June 2 2010 12:00 AM

Gay Men’s Chorus salutes the sounds of the 1960s


Audiences will recognize many of the 1960s hits featured in the Greater Lansing Gay Men’s Chorus’ annual spring concert, “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” The concert, named for a song in the Broadway musical “Hairspray,” will feature songs likes “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “My Girl,” and “Unchained Melody."

The concert is just one of the many the GLGMC has held since it was founded in 1988. Chorus member Sam Eagan said one of the main goals of the chorus is to bring music and entertainment to the area and paint the gay community in a good light.

“I think sometimes the gay community has a negative image, but this just shows a positive image of Lansing’s diverse community,” he said. “We’re just one part of that diversity that wants to show that it’s just not people who go to the bar all the time. We collect canned goods for the needy, sing songs that are fun and can touch people. I guarantee ‘Unchained Melody’ will put a tear in someone’s eye.”

Former Lansing Association for Human Rights communication director Larry Barnard came up for the idea for the chorus in 1989, with the intent of bringing together a musical group where the fact that all the members were gay was just a side factor. Ken Richmond, a keyboardist, was one of the first three members and is still a member of the group today.

“It’s one part of my life I have just not been able to totally give up,” he said. “Partially because I am a founding member, and partially because it’s a good camaraderie of people.”

After Barnard passed away in 1990, — only three months after the GLGMC’s first performance — the chorus was left in Richmond’s hands.

Since it first sang for the Lansing Association of Human Rights Christmas potluck, the group has expanded and now performs at many events in the Lansing area throughout the year, as well as doing community service projects.

Richmond said he believes that Barnard’s original wishes for the chorus were more than fulfilled.

“Now with us doing some community work, I think that has actually surpassed Larry’s long-term wishes,” he said. “We are now a musical group that just happens to be gay or gay-friendly.”

Eagan said he joined the group when he came to Lansing. He had been involved in the choir in high school and college, and was interested in getting back into music as well as meeting new people.

“I have developed some very close friends through this,” he said. “I am part of creating the show, and it’s totally changed my life and my view of Lansing. It made me feel at home. I had never been that active in the gay community and now I am, it’s just a great group of people from all different backgrounds. It’s a great way to learn about people, meet people, develop great friendships and sing and have fun doing it.”

‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’

Lansing Gay Men’s Chorus 8 p.m. Friday, June 4 and Saturday, June 5
Dart Auditorium, Lansing Community College Suggest donation $10-$25 www.glgmc.org