I am a singing member of HMCKC. When I joined in 2007, it was part of my coming out journey. I had a few LGBTQ friends, but I wasn’t yet out in my daily life or to most of my family, friends from school, or co-workers. So walking into the first rehearsal was a step toward being more fully myself. Within a year I became involved in the Membership Services Committee, which is focused on the organizational experience for our singing and HeartLight members. While singing, I began dating my now husband Joe Nadeau, who was the Artistic Director of HMCKC. We moved to Los Angeles for about five years while he conducted the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, but returned to Kansas City in 2019. I rejoined Heartland Men’s Chorus as soon as we moved back and have remained involved ever since, serving as an administrative section leader for the baritones and on the Membership Services Committee. I was elected to serve on the Board starting in 2022, served briefly as Vice-Chair and was recently elected to serve as Chair.
Our mission is to build community, celebrate pride, and empower authenticity. I’ve experienced this for myself as a singing member of HMCKC. Through the Chorus, I have built lifelong intergenerational friendships with people who love to sing, and our performances bring the larger Kansas City LGBTQ community together. Our concerts often include stories and moments drawn from our members or from LGBTQ history. I strongly believe that our authentic stories and voices have power to make people be better to each other. Instead of being “others,” we can be understood as humans who want to love and be loved, to have the dignity and respect and rights afforded to all people. And we also have the power to be allies for other marginalized groups that are all part of the LGBTQ community, including women, the transgender community, and the many communities that face discrimination based on race and ethnicity.
My life is better when I am singing regularly, almost a form of weekly therapy. With Heartland Men’s Chorus, the music we perform is meaningful and challenging, sometimes on a technical level, but often also on a lyrical level – honoring those who have passed, asking the listener of the lyrics to face uncomfortable truths, expressing love and caring that has been long unspoken. And sometimes what we perform is just because we and our audience need to remember to have fun, dance, and laugh as we go through life.
I follow a long line of successful Board Chairs, so I want to continue the good work HMCKC is doing, and make sure our staff and volunteer leaders are supported and have the resources to lead and grow the work of the Chorus. Additionally, I’m personally looking forward to HMCKC performing at the GALA Festival in Minneapolis this summer for thousands of other singers from other LGBTQ choruses.