Introducing the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus’ 43rd Season
The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus will start their 43rd season just in time for the holidays. I spoke to Ramon Feliciano, a singer with the chorus, to learn more about the season and what it’s like to be part of this unique community.
The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus (TCGMC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) volunteer community chorus whose mission is “Gay Men Building Community Through Music.” They not only want to provide rewarding musical experiences to members and audiences alike, but also hope to enact social change.
TCGMC celebrates diversity and uses their music to educate and heal, working toward the elimination of homophobia and intolerance via community outreach.
“The Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus is not only a singing organization, but a community enjoined by values of courage, authenticity, joy, respect, and accountability,” said Feliciano. “It embraces cultural diversity and attempts to cater to the needs of each member.”
How did Feliciano get started singing with TCGMC? “I’m a nurse from the Philippines,” he said. “Like any other Filipino, I have the American Dream.” The immigration process took ten years for Ramon, but he finally arrived in Minnesota in March 2019.
Adjusting to life in a new country and assimilating into a new culture wasn’t easy for Feliciano. He felt homesick, and to help overcome it, he surrounded himself with people outside of his close and familiar Filipino community.
“I met my partner, Chris, who knew about my theater background and must have heard me singing in the bathroom,” says Feliciano. “He encouraged me to join TCGMC.”
Feliciano was hesitant at first, because — despite his theater background — he wasn’t very confident in his singing abilities. But he auditioned anyway.
“Receiving the news that I got in was exhilarating yet terrifying,” he says. “I was a bit intimidated the first time I walked into the halls of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church not only because I’m in a room with a hundred plus gay men, but also how spectacular they are when they start singing.”
Feliciano was anxious during the first few weeks, but as time passed, the feelings of intimidation were easily replaced with comfort.
“I was able to make connections and found everyone accommodating and supportive,” he says. “I was surrounded by humans who shared their experiences and allowed me to share my own. I was in the midst of people that are accepting and all embracing. Then and there, I thought, ‘I am home.’”
Feliciano is the eldest among his siblings and grew up in a Filipino and devoutly Catholic household. While he had the most loving parents who did their best for him to help him be successful, Feliciano says he hadn’t fully embraced his true identity.
“I never spoke about my sexuality, as I was afraid of disappointing people and being rejected for not meeting societal norms,” says Feliciano. “Joining TCGMC is my way to come to terms as to ‘who I am.’”
Feliciano describes TCGMC as “a home that celebrates, uplifts, and accepts.” It’s about so much more than singing — it provided Feliciano with a venue to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community, and especially to be more comfortable and confident in expressing himself.
“This self-expression became more exciting and meaningful because it is through art, through music and songs,” says Feliciano.
“In my first year as a singing member, I did see that there is purpose and direction in everything we do,” says Feliciano. Learning and mastering songs has been thrilling for him, many of which he’s heard for the first time in TCGMC and some that are even composed by members of the chorus.
Feliciano also appreciates the many stories of members whose lives were changed for the better thanks to joining the chorus. Singing with TCGMC provides a venue to have fun, socialize, and contribute to society through concert proceeds.
What is Feliciano and his fellow TCGMC singers looking forward to most about the upcoming season? “TCGMC has mastered the craft of utilizing the power of music to convey messages that would touch the heart and uplift the spirit,” says Feliciano. “I’m very much looking forward to another season of that.”
Being in healthcare, Feliciano connects to other people through his hands, through physical touch that hopefully provides calm and support. Being in TCGMC means he can touch other peoples’ lives through music, which he hopes will “soothe the pain and anxieties of the soul.”
This year, the chorus will have three performances:
They’ll Hear You from the Stars:
Dec. 8 & 9, 2023; Fri. & Sat. @ 7:30pm; Sat. matinee @ 2pm
Westwood Lutheran Church • St. Louis Park
Built on the concept of the power of voices, and the words we use to wield change and action.
God Save the Queens:
March 22 & 23, 2024; Fri. & Sat. @ 7:30pm
Ted Mann Concert Hall • Minneapolis
(Reserved Seating for Season Subscribers, GA for single ticket-buyers)
Taking you across the Pond with a British pop playlist you’ll love – with a twist. All of the featured music is from queer artists!
This Is Me:
June 21-22, 2024; Fri. & Sat. @ 7:30pm
St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church • Mahtomedi
Combining choral music and dance to de-stigmatize topics surrounding body image in a powerhouse collaboration with award-winning James Sewell Ballet and See Change Treble Choir. Presenting our latest commission, “Every BODY.”
Feliciano is particularly excited about the season finale, This Is Me.
“Society has inculcated into each and every one of us the perception of a ‘perfect body or look.’ This can lead to deep-seated insecurities and discontent for some people,” Feliciano says. “I’m looking forward to being part of another concert that sends out a message to embrace our imperfections and flaws. I’m enthusiastic to be part of a production that resonates with the ideas of self-acceptance and self-love.”