A Voice from the Chorus

A Voice from the Chorus

November 2, 2015
Categories: Seattle Men's Chorus, Seattle Women's Chorus, Seattle

My name is Lynn Goralski and I am a proud member of the Seattle Women’s Chorus and a 2nd Alto. I am also the Center Coordinator at the Oasis Youth Center in Tacoma where we serve queer youth from 14-24 years old.

I had the incredible honor to give a short talk about my experience with Flying House and the Seattle Women’s Chorus at the annual Glamour & Glitz gala. As I did that night, I want to quickly share what your support means from my personal perspective. First is visibility and second from that visibility comes hope, especially hope for those most at risk in our society, our LGBTQ Youth, and specifically our transgender and gender queer youth.

What you may not know is that I am a woman, but of a transgender journey. And for many of us, like me, being visibly transgender is obvious and brings with it ridicule, derisive comments, and isolation. But when trans people are seen being part of a larger group of diverse people and most importantly embraced and welcomed by those members, trans people become human, a real person and not a punch line.

Recently Bruce Jenner did an amazing job to increase our visibility. (As did Mitch Hunter and Zane Cimino, members of the Men’s Chorus who were wonderful on a local news report prior to that interview.) I am amazed how much Bruce’s life and mine are closely paralleled. (I intentionally use the pronoun “He” in referring to Bruce right now, as that is what he has asked.) See, he is a trans woman. I am a trans woman. He is transitioning later in life. I started my transition at age 50, or as I like to call it, the 15th anniversary of my 35th birthday. He ran track, I ran track. He was the World’s GREATEST Athlete. See? The comparisons just don’t seem to end…Ok, so maybe I wasn’t the world’s greatest athlete.

I truly hope the intensity of what he felt all his life and the concern for the future came through in his words. Many trans people, including myself, experienced the same pain, frustration, and worry for my future that he expressed.

I took a chance and auditioned for the Women’s Chorus in April of 2014, even though I am blessed with a rich bass voice. As Eric Lane Barnes (Associate Artistic Director) took me higher and higher through the musical scales, it became like - how can I describe it? - like cats howling on a fence! It was horrible and I knew it. But he offered me encouraging words and some great advice to increase my range and control.

At this point you should know that I have this quirk in my personality. I don’t like to be told NO when I want something badly. So I joined the Chorus as an associate and attended almost every rehearsal, helping out in any way that I could. I got to meet the other women and was very humbled at how welcoming and encouraging they were to me.

I had so much fun the first time that I warily auditioned again this past October. I gave it my best, and it was better, yet I still thought at the end of the audition that I didn’t make it. But Eric gave me this wink and a smile and words in not so subtle code. I was accepted. Me, of all people would be a part of these women who had already welcomed me. I would be visible.

I tell you this not to gain your praise. Rather I hope to personalize that you support not merely an organization but rather an incredible group of women and men, from the staff to each chorus member and associate. I am blessed to be a part of the Women’s Chorus even though I struggle to sing in the Alto2 range.

Through the generosity, and dare I say vital importance, of the youth ticket program, young people from across the region, and especially our LGBTQ youth, have the opportunity to come and hear the performances of both choruses.

This past February several of the youth from my work at Oasis attended the Women’s Chorus concert, Reel Women. One in particular was a young 19 year old transgender youth. He had participated in some singing while early in High School, but stopped singing when he began his transition in his senior year. I often talked to him about continuing his singing and his painting. He always looked like he didn’t believe me or that he wouldn’t be accepted now that he is transitioning.

After that show, I saw him with a huge smile and asked him how he liked the performance. He was beaming and he said to me, “you weren’t kidding when you described how nice the other women treat you. And even being trans you are able to be up there singing with them. I want to sing again.”  I was tearing up. This past April he was singing, through a choral music group at the UW Tacoma. Hope was given back to a young transgender man. Hope is what all our youth need. They can see a transgender person up on the risers and they are given a spark of hope that they can still participate in the activities of life they had previously enjoyed.

This is what your support of the choruses provides. Your support gives an avenue of visibility, which is humbling for me and I take as a huge responsibility. It gives hope to our youth, our next great generation. I personally and deeply thank you for your support and selfishly for allowing me the opportunity to participate. This opportunity is deeply affirming to me of who I am as a woman. But more importantly, I thank you from the bottom of my heart that your support allows our transgender youth to renew hope for a future and truly saves their lives.