I was so proud of your first-ever solo. And happy to see you so animated and enjoying yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark … without you, the other 2nd Tenors, and the rest of the Chorus, this weekend would not have been possible. It was such an outstanding experience for me personally. Not just as a Virgin but, living life to the fullest, you made my day and weekend. Thanks for your support. Can’t wait to see what the Fall will have in store for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mark,

    After your energized and delightful concert, I was flying high on good vibes. Many thanks to you and all the Gay Men’s Chorus for a fabulous afternoon.

    Love and hugs, Carol

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The sense of community experienced when singing as part of a choir, is one of the most important reasons to join a choir. Being part of a group working towards a common goal, and having a goal as wonderful as creating beautiful music together, is a uniquely satisfying experience. The friendships formed when singing together in a choir can last a lifetime! Thanks for sharing and have a good day šŸ™‚ Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

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