Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



Chicago Gay Men's Chorus leader speaks on group's diversity, 'Sporty Forty'
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 1518 times since Tue Aug 29, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

The Chicago Gay Men's Chorus (CGMC) is marking its 40th-anniversary season this year, and will start this milestone on Sept. 15-16 with "Sporty Forty," an event that is layered in meanings involving stereotypes and the group's own history of having sung for almost every local professional sports team.

During these four decades of existence, CGMC's performances have included original musical revues; five popular productions celebrating the Sidetrack showtune experience; full-length book musicals; and much more. The chorus has also traveled across the United States and Canada, and has brought choruses from across the United States and Europe to sing with the group in Chicago as well.

Recently, CGMC Executive Director Kevin Corbett talked with Windy City Times about a variety of topics, including the group's increasing diversity, the chorus' purpose and, of course, this upcoming, historic season.

Note: This conversation was edited for clarity and length.

Windy City Times: I wanted to discuss your background first. You joined the chorus in 2015 and I saw you lived in Maine. So you moved here directly from there?

Kevin Corbett: So I actually moved to Chicago from West Virginia, where I'm originally from. But I had been in London previously. I [received] my master's degree there and I did some work for a theater company afterward. Once my visa ran out, they were, like, "See ya!"

I started working for the chorus as an intern in 2015.

WCT: What would you say are a couple of the biggest changes you've seen in the chorus over the years?

KC: Over the years, I've seen a growth in the number of members. Also, the makeup of the chorus has greatly changed since 2020; it's almost like there's been a turnover with our membership. And our members are skewing younger and more diverse regarding gender and sexuality. The chorus is also nice for people who are new to the city, as there's a social element. But the chorus growing is the biggest change I think I've seen so far—and we're excited.

It's great to see the organization change and take shape, as it's 40 years old. The chorus was established in 1983, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Gay choruses started to pop up all over the United States and the world because they were bringing attention to something no one was paying attention to. That's what we're here to do: Stand up and sing out.

And it's exciting to see people be excited to join the organization and form a family. It really is about community.

WCT: You've touched upon this, but [queer] choruses have provided inclusion and reflected the politics of the times. So it seems you feel this mission is largely the same.

KC: I do, but I think it changes a little bit as we take on different issues and make sure that voices in other groups are heard. We're here to inspire change and build community but we're also entertaining and enlightening our audiences.

So when you come to a CGMC show, you're going to see some campy, fun stuff—don't get me wrong. But we're also going to talk about the various issues we face as a community. Now, we're seeing more trans members join and we want to discuss issues affecting them as well as how we come together as the LGBTQIA+ community.

WCT: I found it intriguing that CGMC's website actually shows the demographics of its members regarding a variety of factors. And, as you've pointed out, the largest contingent seems to be people ages 20-29, which surprised me.

KC: Isn't that crazy? But that's the growth, right? That's what we're seeing a lot more of. I think our artistic director, Jimmy [Morehead], has done a really good job; he's such a great musical force, especially with the programming. When you come to the organization to sing, you don't necessarily need to know how to read music; you just need to be able to carry a tune and he will guide you along.

There are a lot of things about the chorus that I think are attractive to a younger audience—and I think the musical styles and selections are also part of it. We will sing choral pieces but we also do musical theater and a lot of different genres. It's not just one thing that makes it attractive to younger people.

WCT: So who comes up with the themes of the shows? "Sporty Forty" marks the chorus' anniversary—but it might be considered a wink to defying the stereotype that LGBTQ+ people don't like sports.

KC: That's Jimmy who does that. He comes up with the whole picture for the season and then he comes up with each of the shows. So this season is a celebration of CGMC.

It's really interesting. This chorus has been hired this past summer by several of the sports teams for their Pride nights—the Chicago Fire, the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Sky and the Chicago Blackhawks (back in March). And a lot of our members are on sports teams. I think "Sporty Forty" is a little tongue-in-cheek but there's something for everyone.

We're also very excited about the upcoming holiday show, "The big 4-0, ho, ho!" I love that title! We're going to be at the Auditorium Theatre on Friday, Dec. 8; it's a huge milestone and we really want to throw a big celebration. And what I'm working toward is providing some free tickets to the LGBTQ+ community, whether it's through organizations or youth groups.

And next year we have "Lipstick & Lyrics: Forty and Foxy." That's our live-singing drag show and that will happen in February and March. At the last L&L, we sold out all six performances, so we're moving to a larger venue: the Center on Halsted space.

And we're wrapping it up with "Party Like It's 1983" in May 2024. We're going to actually be at the Studebaker Theater in the Fine Arts Building, and it's a gorgeous space. So we're moving around and trying different venues. We're always searching for new audiences and that's something the choir wants to work on: the diversification of our audience.

WCT: You mentioned reaching out to different audiences, so you've performed in the South and West sides of the city?

KC: Yes. We've performed at the Beverly Arts Center; we have been since I've joined and we've forged a relationship with the audience down there, especially for our holiday shows. But I would love to reach into communities we don't [traditionally] have a reach into, and that includes more South and West Side venues. I would love to do some sort of free, introductory event. We need to have diversity out there.

WCT: This is a question I've asked several people this year. What is it like, for you, to be part of the LGBTQ+ community in today's America?

KC: Wow—that's a big question.

