Courtesy of the Columbus Gay Men's Chorus
Sticking true to their slogan, “Voices Raised, Lives Changed,” the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus sets out on their monthly expedition of spreading awareness. The Illuminati, a branch of the main choir, is a group of men who perform at various places of worship in hopes of bridging the gap “between LGBT and religious communities.”
Their next show will be at 8 p.m. Friday in the Temple Beth Shalom in New Albany, Ohio.
Gail Rose, cantorial soloist and music director at the Temple Beth Shalom, said music allows people to express themselves in ways that words can’t and that is exactly what she expects from the performance.
“This is an opportunity for them to educate us about themselves and vice versa,” Rose said. “I look at it as a win-win situation, and what a better way to help understand each other than by music?”
Rose also said she thinks it is a perfect fit between two minority groups and that this common bond will help them to better comprehend each other.
“It’s nice for people to meet all kinds of people and to learn from them and realize that we have more in common with each other than not, and this just provides an opportunity to bring groups of people together for understanding,” Rose said.
Mike Crandall, director of the Illuminati, said he is excited for this particular show because the group typically performs at Christian-based churches. This will be their first experience with a Jewish service.
“I think it’s going to be a learning experience for everybody,” Crandall said. “The guys in the group, I think most of them don’t have a very good understanding of what happens in the Jewish faith and in the Jewish service, and for a lot of us it will be our first time experiencing that, which will be great.”
Crandall said this performance will be especially important because “it will be a two-way street.” He said in addition to the chorus being informed about the religion, it will be nice to reach out to them and help to make their service more memorable.
For Mitch Mathias, a member of the Illuminati, the mission of the group is especially important to him.
“Church was an important part to me growing up, so being able to go into a sacred place and feel comfortable and still be myself, as an openly gay man, is important,” Mathias said. “I also think it is really important to show people in sacred places that gay men are just like everybody else. There are some of us that are good, there are some of us that are bad — we can present very many different faces. One of those faces that we can present in a sacred place is that we’re not just all about sexuality, but spirituality as well.”
The event is free and open to the public.