Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lazy Sunday # 98: St. Francis de la Sissies

This is the season of Christmas concerts and all around the world every church and choral group prepares an evening of music to celebrate the holidays.

Among these are many Gay Men’s Choirs not normally associated with religious music or even welcome in a lot of churches.

We Christians can drift a long way from our Messiah’s teaching sometimes.

That sort of supposedly faith based behavior always reminds me of comedian Bill Hicks, who was once accosted outside a Southern nightclub by a group of local fundamentalists after a set that included one of his famous biblical rants. The boys let Bill know they didn’t much like what he’d had to say about Jesus.

Bill: “Are y’all Christians?”

The Fellas: “Yep.”

Bill: “Well, then -- Forgive me!”

Enough said.

Now, I don’t know why Gay men are so attracted to the formation of their own choirs. But I guess it makes as much sense as all of the ones formed by coal miners and branches of the military. Guys like to sing, especially when there’s a bunch of them and they can get really loud.

But the plethora of Gay choirs has made it virtually impossible to tell them apart. And when everybody’s dressed in a dour Christmas tux, it’s even harder to tell the Gay guys from the coal miners or the Marines.

So, two years ago, the Portland Gay Men’s Choir set out to change all that. For their Christmas concert, they presented an order of Monks who had taken a vow of silence to perform the most famous piece of Christmas music ever written, Handel’s “Messiah”.

The order, billed as “St. Francis de la Sissies”, was an immediate sensation, so much so that their performance has now spawned imitators in Christmas concerts everywhere from high school auditoriums to Fundamentalist churches.

Maybe the spirit of the season and this performance will combine to make a few more of us embrace that “Goodwill to all Men” thing. I hope it at least makes you smile.

Enjoy your Sunday.

For a far different staging, check out the version by the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus here.

No comments: