In 1991 the organizers of Indiana Pride Day had received permission to hold their event on Monument Circle in Indianapolis. Monument Circle is right in the center of downtown, actually right in the center of the state. The Indianapolis Men’s Chorus was slated to appear, only their second performance ever.
The decision to let the celebration take place on Monument Circle had infuriated the local religious right, who staged a not-so-quiet protest. Just as the IMC prepared to mount the south steps, several self-proclaimed “Christians” scrambled to take their space away, but were stopped by law enforcement officials. The air was extremely tense as everyone waited to see what the next move would be.
Over the boos of the protesters, IMC members took their places and rendered a most stirring rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
The booing stopped; the mob scattered and disappeared, unable to reconcile its stereotypes and its notion of patriotism while these powerful voices proclaimed the sound of justice and basic human dignity.
Fifteen years later much has changed. Those hecklers have been replaced by warm and receptive crowds from all walks of Hoosier life. The decade has been good to the gay and lesbian community, but challenges remain in the search for the full equality in America that anthem honors.
So the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus continues making music, music that makes a difference.
– adapted from a piece written by Don Sherfick, former chairperson of IndyChoruses, and member of the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus.