TIME LINE: 1978 - present


  • San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus (SFGMC), now affectionately known as the "grandfather" of the queer choral movement, is founded by Jon Reed Sims. Sims had already founded the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps (now the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band) - the world's first openly gay and lesbian performing arts organization. Previously, the USA's first feminist women's chorus, the Anna Crusis Women's Choir was founded by Catherine Roma in Philadelphia in 1975, and the Gotham Male Chorus in New York City formed in 1977, although neither group openly identified as "gay" or "lesbian" at the time.
  • October 30: first SFGMC rehearsal. Dick Kramer is the first conductor, appointed by founder Jon Sims.
  • November 27: SFGMC's first public appearance, SF City Hall, day of the Moscone-Milk Assassinations. Sings Felix Mendelssohn's hymn, "Thou, Lord, Our Refuge"
  • December 20: first formal concert, with SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band at Everett Middle School
  • SFGMC ensembles The Lollipop Guild, Chamber Singers and Men About Town are formed, the first official sub-groups of a gay chorus. The Lollipop Guild, originally specializing in a cappella Barbershop music, still exists today. Other SFGMC ensembles have included: Nota Bene, Swing Set, Vocal Minority and del Castro.
  • First performance of an original composition by a gay chorus: "I Understood" - music by SFGMC member Tad Dunlap; words by Harvey Milk.
  • June: First Annual Gay Musical Celebration (now the Annual Pride Concert) with SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. The Annual Pride Concert is still a popular event in San Francisco each June and also includes the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco.
  • January: Jon Sims starts a third organization - the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Chorus (now the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco).
  • April 24: San Francisco resident Ken Horne is the first AIDS case in the United States to be recognized at the time. San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus would go on to lose more than 250 members (a.k.a. the Fifth Section) to AIDS; many members today are living with AIDS/HIV.
  • Music critic Robert Commanday proclaims the SFGMC as "SUPERB" in San Francisco Chronicle
  • Unofficial offshoot, Automatic Pilot, is formed by SFGMC members and performs at chorus events, later becoming an independent band.
  • April 16: SFGMC loses a controversial court battle, failing to persuade Superior Court Judge Ira Brown to force the Jesuits at the University of San Francisco to allow a concert at St. Ignatius Church. A civil suit with financial remuneration is awarded in the Chorus's favor several months later.
  • SFGMC makes its first recording: The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Tours America 1981 (vinyl, LP)
  • June: SFGMC embarks on its National Tour, visiting Dallas, Minneapolis (Orchestra Hall), Lincoln, Detroit, New York, Boston, Washington D.C. (Kennedy Center), Seattle (Seattle Opera House), and then returning to perform at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. Bay Area Women's Quartet, a brass ensemble, travels with the chorus.
  • San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein presents Chorus with the Key to the City.
  • As a result of the Tour, SFGMC incurs huge debt of more than US$200,000.
  • Representatives of 12 gay choruses meet in Chicago, IL. GALA Performing Arts is tentatively formed.
  • December: SFGMC's holiday concert titled Now Sing Again With Hearts Aglow wins first of several Cable Car Awards.
  • January 21, Bay Area Reporter: "SFGMC retires one of three mortgages used to underwrite the 1981 National Tour [...] Proceeds from Mayor Dianne Feinstein's benefit dinner for the Chorus, plus other donations from the Tour Fund, paid the $49,290.35 note lent by Jim Mahony, member of the chorus, who was one of three men who put up their homes to send the Chorus across the country."
  • February 7: Dick Kramer's final performance with SFGMC. He subsequently forms a new chorus: Dick Kramer's Gay Men's Chorale (now Golden Gate Men's Chorus).
  • February 11: Bay Area Reporter declares that SFGMC is "one of the finest musical organizations in the country."
  • February - March: Robin Kay, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Chorus, prepares SFGMC for a challenging program with Berkeley Symphony Orchestra directed by Kent Nagano at Davies Symphony Hall (March 14).
  • Chorus members Claude Zetty, Dale Richard and Robert Erickson serve at interim conductors.
  • May: Concerts titled From Ops to Pops, May 7 at Dinkespiel Audition, Stanford University and May 9, Davies Symphony Hall
  • June 25: Fourth Annual Gay Musical Celebration, Civic Auditorium
  • Ernie Veniegas succeeds Dick Kramer as SFGMC's new Artistic Director
  • Gay Games I held in San Francisco at Kezar Stadium; SFGMC is joined by a dozen other LGBT choruses in the first West Coast Choral Festival as part of Gay Games. This leads to the permanent establishment of the GALA Choruses Network, with SFGMC as a founding member. The name subsequently is changed to GALA Choruses; SFGMC's General Manager Jay Davidson leads efforts to obtain the new organization's 501(c)(3) status.
  • COAST (Come Out and Sing Together) brings together 1,200 individuals from 12 choruses from around the US for the first National Gay and Lesbian Choral Festival. Libby Larson and Ned Rorem, among others, compose music for the Festival. SFGMC's Jay Davidson elected as President.
  • SFGMC invited to appear in the Paul Masson Summer Concert Series
  • Guest conductors Dennis Coleman (Artistic Director, Seattle Men's Chorus) and Vance George (Music Director, San Francisco Symphony Chorus) lead SFGMC during national search for a new permanent Artistic Director.
  • SFGMC joins with Seattle Men's Chorus and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra in West Coast premiere of Richard Strauss's Die Tagezeiten.
  • Fall: Gregg Tallman appointed as SFGMC's new Artistic Director

  • Invocation and Dance about AIDS composed by David Conte, commission by SFGMC and performed with The Women's Philharmonic.
  • SFGMC performs in Oregon with the Portland Gay Men's Chorus, then in Minneapolis to open the second triennial GALA Choruses Festival. 45 choruses participate.
  • SFGMC's Tenth Season includes performances with the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and a gala anniversary concert at Davies Symphony Hall.
  • In recognition of the tenth anniversary, The New York Times runs a feature article on the front page in May; numerous television stations produced special segments on the Chorus.
  • October and November: SFGMC appears with San Francisco Opera in fourteen performances of The Flying Dutchman and Parsifal.
  • Foreign television special featuring the Chorus broadcast to over six million Europeans;
  • Screenplay about the Chorus written by a film student at UCLA
  • July 1: Performance with the Windy City Gay Chorus in Chicago
  • July 2 - 8: SFGMC participates in the third triennial GALA Choruses Festival, held in Seattle, along with 62 participating choruses.
  • July: Dr. Stan Hill appointed as new Artistic Director. He would stay with the chorus through July, 2000, and is to-date SFGMC's the longest-serving conductor. During the first five months of his dynamic leadership, SFGMC performances include the national convention of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a gala AIDS benefit concert at Davies Symphony Hall with Jerry Herman, Carol Channing, Lauren Bacall, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet, and the cast of Les Misérables.
  • Sold-out concerts at Herbst Theater include guests Deborah Voigt, Marian Marsh and the Arlekin Moscow String Quartet
  • December 24: first annual Home for the Holidays concert held at Castro Theatre. Remains a holiday tradition for thousands of San Franciscans.
  • SFGMC releases its first compact disc recording, How Fair This Place.
  • SFGMC premieres new works commissioned by or written for SFGMC: "Dirge" from Cymbeline by Conrad Susa; David's Lamentation on the Death of Jonathan by Stan Hill, and Of Rage and Remembrance by John Corigliano.
  • August: SFGMC promotes gay pride to capacity audiences in Santa Barbara at concert and service at the Santa Barbara Unitarian Society
  • SFGMC releases its second compact disc recording, a commemorative re-release of its 1981 national tour LP recording.
  • SFGMC travels to Seattle for two concerts at the Seattle Opera House with Seattle Men's Chorus, Seattle Women's Ensemble, Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus, The Pink Singers from London, UK, and Männer-Minne from Berlin, Germany.
  • SFGMC participates in the Festival of GALA Choruses IV, held in Denver, featuring 75 choruses from around the world.
  • SFGMC's Cabaret 14 is held at the Great American Music Hall; Cabaret 14 is the debut production of GGPA Presents, established as an arm of Golden Gate Performing Arts to produce shows other than regular concerts of the SFGMC. Other productions in the inaugural GGPA Presents season include The Flirtations and the dance team Juntos.
  • Fall concert entitled Sisters and Brothers: A Celebration of Community in Herbst Theatre includes special guests Voices: Bay Area Lesbian Choral Ensemble.
  • December: SFGMC performs in Napa Valley for an AIDS fundraiser honoring the founders of The Great Chefs of France.
