Pride 2018

Transphobia at Pride: A letter from the chair

Zoe, Chair

A public letter from our chair, Zoe Burdo, on transphobia at London Pride and the importance of supporting our trans members, friends and community.

 

 


The Pink Singers was formed to march in the 1983 London Pride parade at a time when the age of consent was still unequal, HIV/AIDS had barely reached the political agenda and legally recognised partnership between same-sex couples was still over two decades away. This year, in annual fashion, we put on our pink and black t-shirts, doused ourselves in glitter and donned more than our fair share of rainbow accessories. Our history has been one from protest to celebration.

“Our history has been one from protest to celebration..”

It is easy to be lulled into a false sense of security that our protest energy is no longer needed here in London; that we are on a sure path to acceptance here in the UK and that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are far away issues. We revel in the work of generations before, proclaiming our pride. We risk complacency that the fight has already been won.

This weekend served as a stark reminder that we are so far from that point– more upsettingly, not even just from politicians or the ‘outside world’, but from within our dedicated spaces and from those within our community. Pride in London has officially made a statement about the incident, as have other organisations, so I will avoid rehashing the details. But in short – we were ambushed. Our space was tainted by a hate group who forced their way in to spread dangerous, false, disgusting messages about trans people.

“Our space was tainted by a hate group who forced their way in to spread dangerous, false, disgusting messages about trans people.”

It is important to understand that the demonstration on Saturday was different than the anti-LGBT protest groups we have seen dotting the parade path before. Trans people were targeted from within their own space. A group twisted and warped the platform of Pride to spread false, transphobic, harmful rhetoric. To capitalise on the press, visibility and reach of London Pride as our space and manipulate it for prejudicial aims is truly abhorrent.

This is a fight. We are fighting. We should all be fighting. Fighting to be more active allies to our trans friends and family. Fighting for visibility and equality for everyone and using our privilege and platforms to fight even harder for marginalised groups within our LGBT+ community. And sometimes that means standing up to those who may share our umbrella but certainly not our values. We need to remember where Pride started – marching against abuse and oppression and facing the hate groups and opposition along the way head on. Marching in solidarity. We must stand up and call out discrimination when we see it.

“We should be fighting… even harder for marginalised groups within our LGBT+ community.”

The Pink Singers loudly and proudly supports our trans and non-binary members, partners, friends and community. We welcome those of all identities and along all walks of their individual journeys. We do not tolerate transphobia or any form of hate and we will continue to speak out and use our platform to fight for the rights and respect of all people.

“We do not tolerate transphobia or any form of hate…”

The Pink Singers have a large network and are part of an extremely diverse and wide reaching LGBT+ community. We were founded on the values of protest and solidarity and part of our aims as a charity are to promote equality and diversity through celebrating the diversity of the entire LGBT+ community. It is up to all of us with a voice to say something and I encourage you to do the same, whether that be a soprano, alto, tenor, bass or just a good old whistle.

In love and song,

 

 


Mixtape Magic

Samantha Tan, Pinkie newbie for our 35th Birthday season, reflects on a season of love, joy, music and Pinkie Magic!

 

 

 


My contact with the Pink Singers started in January this year as an observer when my friend Phil (bass and extraordinary human being) asked if I’d volunteer as backstage crew for his LGBT choir’s concert. As I stood backstage observing the maelstrom of A Night at the Movies: The Sequel chaos and infectious excitement from the singers, a few sentiments distilled themselves. One: They’re all LGBT (news of the day!). Two: They’re having a whale of a time. Three: They’re stinkin’ good!

The notion of an LGBT choir is altogether foreign to me – I grew up in Singapore, where LGBT visibility exists primarily where you know to look for the signs and seek it out. I came out comfortably at 16 and never sought out the local LGBT community. I felt different from my circle of straight friends, but I was happy being an outlier.

At the same time, I had sung in amateur and professional choirs for 10 years up until I was 18. By that point, I had firmly fallen out of love with choral singing. So call it serendipity, or irony, but I call it “Pinkie Magic” I had certainly inhaled that I soon found myself nervously standing in line for my Pink Singers audition this season and wearing my desire to join the Pinkies blazenly on my sleeve.

Sam with John, our accompanist

This whirlwind of a season promised particular excitement as the choir was travelling to Munich for the Various Voices LGBT Choir Festival. My previous choral experience had sent me on similar overseas trips, so I knew what an experience it would be. Munich didn’t disappoint: Watching other choirs performing with such pride, looking around at the crowds knowing that everyone present was at least a strong LGBT ally, having John Flinders (our regular accompanist) conducting us in a concert so well-received we got 2 standing ovations. Lastly, making friends with choirs from politically dissenting countries. These experiences were humbling and inspiring; the latter reminding me that us singing together is a beautifully reckless act. Even as external forces threaten to crush us, we hold our arms open in love.

Sam sings the solo for This is Me in Munich

The concert was upon us in no time at all. Powering through a long tech, I soon found myself pinning on my pink rose, slicking on one last coat of lipstick and step-digging to our opening song Freedom (90). The pre-concert jitters melted away at the sight of the cheering audience. As we closed with a rousing arrangement of What’s Up with our guest choir, Spectrum, I could scarcely believe my first Pinkies concert was over.

Choreo at Science Museum Lates

I came into my first rehearsal with an inkling that there was something about The Pink Singers. As I bid this season goodbye, and put away crinkled sheet music, I am convinced: The Pink Singers truly are special. And I get to be a part of it.


What would be on your MixTape? part 2

On Saturday June 16th The Pink Singers will be singing songs from our 35th Birthday mix-tape. What songs would be on your favourite compilation?


We thought we’d take the opportunity to introduce you to another handful of the Pinkies Management Committee – those stalwart volunteers who keep the Pinkie machine motoring forward. We asked them what three songs they’d have on their mix-tape, and why.


Paul Simon- Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes. My favourite song from my favourite album. Conjures up memories of long summer afternoons.
Frank Turner – love Ire and Song. My mum and I have almost groupie status over Frankie T! This song speaks to my inner activist- it tells us to keep fighting the good fight no matter what.
The King Blues- I Want You. All songs that include Robson and Jerome must be awesome eh? They unfortunately didn’t authorise the Pinkies the use though! Fab to sing on long (or short) drives!
 



Train – drops of Jupiter – I love this song as it reminds me of my good old university days.
Gregory Porter – More than a woman to me – well it’s obvious isn’t it? It’s written about my beautiful fiancee Tracey Button 😍
Jack Johnson – Banana Pancakes – takes me back to my backpacking days lying on a beach in Fiji listening to this album over and over again – amazing!
 
 



 “Who do you think you are?”  The Spice Girls.  This song was released in my late teens, and I see as my ‘coming out anthem’.  It was played in the gay bars in Belfast in the late 90’s and will always be  synonymous with the time in my life when I was discovering a whole new side of myself, having moved to University and experiencing what it was to live by myself and the freedom of embracing my sexuality. And yes, I can do the dance moves.
“All about you”  McFly.  This is such a sweet romantic song, and very much describes a very simplistic and altruistic sense of being in a relationship.  It’s a proper karaoke favourite of mine, and in 2009, My husband Ben and I danced to it as our first dance as a married couple.
“Both Sides Now”  Joni Mitchell.  The Pink Singers sang the most heart wrenching arrangement of this song in my first season back in 2014.  The song is quite emotionally raw, and it provoked such a physiological response in me every time we sang it.  My heart beats faster and I get goose bumps every time I listened to it, and it still does.  It is by far my favourite ever Pinkies song that we have performed.


Now is the time to snap up a ticket for our Mix-Tape concert in June. Get them now – they’re hot!  This week we’ve introduced a group discount – 15% off the top two ticket prices for group bookings of 8 or more people.
Check out this promo video from an excited @TotallyPatsyMay

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Choral geekery

Almost half the Pink Singers are in Munich as this post is written, singing at Various Voices in Munich. We wish them much fun. They are singing a selection from our rep for MixTape – and mark my word!– tickets are going quick for our summer concert. With all the lowest-price tickets gone already, get yours ASAP!!