So I grew up in rural West Virginia and it was very religious, very Appalachian. For someone who was gay, it was a stifling environment—and I went to a Baptist church. It was tough to have the realization [about being gay], and not be able to talk about it and explore it. It took me a while to be okay with the fact that I'm gay, and it took a while to get over the trauma of people telling you that you're not supposed to be something.

So what's great about this question, Andrew, is that when I joined the chorus in 2015, I had no sense of community—until I started working for CGMC. Then, I understood what it was like to be part of a community that stands together against adversity and hatred. And it does it in such a nonviolent, fun way.

LGBTQ+ people are still under attack. We're seeing rights being stripped away and laws being rolled back. It feels like we're going back to witch hunts; it's terrifying. So I think an organization like CGMC is needed now more than ever.

And we need to tell other stories in our community. We're not just gay men. We have straight women, lesbians and transgender people—and they're all facing their own issues. So I'm happy that CGMC is here to tell their stories. We're better together, as cheesy as that sounds.

The Chicago Gay Men's Chorus' "Sporty Forty" will run Sept. 15-16 at Mayslake Peabody Estate, in Oak Brook; and at the Center on Halsted, in Chicago. Tickets and more information are available at To subscribe for the whole season, visit

This article shared 1518 times since Tue Aug 29, 2023
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

SHOWBIZ John Waters, Madonna, Miriam Margoyles, Angelica Ross, 'Cassandro'
Openly gay film director John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Serial Mom, Cry-Baby) received his star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, The Hollywood Reporter noted. (Actors Ricki Lake and Mink Stole as well as photographer Greg Gorman were ...

Gay News

Pritzker and Brady-Davis honored at Planned Parenthood gala
On the evening of Sept. 14, Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (PPIA) and Planned Parenthood Illinois Action PAC (PPIA PAC) organizations presented their annual Fighting Forward Gala fundraiser. The event shone ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Kim Petras, LGBTQ+ movies, TIFF, canceled shows, yachts
Video below - Ahead of her Feed the Beast world tour, Grammy-winning international trans pop singer/songwriter Kim Petras has shared reimagined, symphonic, seven-piece string-ensemble performances of fan favorites from her debut album Feed ...

Gay News

THEATER Queer actor Kyle Patrick reflects on leading 'American Psycho: The Musical'
American Psycho—both the Bret Easton Ellis novel and the Mary Harron-directed film led by Christian Bale—would seem ripe for a musical treatment, given the omnipresent campy elements (despite, or maybe because of, the gore). And, in ...

Gay News

SAG-AFTRA and WGA join GLAAD in releasing Studio 11th Responsibility Index
--From a press release - Hollywood—Sept. 14, 2023 — GLAAD released its annual Studio Responsibility Index in a joint press event in Hollywood alongside the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio ...

Gay News

Chicago Opera Theater starts 50th-anniv. season with 'Soldier Songs'
Chicago Opera Theater (COT) is kicking off its 50th-anniversary season with David T. Little's Grammy-nominated Soldier Songs—described as "a haunting, heavy-metal infused theatrical cantata about the psychological impact of war." ...

Gay News

Porchlight Music Theatre's announces 29th season
--From a press release - This past Friday at our special event, Porchlight ICONS: Celebrating Ben Vereen, we shared the exclusive announcement of our 29th Season! The new season launches with The Cole Porter Festival - A Celebration of the Man ...

Gay News

HRC to host Chicago dinner, auction to support response to national state of LGBTQ+ emergency
--From a press release - Chicago, IL. - September 8th - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Chicago Steering Committee is proud to host its Annual - Human Rights Campaign Chicago Fundraising Dinner and Auction!! The Dinner and Auction will be held ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ media welcome Press Forward nat'l media funds for local news innovation, survival
--From a press release - [CHICAGO] – Members of News Is Out, a collaborative of six legacy LGBTQ+ media organizations, have expressed support and excitement about the newly announced national Press Forward effort to support local media in the United States. ...

Gay News

THEATER Jim Henson production in Chicago on Nov. 14-Dec. 31
A live theatrical adaptation of Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas is making its Chicago debut Nov. 14-Dec. 31, at the Studebaker Theater at the historic Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Broadway World revealed. ...

Gay News

AIDS Run & Walk Chicago 2023 to draw thousands to Soldier Field on Sept. 30
The AIDS Run & Walk Chicago returns to Chicago's Soldier Field on Saturday, Sept. 30 to help create equity and justice across Chicagoland and raise awareness and funds for individuals who are living with or vulnerable ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Sex Education' star, Rotten Tomatoes, Jessica Lange, Queer/Art
Video below - Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa officially came out during an interview with Elle UK, according to Out. "I remember being at Manchester Pride, going through the streets with all my boys, shaking my cha-chas, living it ...

Gay News

Theater Review: A Taste of Soul brings music and food center stage
By Brian Kirst - We all know the sluggish quagmire of weekday work mornings. Often the only thing that gets us moving and able to face the day is our favorite songs. While all of the Black Ensemble Theater productions ...

Gay News

NLGJA: Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists names Hall of Fame honorees
--From a press release - Washington, D.C. — Today, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists announced that co-publishers Susan Horowitz and Jan Stevenson, publisher Franco Stevens, and journalist James B. Stewart are the 2023 inductees ...

Gay News

On the (gay) horizon: Center on Halsted marks 50 years
In 1973, a group of Chicagoans organized a telephone hotline, which they named Helpline, allowing the community to more easily find and assist one another. This was a time when LGBTQ+ bars were still regularly raided ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.