  • February 20: SFGMC performs with San Francisco Ballet Kristopher Jon Anthony's When We No Longer Touch at Classical Action: A Concerted Effort Against AIDS concert, raising almost $1M for AIDS in the (then) largest live-performance benefit ever staged in San Francisco
  • July 8, 9: KGAY-FM: The Sounds of the Sixties concerts with Florence Henderson.
  • July 28: Guest appearance with San Francisco Symphony in Summer Pops series, performing Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
  • August 23: SFGMC featured in documentary film, Singing Positive, produced by a French company and shown in the US on Cinemax. The film receives an award from GLAAD in 1996.
  • November: With revitalized interest in outreach, SFGMC presents concert at Napa First United Methodist Church.
  • SFGMC commissions important song suite NakedMan by Philip Littel and Robert Seeley, portraying stories about members of the chorus - what it's like to live as gay men. Still being performed today around the world.
  • SFGMC's The Lollipop Guild sings at 3rd annual Until There's a Cure AIDS awareness day at SF Giants baseball game. The Giants' inaugural AIDS awareness day in 1994 marked the first of its kind at a professional sports event in the US.
  • SFGMC participates in GALA Choruses Festival V in Tampa, Florida, including 86 choruses, 23 small ensembles, and more than 4,700 delegates.
  • SFGMC presents ExtrABBAganza arranged by David Maddux. Featuring the music of Swedish pop group, ABBA, the high-energy show provided a deliberate departure from the countless AIDS memorials SFGMC suffered at the time. The ExtrABBAganza CD continues to be a popular seller, and Maddux's arrangements continue to be performed today.
  • SFGMC tours to Sydney, Australia, performing NakedMan and ExtrABBAganza, marking first international appearance.
  • April 25: SFGMC presents Misbehavin' with special guest, Nell Carter, at Masonic Auditorium. A CD is made of the live performance.
  • April 29 & 30: Sold-out concerts with guest Megan Mullally at Masonic Auditorium
  • Song suite Exile by Robert Espindola and Robert Seeley commissioned by SFGMC as a sequel to NakedMan
  • July: SFGMC performs Exile at 6th GALA Choruses Festival, held in San Jose.
  • August: Dr. Kathleen McGuire appointed as the first woman Artistic Director and Conductor of the chorus and remains with the Chorus today.
  • October: SFGMC's first Giving Back concert, in gratitude for "the women in our lives." Beneficiary organizations include Breast Cancer Fund, Lyon Martin Women's Health Services and Community United Against Violence. Many renowned women appear as guests, including comedienne Kate Clinton.
  • June: West Coast Tour to Washington DC (Kennedy Center) with Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, DC (June 16) and New York City (Carnegie Hall) with ] (June 18). Kristen Chenoweth is also guest artist in New York.
  • July 14 & 15: SFGMC presents David Conte's Eos (commissioned by Boston Gay Men's Chorus in 2000) in concert titled Trojans and Amazons at the Palace of Fine Arts with The Women's Philharmonic. Vancouver singer, Kim Kuzma, is also a guest on the program.
  • Washington Area Music Award (or WAMMIE) received for CD, I Dream of a Time, featuring SFGMC and the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, DC live at The Kennedy Center. CD also an Out Music Award finalist.
  • September 15: Just days after the tragedy of September 11, SFGMC opts to go ahead with previously-scheduled benefit concert in Modesto for Stanislaus Community Assistance Project (or SCAP) before a 500-strong audience. This precipitates regular tours to Modesto and other northern California areas as part of SFGMC's growing SingOut Program.
  • December: SFGMC begins annual holiday concert tours to Modesto, benefiting SCAP, and to Santa Rosa, benefiting Face to Face, Sonoma County AIDS Network. Subsequent touring destinations include Napa, Yountville and Santa Cruz.

  • February 25: SFGMC presents Giving Back: Tomorrow's Child benefit concert at Palace of Fine Arts with special guest Carol Channing, among others. Beneficiaries include Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (or GLSEN), Larkin Street Youth Services, and Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (or LYRIC).
  • March 8: SFGMC's first by-invitation performance at an elementary school: Park Day School in Oakland
  • April: SFGMC Does Queen concerts at Mission High School. Live recording of the concert becomes one of SFGMC's most popular CDs; Kathleen McGuire's arrangements of Queen songs are subsequently performed by choruses in the US, Canada, England and Australia.
