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Victoria woman heads up city’s first LGBTQ choir

In an effort to bridge the generations of the LGBTQ community, a Victoria woman is using music to connect the ages, creating the city’s first queer choir.

Judith Quinlan calls herself one of the “one of the old dykes,” but she doesn’t want that to create a barrier between her and the generation behind her.

“Many of us spent most of our lives trying to create a world that will accept diversity – and now we don’t have much contact with the world we created,” she says. “I want a choir to cross these gaps.”

For six years, Quinlan directed a women’s choir in Lake Cowichan. Now she’s hoping to use music as a gathering tool here in the city where she now resides.

“There’s not a lot going on in Victoria that brings all the different ages together and all the different gender identities,” she says.

So, as the millennials do, she took to social media to spread the word and received a dozen or so responses. A meeting is planned for July 12 at 6 p.m. at Fisgard Street Forum (845 Fisgard St.) for anyone interested in being part of the endeavour. Tentatively, the choir will meet Thursday evenings at the Vic West Community Centre.

Music increases communication and decreases issues that can negatively affect mental health, says Quinlan. The choir is inclusive, but she recognizes some participants may want it to remain a safe space – exclusive to the community – and is respectful of that.

She is, however, still on the hunt for an accompanist for a repertoire that will include classical, pop, folk, spiritual and whatever other suggestions come to the table.

“I want us to do everything,” she says, adding she’s already selected a few choices including the old country tune “Walk Tall,” made famous by American singer Faron Young. “We used to sing that as a pride song.”

Part of the inspiration behind the project was her own lack of knowledge about what it means to identify as LGBTQ in 2018.

“I suppose I could do some studying on the Internet but I think the best way to learn all this stuff is to communicate – to meet the kids, and see what they’re doing and understand them,” she says. “Music in the end, is the best way of communicating and the best way of expressing feelings.”

For more information follow the Victoria LGBTQ Choir on Facebook or drop by Quinlan’s table at Victoria Pride Festival, July 8 from 12:30 until 6 p.m. at MacDonald Park.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

Kristyn Anthony

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