From Press Release:
For the past five years, the acclaimed Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) has taken an entertaining but serious musical message of tolerance, acceptance and hope into Southland high schools and colleges as part of its highly regarded free outreach program “Alive Music Project” (AMP), which recently received a boost from a range of celebrities who have recorded video endorsements of AMP that are being “rolled out” on GMCLA’s website and elsewhere during March and April.
Among those standing up in support of AMP – whose mission is to open hearts, change minds and end bullying through the universal language of music – are guitarist Slash (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver), singers LeAnn Rimes and Melissa Manchester, comedian Margaret Cho, actors Eddie Cibrian (The Young and the Restless, Sunset Beach), George Takei (Star Trek), Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace), Shenae Grimes (90210, Scream 4) and Chandler Massey (Days of our Lives), fitness expert Craig Ramsay (Thintervention), Tony Award-winning star Levi Kreis (Million Dollar Quartet), and West Hollywood Mayor John Duran. (Videos can be viewed at http://www.gmcla.org/gmcla-amp/)
AMP got another significant boost recently when the California FAIR Education Act was signed into law in 2011, compelling California public schools to include the contributions of persons with disabilities and LGBT people in educational textbooks and social studies curricula. AMP, which was being offered as a free in-school program long before the bill was passed, provides content that satisfies the State-mandated curriculum.
“For years GMCLA has been at the forefront of community outreach efforts promoting acceptance and tolerance,” states GMCLA Chair John Duran, who is also the Mayor of West Hollywood. “We are proud of our valuable and imperative work in this arena. It is also important to note that AMP serves a dual role not only in promoting diversity but as a music education program, providing a vital service to our youth in these times of dwindling funding for the arts in our schools.”
Through AMP, GMCLA reaches thousands of students each year with fundamental information about leading figures in gay history such as writer James Baldwin; composer Billy Strayhorn; and activists Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay person to be elected to public office in California; Frank Kameny, who fought all the way to the Supreme Court after being fired from his job at the Army Map Service in 1957 for being gay, and, although the court denied his petition, the Washington Post proclaimed him “a Founding Father of the historic movement that pulled (homosexuals) out of the closet and into greater acceptance in the United States”; and Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, whose efforts in the 1960’s and 1970’s helped to decriminalize homosexuality and whose same-sex wedding in 2008 became the first in San Francisco after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the state. AMP’s musical presentation also includes material on key events in gay history such as the historic Stonewall Uprising, a series of spontaneous riots in 1969 against a police raid persecuting sexual minorities at the Stonewall Inn in New York City that helped launch the gay rights movement around the globe.
The GMCLA members who perform at AMP assemblies and share their personal stories, represent gay people from every walk of life: artists, teachers, soldiers, bankers, activists, accountants, engineers and elected officials. The goal of AMP, which also includes a discussion component, is to show students – gay or straight – that they can find their own voice through music or whatever medium they choose by staying in school and treating each other with kindness and respect. For many students it also provides the first opportunity to talk with openly gay individuals.
AMP, a multi-pronged program, can be tailored to the specific needs or issues of a school and may include a master class and free transportation and tickets for students to one of GMCLA’s performances with the full 220-member Chorus at such leading Southland venues as the Alex Theatre or Walt Disney Concert Hall.
This spring, GMCLA is presenting AMP at Glendale High School (March 15), Caltech (April 11), Taft High School (April 13) and Fairfax High School (May 22). A first-time visit to Manual Arts High School in South Central is planned for the fall.