  • June: I Dream of a Time CD is Out Music Awards finalist for Outstanding New Recording: Chorus or Choir
  • June: Annual Pride Concert includes guests Sharon Gless and Sir Ian McKellen.
  • November: SFGMC members sing at Gay Games in Sydney, Australia
  • December: SFGMC adds Santa Cruz to its holiday touring, benefiting Full Spectrum: The Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Santa Cruz (or LGCSC)
  • June: SFGMC is Out Music Awards finalist for SFGMC Does Queen CD.
  • June 27: SFGMC presents daytime concert to elementary school students: Alan Shorter's musical version of Tomie dePaola's Oliver Button is a STAR!. Pride Concert also includes Oliver Button, narrated by B.D. Wong.
  • November: SFGMC tours to Palm Springs, performing in concert with Caballeros and in the Palm Springs Pride Parade
  • November 17: SFGMC's Closer Than Ever: the 25th Anniversary Concert presented at Davies Symphony Hall, with guests Sharon McNight and Armistead Maupin. Live CD of the concert wins the Out Music Award for Outstanding New Recording: Chorus or Choir.
  • February 26: SFGMC members sing at wedding of Rosie O'Donnell and Kelli Carpenter at SF City Hall and at various times during the historic six weeks of same-gender unions
  • April 17 & 18: SFGMC presents Oh Happy Day concert. Program includes spirituals, Gospel and Motown selections. SFGMC reaches out to faith communities as well as the African American and trans communities. Guest artists include Transcendence Gospel Choir - the world's first transgender choir. SFGMC is the first choir ever permitted to wear stoles from the Shower of Stoles Project, supporting LGBT people of faith.
  • June 25: Pride Concert features music by The Beatles; pays tribute to gay Beatles' manager Brian Epstein. With special guest: Alan Cumming
  • July: SFGMC performs selections from Oh Happy Day at GALA Choruses Festival VIIe in Montreal, Quebec, Canada - first time the festival is held outside the USA. SFGMC is the final chorus to appear, wearing choir robes adorned with personalized stoles made by SFGMC members.
  • December: SFGMC's Home for the Holidays concerts include Kathleen McGuire's new arrangement for men's chorus of John Rutter's Gloria in honor of the work's 30th anniversary. The arrangement becomes popular with many other choruses.

  • April: Divas' Revenge concert at Davies Symphony Hall with 45-piece Community Women's Orchestra features opera and Broadway selections
  • June: SFGMC wins Out Music Award, Outstanding New Recording: Chorus or Choir, for Closer Than Ever: the 25th Anniversary CD. Oh, Happy Day CD is finalist. SFGMC also a finalist in category: Outmusician of the Year.
  • June: Pride concert features Sing for the Cure® at Grace Cathedral. Cris Williamson makes a special appearance.
  • November: SFGMC's first official Ensembles Concert, Cowboys, Boas and Bears, Oh My, features The Lollipop Guild and Vocal Minority at the ODC Theater. A CD of the program is recorded subsequently with Grammy-nominated audio engineer, David Bowles.

  • April 17: Thank You For the Music concert with Stockholms Gaykör (or Stockholm's Gay Choir) from Sweden at Davies Symphony Hall. Community Women's Orchestra accompanies. Selections from NakedMan commemorate the work's tenth anniversary, along with excerpts ExtrABBAganza and Exile.
  • June: SFGMC wins second, consecutive, Out Music Award for Outstanding New Recording: Chorus or Choir for Home for the Holidays: Live at the Castro Theatre, featuring highlights from holiday concerts 2000-2004. Divas' Revenge: Opera and Broadway Our Way is a Finalist.
  • June : SFGMC Artistic Director Dr. Kathleen McGuire represents SFGMC as Community Grand Marshal for San Francisco Pride
  • July: SFGMC members sing at Gay Games in Chicago
  • December 1: SFGMC is featured performer in World AIDS Day concert at Grace Cathedral commemorating 25 years of AIDS
  • April 30: Divas' Revenge II concert at Davies Symphony Hall, with the Community Women's Orchestra and Judy Garland impersonator, Connie Champagne
  • May 4: SFGMC's The Lollipop Guild performs at Equality Forum, Philadelphia, celebrating 25 years of GALA Choruses
  • September: SFGMC members perform at GALA Choruses conference in Denver, celebrating 25 years of GALA Choruses