To lead by creating extraordinary music and experiences that build community, inspire activism, and foster compassion at home and around the world.
We envision a world inspired and unified by the music we create.
We believe in the transformative power of music to heal, to enlighten and to foster unity.
We embrace the life affirming changes we create within and beyond our chorus community.
We evolve society’s views toward LGBTQ people through our commitment to excellence.
We honor all who came before us and whose sacrifices made it possible for us to raise our voices.
During the fall of 1978, a call went out to men in and around the Castro who liked to sing inviting them to a gathering with the purpose of possibly creating a chorus. The driving force was Jon Sims, the conductor of the Freedom Band. October 30 was chosen as the date of the first “rehearsal” to be held at Everett Middle School. The word went out, flyers posted around the neighborhood.
Interest mounted leading up to that first gathering held at Everett Middle School. Around 100 men showed up on the first night. The atmosphere of excitement was described as palpable. The men sang “If They Could See Me Now” and “Stouthearted Men”! Jon Sims conducted the first couple of rehearsals, planning to call the group “Men About Town.” Other suggested names for the group (seriously) were Foggy City Chorus and Homosexual Choir (“gay” was still considered denigrating). After a few weeks, Dick Kramer was brought on to conduct the new group and, thank goodness, they settled on the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. It turned out to be a fortuitous decision. One of the small groups did keep the name “Men About Town.” By the way, the original name of the SF Gay and Lesbian Freedom Band was the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps.
The rest of the story is now legendary and suitable for movie scripts. At the 4th rehearsal, on November 27, having spent the day with the news of Harvey Milk and George Moscone’s assassinations, the singers showed up to rehearsal grief-stricken and in shock. Dick Kramer passed out Mendelsohn’s “Thou, Lord our Refuge.” They all went from there to City Hall steps for the candlelight vigil where they performed for the very first time. Little did the men who gathered those 35 years ago know they were actually giving birth to a world-wide LGBT Choral phenomenon that now boasts hundreds of choruses around the globe.
Artistic Directors & Conductors
Jon Reed Sims (October - December 1978) Founder
Dick Kramer (December 1978 - January 1982)
Ernie Veniegas (June 1982– December 1985)
Gregg Tallman (August 1985 - June 1989)
Dr. Stan Hill (July 1989 - July 2000). Conductor Laureate, July 2012
Dr. Kathleen McGuire (August 2000 - December 2010). Conductor Laureate, January 2011.
Dr. Timothy Seelig (Guest Conductor February - June 2009, Artistic Director January 2011 – Present)
- Tours America '81 (Golden Gate Records LP 1981, CD 1992)
- How Fair This Place (1991)
- Brahms, Bernstein, & the Boys! (1993)
- Our Gay Apparel (September 1995, December 2003)
- NakedMan (July 1996)
- ExtrABBAganza! (April 1997)
- Q (1998)
- Our Boys Will Shine (1998)
- Misbehavin' with Nell Carter (May 1999)
- Sing Me to Heaven (July 2000)
- Exile (June 2000)
- Best of SFGMC (June 2001)
- I Dream of a Time (November 2001)
- SFGMC Does Queen (June 2002)
- Closer Than Ever, 25th Anniversary Concert (May 2004)
- Oh, Happy Day! (July 2004)
- Home for the Holidays - Live at the Castro Theatre (June 2005)
- Divas' Revenge: Opera & Broadway Our Way (November 2005)
- Cowboys, Boas and Bears! Oh, My! (June 2006)
- Why We Sing (DVD June 2007)
- USS Metaphor (DVD, May 2008)
- Creating Harmony: 30th Season Highlights and New World Waking (double CD, Dec. 2008)
- A Few Licks (February 2009)
- Tune In, Turn Up, Sing Out (June 2009)
- California Freedom Tour 2010 (May 2010)
- Words (April 2011)
- Testimony (DVD March 2012)
- Enchantingly Wicked (June 2012)
- I Am Harvey Milk (October 2013)
- Illuminate: Live at 35 (July 2014)
- Passion: Songs of Love and Life (July 2016)
- Festive!: Four Years of Favorites (October 2015)
- 40 (October 2017)