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GALS - Gay and Lesbian Singers

In this podcast Catherine Lee and Ashley Barratt talk about New Zealand's first LGBTI choir.

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This podcast features Ashley Barratt and Catherine Lee, who provide insight into the Gay and Lesbian Singers (GALS), New Zealand’s first LGBTI choir, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. The conversation is moderated by Gareth Watkins and takes place in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand, covering the choir’s development and significance within the community, particularly within the context of the 1990s.

The choir was originally formed to support Michael Parmenter's 1992 pride event. Starting as a modest support group, it evolved into a celebrated entity for the gay and lesbian community in Auckland and beyond. It was noted that a few original members still contribute to the choir. The interview touches upon the choir's historical context, spanning its inception to its continued relevance and efforts to attract new members, including the younger demographic.

Ashley and Catherine recount their personal experiences of joining and becoming part of GALS. Ashley first encountered the choir during the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne and was compelled to contribute to its direction and legacy upon returning to New Zealand. Catherine joined through a friend's invitation, finding the choir open to all skill levels. The choir was described as a welcoming space for those with varied levels of musical ability, emphasizing support and community over technical proficiency.

Discussion also revolved around GALS' performances at international events, such as the Gay Games and various out games, spotlighting New Zealand music and culture on a global stage. These performances are often infused with uniquely New Zealand elements, including original compositions by local composers such as David Hamilton, and the integration of Māori songs – a testament to the choir's commitment to representing and celebrating their cultural heritage.

They also articulate the choir's openness to straight members and their inclusive approach, ushering new participants through a non-auditioned, supportive environment. The significance of GALS as a community anchor remains central, with outreach programs and collaborations with youth organizations such as Rainbow Youth discussed as future goals aimed at sustaining and rejuvenating the choir's demographic.

The relationship between GALS' music and the LGBTI community is reflected in the repertoire, which ranges from adjusted lyrics to the presentation of songs that resonate with the community's experiences. This deliberate choice emphasizes the choir’s identity and mission to represent and validate the emotions and stories of the wider gay and lesbian community through music.

The interviewees highlighted the importance of performances in maintaining offering members goals and opportunities for improvement, thus upholding the ensemble’s quality. GALS' communal approach to music is considered primal, attracting individuals not only interested in making music but also in finding affirmation and a sense of belonging.

The abstract concludes by revisiting the possibility of GALS evolving its name to reflect wider inclusivity, aligning with the progressive nature of terminologies and recognition within the LGBTQ+ communities. However, as of the recording date, the name remained unchanged, with many members feeling both proud and comfortable with the choir's identity as GALS.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:29th April 2012
Interviewer:Gareth Watkins
Location:Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-003962).