On a muggy Saturday morning at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, Chris Colbert sits in a waiting room after auditioning for the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida. He's just been accepted, but a handful of hopefuls wait their turn at a try.
"For a long time, growing up, I've been surrounded by music, but yet didn't have an outlet to express myself," Colbert says. "So this provided a wonderful opportunity to have the chance."
Among the auditioners is Kevin Fortney, a former singer with training in musical theater. He, like the rest of the men in the room, hope to join the chorus on its third concert season.
"I'm not nervous," Fortney says. Later, he stays after his audition to sing a showtune with the chorus' artistic director Gordon Roberts.
The chorus formed in September of 2010, after a sect split from the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus, which also used to be called the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida. Roberts remarks on the growth of his group, saying it grew from 20 men to more than 100 in its short lifespan.
"The big thing about them is that they are a family of guys that are so proud to be in this chorus, and so dedicated, that I'm in awe," Gordon says. "I've never seen such bonding in a chorus."
Auditions are held before each concert season, during which the main event is the holiday concert in December.
New member Colbert mentions "fellowship with other individuals" as a reason for wanting to join. Fellowship is clearly a cornerstone of the chorus, and relationships are forged easily among members. After his final interview, Fortney approaches president Bill Spinosa to say goodbye, and the two joke like old friends.
Spinosa says, "Our commitment is to inspire through song, and to have a place for gay men to come to feel safe, to be able to be themselves."
The chorus' holiday concerts are scheduled for Dec. 13, 14 and 15 at the Sunshine Cathedral. For tickets and more info, visit GayMensChorusofSouthFlorida.org.Follow @mariamurriel on Twitter, Instagram.