Fulfilling her desire to advocate for the LGBTQ community, senior Camilla Barillas enters her third year participating in the Generation Out (GenOut) youth choir formed by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.
The first Gay Men’s Chorus is a non-profit organization first formed in San Francisco, California at the height of the AIDS crisis. Washington, D.C. followed suit as the second Gay Men’s chorus; soon, every major city had its own chapter. They state that their goal is to “sing to inspire equality and inclusion with musical performances and education promoting justice and dignity for all.”
The organization sparked Barillas’ interest when she heard about it during an Allies for Equality meeting. Blake alumni have also participated in the choir, further prompting Barillas to join. “I joined and I ended up really enjoying it, so I’ve been there ever since. This is my third year [and] I sing soprano,” she says.
Rehearsing for two hours on three Sundays of the month, the choirs prepare for the variety of performances they attend. Each of the concerts organized by GenOut and Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington incorporate a theme; their summer 2017 concert at the Lincoln Theatre consisted of all Broadway songs to support the theme, “And the Tony goes to….”
In addition to vocal performances, GenOut participates in community outreach activities, like the Walk to End HIV and the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) brunch. The choir also had the opportunity to perform at the White House and meet former President Barack Obama and other notable celebrities active in the LGBTQ community. “[Meeting] President Obama was a dream come true. We sang as people walked in, and then Laverne Cox walked past. Everyone went silent and nobody was singing because we saw her,” Barillas says.
For Barillas, one of the most beneficial aspects of her participation in GenOut is the variety and sincerity of the people she meets. “The members of the Gay Men’s Chorus are really nice to us. They’re big inspirations to us [and] we look up to them a lot. [I] get provided with so many opportunities,” she says.