Featured photo: Triad Pride Men’s Chorus performs in High Point (photo by Paul Musick)

“I think there is so much power in music and how it can translate messages across cultures and communities to one another,” says Terrell Dungee, a member of Triad Pride Men’s Chorus. “It’s always been a goal of our chorus to bring a sense of awareness to LGBTQIA+ people in the community. Highlighting their everydayness of being folks who enjoy song and performing for the fellow community.”

On Sunday, June 4, a large gathering at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in High Point hosted a musical troupe with a mission. The Triad Pride Men’s Chorus and Triad Pride Women’s Chorus had come together in the face of a sharp uptick in hateful legislation against LGBTQIA+ people.

“In the face of all these attacks against queer and trans folks in the community,” said Dungee, “we wanted to lend our voices and proclaim that we’re here to stay. That we’re a part of this community, with humanity with reliance and joy and that’s what this concert is about celebrating.”

Their goal was a weeklong singing tour around the Triad to spread a message of love and acceptance. Their roster ranged from protest songs to queer anthems to music created by queer artists.

“One of the songs that we’ll be performing is ‘This Is Me’ from The Greatest Showman,” Dungee said. “And the real core message of that song is that we are real, we are unique and it’s something we won’t hide from. We actually want to have that be celebrated and the song is in defiance of them being oppressed and that’s kind of how I view this chorus being out here and making joyful noise together as an act of pushing back against oppression.”

Churchgoers and other event attendees greeted them with smiles and words of encouragement before the show as they entered in matching, sparkly black outfits.

Triad Pride Women’s Chorus performs in High Point (photo by Paul Musick)

Lea Henderson Lagesse, Director of Development for Triad Pride Women’s Chorus, expresses how they have so far felt so welcomed, having performed at Well-Spring Retirement Community the day prior and set to perform at Trinity Presbyterian the following Friday.

“We’ve had wonderful churches and organizations that have been very interested in having us in their space and are welcoming and want to bring us into their conversations,” Lagesse said. “It provides a sense of hope I feel for the community and for the generations in the Triad area. You really see a bunch of people from all walks of life come together to support Triad Pride and their arts programs. Being involved in that really gives me a lot of hope.”

In between each song, members of the chorus were given the chance to tell  stories of their experiences living as or having a loved one being LGBTQIA+. These ranged from the funny to the heartwarming to the sadness of experiencing rejection and discrimination. One man spoke of being bullied throughout school for being gay. Years later, he saw his bully bagging groceries at a supermarket and decided to forgive him because he felt that nobody should be judged for what they did as a kid. One woman shared about the pain of losing her mother. Her religious father was deeply in grief, but only a month later, he attended her wedding to another woman with open arms. With each story, candor was rewarded with applause from the congregation, just as they cheered for the beautiful melodies of their singing.

“Our goal is to share that we won’t go back; we’re singing songs of empowerment but also sharing stories about our growing and facing obstacles for being a part of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Janet Villas, President of the Triad Pride Women’s Chorus. “We’ll be telling stories of how we were forced to overcome things that straight people never have to deal with and how we’ve been able to persevere and feel the love and share the love.”

Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.

We believe that reporting can save the world.

The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.

All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.

⚡ Join The Society ⚡