A Prayer for the Children

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

If you are of a certain age – somewhere around mine, say – you probably wrestled with your sexual orientation as you came of age, much as I did. Many of those in my generation worried whether our parents would accept us if we told them we were gay or lesbian. Many of us felt profoundly alone in being attracted to members of our own sex, and most of us feared that our classmates in school would pick on or ridicule us if we revealed our secret. For some, these fears led to years spent living a lie; for others, relocation to another city where they could be who they were without reproach; for a bold few, to coming out where they were and defying the world to stop them; and for a few tortured souls, a premature exit from this world.

Things have gotten better for LGBT youth since then, as the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus’ recent visit to Cinnaminson High School attests. Being queer in one’s teenage years is no longer an automatic ticket to ostracism, loneliness and despair. But things haven’t gotten better everywhere, or fast enough. There are still too many youth like Tyler Clementi, the New Jersey college student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge when he realized his roommate was making a spectacle of his sexuality, and news stories from all over the country this fall underscore the emotional and physical threats too many LGBT youth still face.

It is for boys and girls like these, and for their families, that PGMC is performing “Cherish the Child” this Saturday. Like most LGBT choruses, we have used the power of song to make the world a better place for all over the years, but rarely have we done so in such an emotionally moving way.

At our rehearsal on Wednesday night, we got to hear our special guest performer, CBS3 reporter Pat Ciarrocchi, read the role of Mary Griffith, the California mother whose journey from blindness to enlightenment is recounted in our concert’s featured work, “Prayers for Bobby.” Like Griffith, Pat is the mother of a gay son, but unlike her, she knew from the beginning that her son was a child of God who needed no cure because he had no affliction. It was because she understood what Mary went through to come to that realization about her son Bobby that she eagerly accepted our invitation to perform at our concert, and that understanding shone through in her reading of the part.

That transcendent bond between two similar but different women is something I cannot describe in words. You will simply have to come to the concert to see and hear it expressed. I can assure you it will be a touching, moving, and ultimately uplifting experience.

The Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus will perform “Cherish the Child” on Saturday, April 16, at 2 and 8 p.m. at the Temple Performing Arts Center, 1837 N. Broad St. Tickets are $20 and $30 in advance and $25 and $30 at the door. Advance purchase tickets are still available through the TPAC website, and tickets can be purchased at the door. For more information, visit www.pgmc.org.

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