Denver women’s, gay men’s choruses commemorate Stonewall Uprising anniversary with concert

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DENVER -- The month of June is known as Pride Month: a time to celebrate the accomplishments of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons as well as to acknowledge the struggles they have faced.

But why was June designated as the the month of pride?

It goes back 50 years ago, to June 28, 1969. It was on that day that persecuted members of the LGBT community fought back against their oppressors, deciding to be quiet no more.

The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, was raided constantly by police. Officers would harass, assault and arrest patrons during these raids. The night of June 28, 1969, was like so many before it as officers came in during a raid, roughing people up and trying to make arrests; but this time, patrons resisted.

A crowd grew outside the bar. As police were aggressively making arrests, the crowds began to throw stones and bottles at police. A riot ensued. Police barricaded themselves in the Stonewall Inn, and the crowd retaliated by setting the bar on fire. With more police arriving on scene, the fire was put out and the crowd, thousands strong, dispersed.

However, the riots would continue for days. These riots served as a catalyst for the LGBT rights movement. Now, hundreds of voices in Colorado are rising up to celebrate that history.

The Denver Gay Men's Chorus and the Denver Women's chorus, both part of the Rocky Mountain Arts Association, have teamed up to present a commissioned piece called "Quiet No More: A Choral Commemoration of the Stonewall Uprising."

"Some widely renowned choral composers from the LGBTQ community came together to create a story in eight movements that lays the stage for the Stonewall Uprising," said Allison Dozier, assistant artistic director for the Denver Women's Chorus. "[This piece] gives some sense of what was happening at that time. Describes the actual uprising, the riots that ensue and the beginnings of the LGBT liberation movement that was catalyzed that night."

James Knapp, artistic and managing director of the Denver Gay Men's Chorus, hopes that audiences will take in the history of Stonewall and be motivated to take action.

"It is with great humility that we share this history, the spirit," said Knapp, "Just hoping it's an inspiration for people to take action and to do something."

Members of the choirs will be traveling to New York City to sing "Quiet No More" at Carnegie Hall on June 27. More than 600 singers from throughout the United States will be at the Carnegie Hall concert.

If you want to see them perform in Denver, they have shows at The King Center Concert Hall this Friday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, June 8 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $22 to $50.

Tickets are available for purchase online.

On Thursday, New York Police Department Commissioner James O'Niell apologized for officers' actions at Stonewall.

Photojournalist Aubrey Morse produced this report.

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