DENVER GAY MEN’S CHORUS KICKS OFF PRIDE WEEK WITH JULIAN RUSH IMPACT AWARD

Denver Gay Men's Chorus, Rocky Mountain Arts Association News

The Denver Gay Men’s Chorus kicked off PRIDE week Monday night with the official choral concert and the inaugural presentation of the Julian Rush Community Impact Award, recognizing individuals who have made a significant impact in Denver’s LGBTQIA+ community.  

Rush, the Denver-based pastor, was the nation’s first openly gay clergy. He was a noted composer, playwright and activist.   This year’s recipients included Jean Hodges, President of PFLAG,  Bob Janowski, a beloved and pioneering figure in LGBTQ healthcare, and Christopher Sloan, grand marshal at the first PRIDE parade 50 years ago, and again this year.

“Each of these individuals mirrors Julian Rush’s passion for service, community-building, and uplift and empower the LGBTQ community in Denver,” said Johnny Nichols Jr., the artistic and managing director of the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus.

Serving as the National President of PFLAG, Jean Hodges has championed the cause of LGBTQ+ rights with unparalleled vigor. Under her leadership, PFLAG expanded its outreach and support, fostering a more inclusive and affirming society. Her efforts in Boulder and beyond have provided critical support to countless LGBTQ+ individuals and their families, ensuring that love and acceptance prevail over prejudice and discrimination.

Janowski, a distinguished medical professional whose contributions to healthcare and the LGBTQ+ community are exemplary. He has tirelessly advocated for health equity, reducing healthcare disparities, ensuring that medical professionals are well-equipped to address the unique needs of LGBTQ+ patients.

Christopher Sloan, better known by his stage name Christi Layne, is a trailblazing entertainer and activist, and a pillar of  Denver’s drag and LGBTQIA+ communities since the early 1970s. He filed the permit for Denver’s very first Pride parade in 1976, marking a significant moment in our city’s history. Over the decades, Christi has used his platform to raise awareness and funds for numerous causes, including HIV/AIDS research and LGBTQIA+ rights. His performances are legendary, not only for their entertainment value but for the powerful messages they convey about acceptance and equality.

The award will be presented annually during each Pride month concert.

DGMC’s Pride month concert Shout! wrapped Monday night at the Newman Center, marking the kick off to Pride week and the Official Denver Pride Chorus Concert. Raising their voices to the songs of the LGBTQIA+ (including allies) composers and performers who inspired the world with their truth, Shout! featured songs of justice, equality, elation, and love.

Taking the concert title Shout! literally, Nichols jumped on Facebook Live towards the end of the show to protest and join the calls of resignation for Colorado GOP Chairman Dave Williams following his comments denouncing Pride month.

Audiences then joined the chorus in a reprise of “Stand in the Sun,” an original work by Connor Smith, with lyrics that emphasize the struggle and love of the LGBTQIA+ community. “We will stand in the sun, fight for our rights to love, we will hold our head up high. We stand together, we stand together. Heart in heart, hand in hand, this is where change starts.” 

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