History of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus

The SAN DIEGO GAY MEN’S CHORUS is one of the ten largest GALA choruses in the United States. It currently features over 100 talented and dedicated singers and dancers who are devoted to the chorus mission statement, “To create a positive musical experience through exciting performances which engage our audiences, build community support and provide a dynamic force for social change.” Over 300 alumni have been a part of the Chorus throughout its 38-year history. With it’s roster of singers and dancers, a volunteer base of supporters and an engaged Board of Directors and staff, SDGMC hopes to inspire thousands of people, win new fans, and write its own unique chapter in the histories of San Diego, of LGBTQ+ equality, and of choral music. We look forward to adding our history to this page as it happens!

After performing together in December 2009 for the first time in 17 years, the San Diego Men’s Chorus (SDMC) and the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego (GMCSD), with their uniquely distinctive and proud

histories, officially merged to create the new SAN DIEGO GAY MEN’S CHORUS (SDGMC). The newly merged Chorus looks forward to continuing the tradition of extraordinary musicianship and dedication to the community outreach of their predecessors.

History of the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego (1992-2010)

The Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego was founded in 1992 by eleven San Diego Men’s Chorus members who wanted to sing in a self-identified “gay chorus.” The Chorus began singing in 1993 under the baton of founding member Gary Holt, rehearsing in the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul on 5th Avenue. Within its first year, GMCSD membership grew to over 30 singers, and San Diego’s newly elected mayor invited the openly gay chorus to perform as part of the opening entertainment at her inaugural celebration.
In December 1993, the Chorus presented its first public concert – “Don We Now…”– before a standing-room-only audience at the Park Boulevard United Methodist Church. In 2000 Gary Holt retired from the Chorus, and Stephen Austin was hired as Artistic Director. For its tenth anniversary in 2002, the chorus recorded its first CD, “Our Own Kind of Music,” and celebrated with an anniversary gala at the historic El Cortez Hotel in downtown San Diego.

In 2003, Mr. Austin left to pursue a new career path, and Adam Hemming succeeded him as Artistic Director with some energetic, highly choreographed concerts until the summer of 2005 when he headed east to embark on a performance career. Founding Artistic Director Gary Holt returned to lead the Chorus once again and pushed the Chorus to challenge musical heights with concerts featuring Broadway and pop hits, jazz, and blues classics, and other choral masterpieces. In July 2007 GMCSD was invited to sing the National Anthem for the San Diego Padres Out at The Park day – a first for that baseball team.

History of the San Diego Men’s Chorus (1985-2010)

The San Diego Men’s Chorus was formed in 1985 after members of The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles came to San Diego to perform a benefit concert that promoted the launch of a gay men’s chorus in San Diego. SDMC began its history with approximately 45 men. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, SDMC performed at many funerals and memorials for members of the community who had died of AIDS.

By the mid-1990s, SDMC shifted its focus to the message that music can change lives, and SDMC became a voice of inspiration and hope. The chorus sang at events such as the 1998 Super Bowl pre-game show, Heartstrings Benefits, three years of Insights International Conferences, holiday caroling at the Clinton White House, the San Diego County Fair with Barry Manilow, and Sing for the Cure, a benefit for the Susan G. Kolmen Breast Cancer Foundation.SDMC has always supported the San Diego community and has continued to specifically help people with AIDS.

Since the early 1990s, SDMC has donated a dollar from every ticket to a local organization that assists people living with AIDS. After a long and proud history, SDMC merged with the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego and in 2010, formed a new chorus called the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus.