Next weekend will be huge for the GenOUT Chorus as the local LGBT teen chorale, which operates under the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington umbrella, will have its first full-length concert on Saturday, Feb. 11.
“Youth Invasion” will be held at 8 p.m. (one performance only) at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St., N.E.) in a program featuring songs such as “I Was Here,” “Beautiful City,” “Be Like the Bird” and “Over the Rainbow.” Tickets are $20-35. Full details at gmcw.org.
GenOUT, formed in 2015, is the region’s first choir for LGBT youth and allies and is open to singers age 13-18. Paul Heins directs.
Becca Schaefer, a 16-year-old Arlington, Va., resident, learned about the chorus at a Leading With Pride conference she attended hoping to find more opportunities for her school’s GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliance), an LGBT-affirming club of which she’s co-president. She sings alto in the 15-member choir and will be performing Paramore’s “The Only Exception” as a solo with her ukulele in next weekend’s concert.
“A lot of times, it can feel like it’s you against the world,” Schaefer says. “Like no one’s ever felt the way you do. But when we all get together and get to talk, you can actually see that you’re not the only LGBT kid out there. GenOUT has been a really good space for me where I can talk about my experiences and attractions without feeling judged by the outside world.”
Schaefer lives with her parents in Arlington and enjoys music and her favorite shows like “Star Trek Voyager” and “Scrubs” in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out for about three years and I have been very lucky to come from a really supportive family, so I wasn’t too nervous telling anyone. Of course there’s always that anxiety before you tell somebody you love, but I’ve never been faced with anything but a continuation of that love.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Definitely Alan Turing. As someone who is in the community and also a scientist, he’s my idol.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
The Potomac River, right next to the Key Bridge. That view of the water and all of the lights of the city is unbeatable.
Describe your dream wedding.
Somewhere up in the mountains, with plenty of forest around, surrounded by the people I love.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Women’s rights. I firmly believe that Planned Parenthood should be protected, and that a woman should have the right to choose what happens to her future. I once stood in front of a sign with gory images that pro-life protesters were holding in front of my school for an hour until they finally left.
What historical outcome would you change?
Oh boy. How about the election and subsequent presidency of our current president? That’s definitely a historic moment I wish I didn’t have to live through.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Probably the launch of “Orange Is The New Black”! It’s a cast like no other I’d ever seen and the writing is phenomenal.
On what do you insist?
The person I’m talking to needs to be open minded enough to see another point of view and to not shut down a different opinion because it differs from theirs. And pineapple can never touch my pizza. Don’t even try.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I have neither of those things, but my most recent tumblr post says, “I just ate four macadamia nut cookies and I regret nothing.”
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“A Little Bit Too Peppy,” which was what a girl used to describe me when asked why she didn’t want to hang out with me.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I’d urge people to understand that they should love themselves for who they are and to not try so hard to fit into what society’s idea of a “normal” person is.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I don’t really believe in much beyond the physical world, but Magic 8-balls are pretty freaky. Something’s gotta be going on there.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Keep fighting the good fight! If you ever think it’s hopeless, just think of the millions of people who will rally behind you to ensure that our community is treated equally.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
I’d do it for all of the homeless LGBT youth. So many kids are just kicked onto the street by their parents when they find out their kid is LGBT.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The idea that bisexual people are just faking it for attention. Not just from straight people, but even in the community! How ridiculous to see somebody struggle through the same thing you do/did and still choose to exclude them.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
I can’t say I’ve watched many LGBT movies, but I really like the show “Grace and Frankie.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Not being allowed to double text. I have a lot to say and I cannot be confined to one text!
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
Last year I placed in a very selective science fair for high school students in Virginia. I worked really, really hard to get there and I’m pretty proud of myself!
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Well I’m not 18 yet, but in 10 years I’m sure I’ll tell myself that I should try to stress a little less, because all of my life is not decided by which classes I take or which college I get into. I’m still trying to chill out.
There are so many opportunities here! Where else could I be a part of a youth LGBT chorus like GenOUT?