When the first gay men’s chorus in Florida took the stage nearly 30 years ago at a City of Hope fundraiser in Miami Beach, no one applauded. The audience remained silent until they heard the singers perform their opening song. At the end of the concert, they received a standing ovation.
Gary Keating founded the original Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, now known as the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, in 1986. He remained artistic director for 10 years, leaving to work with other Florida singing groups. Eight years ago, he became director-conductor of the choral-vocal magnet program at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in Northeast Miami-Dade County.
On Saturday night, Keating’s two worlds come together at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale: He will conduct a joint concert of the gay men’s chorus and the Starlight Singers from Krop.
The concert, titled “Lounge-array,” will feature a variety of music, “from manly disco to classical to silly,” according to the chorus website. The Starlight Singers will perform on their own and then join the gay men’s chorus for the finale.
To Keating, running both of these organizations is about helping two sets of communities. The gay chorus often performs for the elderly and at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors. At Krop, he uses his erudition in music to challenge and inspire a younger generation of future musicians.
“My kids amaze me everyday,” said Keating, 62. “The amazement comes when I can give them something new and different to work on.”
Performing with the gay men’s chorus is one of these new and different projects Keating has brought to his students.
“I think it’s an honor to perform with them. As the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance and as someone who is a musician and who is also gay, I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Laura Katz, 18, a Krop senior who will sing on Saturday.
The Krop Gay-Straight Alliance regularly marches in the annual Miami Beach Gay Pride parade. At this year’s event on April 12, the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus will be there, too.
Katz, who graduates this spring, hasn’t chosen a university yet, but plans to go to a school with a strong music program. She sees the gay men’s chorus as a force for social change, promoting equality through their music and through the positive influence they have as role models to LGBT youth.
“We get out into the community and change people’s minds about what the gay community looks like,” Keating said.
If you go
The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus and the Starlight Singers from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School perform “Lounge-array,” 8 p.m. Saturday at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale auditorium, One E. Las Olas Blvd.
Tickets are $25 general admission and $40 VIP seating. They are available at www.thefortlauderdalegaymenschorus.org or at the door. All proceeds benefit the chorus.