SA’s first all-gay men’s choir lends hope to the voiceless

South Africa’s first all-gay men’s choir, Mzansi Gay Choir (MGC), is all about raising the LGBTQI+ flag high, with each individual member of the band serving their own activism through music.

The 15-member choir, established by activist Thami Dish Kotlolo and singer Kelly Khumalo, was initially meant to only exist for one event but because of their brilliant singing and what they stand for, Kotlolo decided to keep it and he believes it will live long and do wonderful work, said 27-year-old choir member, Matthew Songezo Motsoeneng, who hails from Qwa-Qwa in the Free State.

The ensemble has gone on to grace top stages in the four years of its existence, including backing Kelly Khumalo’s One Night concert, on Idols SA, sang with notable acts such as KB Motsilanyane, Brenda Mtambo and Wanda Baloyi among others, and was recently featured on the 11th edition of the Feather Awards.

And things seem to just get better and better for this group of spirited singers.

“MGC, the choir of the people as we call it, is a voice for us who aren’t great speakers but are gifted singers. Using our voices, we aim to tackle LGBTIQ+ issues, while also injecting a positive spirit in the air,” said Motsoeneng.

“We always make sure that when we sing, we disseminate a message, uplift people and create a united voice that sounds bigger and bolder – that no one is alone, no matter what one’s gift is, we are all in this together.

“Also, in our authenticity we want others to be able to see themselves in us because we believe we represent different dynamics and people that exist in South Africa,” he added.

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          PIC: Supplied

Not only is MGC the first all-male gay choir in Mzansi but they are the also the first on the African continent and that, for them, represents joining the forefront of the fight for recognition of LGBTIQ+ rights alongside other activists who have been on this journey for many years.

And based on the responses Motsoeneng has received since the choir’s inception, he reckons there is still a big gap for more vibrant and fearless leaders who will contribute to society and motivate others.

As a team, choir members share their experiences as a way of educating each other about different experiences and dynamics that exist in society so they are better equipped to tackle conversations and societal issues that take their community forward.

They always sing gender non-conforming songs that are inspirational and send a strong message that South Africa “can do better”.

“We have become a vessel for others to vent their feelings. Since joining the choir, I have received emails from so many people seeking advice on how to manoeuvre as part of the LGBTIQ+ community in this kind of society.

This is all the proof we need that more and more beacons of hope are needed and that is what we aim to be, with every song that we sing, with every stage that we occupy – to achieve a better South Africa one song at a time,” said Motsoeneng.

The group also hosted its first beneficiary concert last Friday in honour of a fellow choir member, Siyabonga Phandza, who was diagnosed with stage five kidney disease and requires dialysis three times a week.

“Through this concert, we want to help our own. This is our way of saying ‘Siya must live’ and that we stand with him and every other person who needs support.

This concert was extremely important for us,” explained Motsoeneng.

And when asked what lies in the future for MGC, the zealous Motsoeneng said it is full of “glitter and sparkles, with many more projects coming up”.

The Sunday Independent 

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