Editorial by Argerie Vasilakes for the Sister Singers Network Steering Committee, July 2015.
Chicago’s Artemis Singers joined with Amasong:Champaign-Urbana’s Premier Lesbian/Feminist Chorus
at the Illinois Marriage Equality Rally in the fall of 2013.
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, striking down individual state bans on same sex marriage. In news coverage of the public reaction, signs reading, Love wins! were seen everywhere.
At our recent SSN Annual Meeting in Eagan, Minnesota, a month later, we were ecstatic! Two of our 25 meeting participants announced their imminent weddings. Another couple proudly flashed wedding rings. Others spoke of their relief to be enjoying at home the rights they had gone out of state to get. And one bride’s mother proudly re-read an excerpt from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion that she had used as a wedding toast to her daughter and daughter-in-law. Across all our choruses, we felt in a personal way that love wins.
For more than 40 years, the Sister Singers Network has been the resonant space in which our songs have reverberated. We have sung for acceptance. In the song “Marie” (by Laura Berkson) two young women companions seek a court ruling to let them go to their school prom together. Every time we heard this song at a Festival, we joined Stephanie and Marie, dancing for all we believe. The last verse made us weep with joy for love that prevailed and with sorrow for love that needed permission to be seen openly.
We have sung for togetherness. Whole concert programs have longed for us to be “gay and straight together,” in the words of Holly Near. We cheered at that harmonious vision even as we noticed that such language still divides love into separate categories. Despite this paradox, we kept singing.
We have, in fact, been “singing for our lives.” Our songs have awakened and nurtured our own consciousness as singers in feminist choruses. But by performing, we have contributed to more than our own empowerment: through our audiences’ ears, minds, and hearts, we have also played a part in the evolution of our nation’s consciousness. And so, when the Supreme Court concluded “that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person,” we can say that Sister Singers – our choruses, ensembles individual singers, composers and arrangers – helped make that happen.
Our power is in our network of voices. Visions of a just world flourish in our song commissions. Concert stages and government buildings resound with the music of freedom. Hearts expand in the special communities our choruses create. And our audiences begin to think differently.
We have been singing our lives into existence.
Let us hope that, in the years to come, we will still sing about Stephanie and Marie. But from now on, we can enjoy that song for the quaint history that it has become, and as a reminder of the long struggle for justice. There is still more work to close gaps of equality, but today we can rejoice for all of our marrying friends and take a bow for the songs that we have sung for them.
So waltz around the floor with abandon. Love wins.
Festival Planning Documents
Is your chorus considering hosting a festival? It will be one of the topics we discuss this week at the annual meeting.
We have documents available to help prosective hosts in considering wether they are ready and able to host a festival. We also have the records from previous festivals to help guide you in your planning, should you decide to present a festival.
Most importantly we have members who have produced a festival and can answer your questions!
New Web Site
This is our new Website on our new host. Things should be easier to find and share now that each page has a unique URL. As with all new ventures there are going to be some missing parts and missplaced things, I am working to resolve those as quickly as possible. The perfect being the enemy off the good, we begin with most of the things you are looking for. Please contact me with any problems you encounter.