A cast of six singers with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles shared stories of facing discrimination and finding hope with Glendale High students on Tuesday during a sneak peak of a new musical to debut Feb. 1.
The personal testimony and intimate performances brought huge applause from the hundreds of students who attended the event.
The chorus reached out to Glendale High to perform part of their new musical in conjunction with the It Gets Better Project, an organization that promotes positive messages for lesbian, gay and transgender youth.
The chorus has performed at Glendale High before, said Lee Stickler, who manages youth outreach for the chorus. But this time it coincided with the school district’s Yellow Ribbon Week, marking school safety and nonviolence.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer to come here,” Stickler said, adding that Glendale was open to the sensitive subject matter of the musical. “We’re talking about suicide. We’re talking about coming out in high school.
“They’re an extremely welcoming and life affirming school.”
Glendale High also has a 25-member Gay-Straight Alliance club, led by teacher Christa Bretz.
On Tuesday, 600 students volunteered to attend the assembly, but Bretz said that ideally, “we would love to have it just be a mandatory assembly.”
Singer Mario Mosley shared that when growing up as a gay young man, fellow students bullied him by throwing rocks at him. But his mother always told him, “Be who you are. Stand for what you believe in,” and he repeated her advice to students at Glendale High Tuesday as they cheered in response.
Another singer, Tyler Houston, described how a family member announced Houston was gay when he was 13. By age 16, Houston was kicked out of his house for being gay.
“I felt like I had no options — no hope,” he said.
When his mother realized how depressed he was, she sought a support system for Houston and found the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles online. She contacted the chorus and they sent Houston letters and care packages.
Now, he was a member of the choir.
During a question-and-answer session, chorus members wanted to learn about Glendale High’s environment pertaining to gay students.
“They’re really open here,” a female student said. “With the team that I’m on, mostly everyone’s gay and they accept that."
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan