There's nothing like singing songs you can really get behind.
Corin Whittemore sang with other choirs before she joined the Juneau Pride Chorus, but the material was hard. It wasn't hard to sing; it was hard to take.
"I'm not crazy about victim songs," she said. "We sang songs - I just grimaced when I sang the words. Like one song from a musical, 'I'm just a girl who can't say no.' "
She much prefers the material the Pride Chorus performs, she said, which includes uplifting songs that aren't necessarily religious and songs about peace, freedom and changing the world for the better.
"It's so good to sing your heart out on songs where you can really get behind the words," she said.
The Juneau Pride Chorus performs at 7:30 Saturday night at Northern Light United Church. The event is a fund-raiser to help the group travel to Seattle to perform at a choir festival in May. The concert, billed as "The Juneau Pride Chorus and Friends," will open with a silent auction at 6:30 p.m. and includes an intermission with refreshments.
Choir manager Marsha Buck said the choir includes about 30 women, plus a percussionist and accompanist. About 25 singers will participate Saturday.
The chorus will perform 10 songs, and friends of the choir will perform five additional short sets of music.
Other performers at the concert will include J. Althea, Toby Clark accompanied by Lorrie Heagy, Cheryl Cook and Kathy Hocker as a duet and Collette Costa. The theme for the concert is "A Gift of Song."
"We're doing several songs about giving gifts to people, and we consider the songs to be gifts to the audience," Buck said. "We're doing 'Simple Gifts,' and several songs about roses, and we're weaving all the songs into the theme of giving gifts. We're doing 'Peace is,' and 'Safe, Strong and Free,' which are two big gifts for world citizens right now."
The group was started about four years ago by PFLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
"We put out the advertisements and the invitations to be a mixed chorus but then men never showed up," Buck said. "By the third rehearsal we decided we'd be a women's chorus."
She said it has evolved into mostly lesbians and supportive heterosexual and bisexual members.
"For me having straight women in the chorus makes me more comfortable," said one chorister.
"People look at us and don't know who is gay and straight and that is the point. But it's gay-positive and you don't have to be gay to be gay-positive."
The Pride Chorus is affiliated with GALA Choruses, the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, an international group of men's, women's and mixed choruses.
"The motto of GALA Chorus is 'Our voices win freedom,' " Buck said. "I think of that often when we sing because so many of our songs are about freedom."
Members of the Juneau Pride Chorus sing together and they also stick together when the going gets tough. When Buck was hit by a truck and nearly killed in August 2000, chorus members took care of her for months while she recovered.
"People came to her house twice a day," said Whittemore, who helped coordinate the efforts. "People came in with meals, did her laundry, cleaned house, whatever they could do. We all came up with contributions. It was a community rally - somebody's trailer burns down and everyone comes out and gives them things - it was like that."
"It was very incredible," Buck said. "The camaraderie is real."
Riley Woodford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.