The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus (FTLGMC) and the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida (GMCSF) recently announced they will merge.
Talks coincided with the retirement announcement of FTLGMC director Dr. Gary Keating, who founded the chorus in 1986 during the height of the AIDS epidemic. It was the first gay performing arts organization in the state and one of the first in the nation.
In 2010, after Keating had already stepped aside for the first time, a significant number of members left FTLGMC over administrative differences and founded GMCSF, which grew rapidly. The two choruses continued to perform separately in Fort Lauderdale and Keating returned to the FTLGMC podium in 2013 to revive his former ensemble.
In recent years, the two choruses have performed together several times. The GMCSF welcomed FTLGMC and the Miami Gay Men’s Chorus as guest artists for their June 2019 concert paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The South Florida and Fort Lauderdale choruses have also sung together at local community events and memorials.
“The time is right to unify our choral community, which has an abundance of notable talent and dedication," said Justin Knight, FLGMC president. "The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus has entertained for 36 years and is proud of its legacy under the direction of its founder, Gary Keating.”
Keating’s final performance will be a Dec. 3 holiday concert and FTLGMC will welcome members of the GMCSF to sing with them at Fort Lauderdale United Church of Christ.
“We applaud Gary Keating’s vision and commitment to keep the music alive while we also thank the community for supporting both choral groups over the years,” said Mark Kent, GMCSF executive director. "Both organizations have simultaneously served the community well, but now the focus will be on GMCSF, which continues to expand its reach and impact on new audiences. With the LGBTQ+ community’s liberties under threat in this state and across the nation, we have decided to stand together in strength and sing to protect our future.”
The GMCSF is under the direction of Gabe Salazar and, with 150 members, is the largest gay men’s chorus in the southeastern U.S. GMCSF will welcome members of FTLGMC to join them for a song at their holiday concerts on Friday, Dec. 16 at Sunshine Cathedral and Sunday, Dec. 18 at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood.
The combined choruses will perform as the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida beginning on Jan. 1.