In the meantime, some of us are left in London without a rehearsal this week.  Sunny, one of our geeky Sopranos, took the opportunity of a gap in the schedule coinciding with her work 24h “hackathon“** to attempt to write some software to tell her when she is singing amiss to the Pinkies score.
Here was the aim:

  • Take a PDF of Pink Singers music
  • Write a programme to turn it into a MIDI
  • Singalong to the backing track and record that singing as a MIDI
  • Compare those MIDIs and output where the singing is amiss

 

It turns out that the following is true:

  • There is software out there that will do some of this for you, but that’s no fun. Start from scratch to learn things!
  • It’s really hard to turn a PDF of sheet music into an accurate MIDI
  • Sheet music and MIDI can be represented as MusicXML, which can be read by all sorts of software, like Sibelius and other cheaper software
  • It’s even harder to turn a vocal recording into an accurate MIDI, if you aren’t an operatically trained singer 🙁  :

Three Blind Mice Vocal Recording into MIDI


 
However, we got something working:

Read the PDF


Friendly interface


Note comparison code


Compared output


 
 
 
So, Sunny will be using her new software to make sure that Rainy Days and Mondays and other top tunes are spit-spot for our June 16th Concert.
In the meantime, we wish the Pinkies in Muenchen Viel Gluck!!
**hackathon – 24h to write computer code as quick as you can


What would be on your Mix-Tape?

On Saturday June 16th The Pink Singers will be singing songs from our 35th Birthday mix-tape. What songs would be on your favourite compilation? 


We thought we’d take the opportunity to introduce you to a handful of the Pinkies Management Committee – those stalwart volunteers who keep the Pinkie machine motoring forward. We asked them what three songs they’d have on their mix-tape, and why.



Scissor Sisters, I don’t feel like dancin’. This reminds me of going to a gay night at Black Sheep Bar in Croydon in my 20s with my best friends and dancing all night, on a Wednesday night. It was so fun and I was just getting to see how fun being gay could be!
George Michael and Elton John. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me. Before I got together with my girlfriend I started singing this one day walking along a mountain road in Taiwan and she joined in with me singing the harmony. I loved singing with her and I’ve never looked back!
I Choir, written specially for and sung by the Pink Singers. If you haven’t heard it, it’s on our CD “By Special Arrangement” so go – buy it now!



Orbital – ‘Halcyon’.  Orbital are my favourite band ever, got into them around aged 16 when I discovered ambient and electro music. This song is a piece of genius and makes me smile every time.
bis – ‘Eurodisco’.  This song reminds me of dancing my pants off to their gigs so many times across the years, its such a pop tune! Hopefully I will get the chance to dance at many more gigs to come in  future.
Marvin Gaye – ‘Abraham, Martin & John’.  This song reminds me of my mum, she loved Motown and I’d always sing and dance to their albums with her in our house. She brought so much love and light to my life, and like the song says ‘the good die young’. Never forgotten you Mum.



Forever & Ever (Demis Roussos). I threatened to sing this to my fiance on our wedding day, he HATES it!
Can you Feel it (The Jacksons). A disco classic that you cannot help but get up and dance to
 
Wow (Kylie Minogue) Love this song and it should have been a bigger hit! The Pinkies should definitely do a version!
 



We Can Do Better Than That, from The Last 5 Years by Jason Robert Brown. I could have chosen any song from this musical, or frankly anything by JRB. I love the concept of this show and the perfect way it’s played out.
Don’t Rain On My Parade from Funny Girl by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill. When the choir went to Manchester last August for Hand in Hand, while everyone else was at the launch party I went to see this musical at the Opera House (a much better night out by my standards 😉 ). I already knew I loved Sheridan Smith (leading the cast) but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with the show. This show recurs throughout the show, firstly as her wanting to impress her boss, and then her husband to be, and then finally as a show of female independence.
Into The Words, from Forbidden Broadway (sensing a theme yet?!). I was lucky enough to play the clarinet for an amateur dramatic production of Into The Woods which, unfortunately, and controversially, cemented my dislike for Sondheim musicals. This song provided my with some relief during a long week!


More coming next week!  In the meantime, now is the time to snap up a ticket for our Mix-Tape concert in June.  Get them now – they’re hot!


London's LGBT+ Community Choir