History

After attending a San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus concert in the spring of 1980, Portland native Mark Richards asked friends Mark Jones and Gary Coleman if they thought Portland would support a similar Chorus. An ad in the local gay newspaper proved there was interest, and – with just 26 singers – the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus was born, one of the first gay men’s choruses in the nation.

Very soon, the gay community was facing a crisis: AIDS. PGMC, which quickly grew to more than a hundred members, found itself an emotional, spiritual, and social oasis for the community, and many of its performances were at funerals for members, friends, and family. AIDS took its toll on membership, as well; the Chorus shrank to less than 30 members during the heights of the crisis.

Today, PGMC is a thriving arts organization comprised of over 140 singers. The Chorus performs to packed houses in Portland and beyond, and considers outreach to be an important part of its mission. The Chorus will be the first gay performing group to tour China in the fall of 2018.

Outreach

PGMC has performed throughout North America from Vancouver, B.C. to Montreal, Miami, Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. We have also performed extensively throughout the Pacific Northwest and Mountain West, with outreach performances in sites as varied as Ashland, Bend, Stayton, Roseburg, Eugene, Grants Pass, The Dalles, Pendleton, and Salem, in Oregon; Vancouver, Tri-cities, and Longview, in Washington; and Boise, Idaho.

Leadership

We take our leadership role seriously. When PGMC was awarded the Portland State University College of Urban and Public Affairs “Urban Pioneer Award,” PGMC “has made a significant difference not only within the cultural landscape of Portland, but across the region”. It was noted that “their voice has affirmed the worth of the LGBT community, while changing the hearts and minds of all those who have listened to their affirming songs.”

Community

Over the years, PGMC has supported many non-profit organizations in our community by performing for their benefit. Such groups include the Cascade AIDS Project, OHSU, Portland State University, Equality Foundation, Our House, Metropolitan Community Church, Christ Church, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal. It has also performed for the Inaugural Celebrations for numerous state elected officials including Governor Roberts and Kitzhaber to name just a few.

A History of Highlights and Successes

  • Founded in April 1980, with first concert held on June 19 of the same year at the Metropolitan Community Church in Portland, Oregon
  • Fourth oldest gay-identified chorus in the country; sang at the West Coast Chorale festival and the Gay Games in San Francisco (1982)
  • Has commissioned and performed over 80 new works of music over the past 37 years, including:
    • Millennium Mosaic (2000) taken from the lived experiences of LGBT youth, this amazing collaboration poignantly expresses the hope, joy, and (most of all) the sense of aloneness experienced in the loves of these youth
    • BraveSouls & Dreamers (2007) examines the consequences of war and the need for peace. In September 2011, PGMC traveled to New York City to represent the State of Oregon with a Brave Souls performance at St. John the Divine Cathedral commemorating the tenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center
    • A Brighter Day (2015) written in celebration of PGMC’s 35th anniversary this piece celebrates the lived experiences of the over 1400 men and women who have been a part of our legacy
  • First LGBT chorus invited to sing at an inaugural event of a major elected official: Secretary of State (later Governor) Barbara Roberts (1984)
  • Performed in national and international venues, including Vancouver BC, Montreal, Miami, Denver, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington DC
  • Produced eight (8) professional recordings including our most recent:
    • Sing & Swing the Season – (2011)
    • The Young Person’s Guide to the Gay Men’s Chorus – (2012)
  • Awarded the Urban Pioneer Award by the College of Urban and Public Affairs for our outreach performances to rural communities throughout Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Other recognitions include the “Lucille Hart Service Award” and a “Special Recognition Award” from the City of Portland Human Rights Commission, to highlight just a few.
  • Performed at the 2016 TEDxPortland Conference in the Keller Auditorium in Portland
  • Over 1400 men and women, past and present, have been members of the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus since its inception and contributed of their time and talents
  • First Gay Chorus invited to sing the National Anthem at the NBA Portland Trailblazer game (November, 15, 2016)