September 14, 2016 at 3:16 pm EDT | by Joey DiGuglielmo
QUEERY: Justin Fyala
Justin Fyala, gay news, Washington Blade

Justin Fyala (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Justin Fyala arrived in Washington Aug. 1 to succeed Chase Maggiano as executive director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.

The 32-year-old Pittsburgh native spent the last five years in Chicago leading the Windy City Gay Chorus. GMCW board chair Rob Hall said in a press release that the selection committee was wowed by Fyala’s “passion for choral music” and “full complement of talents.”

Fyala says he’s excited to work with “the phenomenal community of people at the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.” Its season kicks off with “Let’s Misbehave,” a cabaret show at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on Nov. 12. The full season is available at

Fyala lives with his partner, Nathan Pfundstein, in Shaw. He enjoys reading, hiking with his dog, studying car design, singing and traveling in his free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I came out to my mom when I was 13. Her reaction was, “Well, obviously, what do you want for dinner?” I am fortunate that my coming out was uneventful. Over the course of my work with LGBTQ organizations, I have heard countless coming out stories — some beautiful and some terribly upsetting. I dream of a day when every person reacts like my mother did when someone comes out to them. That’s why GMCW, and particularly our GenOUT Chorus for LGBTQA youth, mean so much to me.

Who’s your LGBT hero?

I am lucky enough to have two. One is my Uncle Jason. The youngest sibling on my mom’s side, he’s less than 10 years older than me. He paved the way for me to come out by going first. He encourages me to achieve greatness, in whatever way that looks to me. A few years ago, he married my Uncle Eric. They are the hippest and happiest couple I know. The other is Paul Caldwell. He taught me how to stand up for myself and everything I know about fundraising. He also gave me permission to use the word “no.”

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

Town Danceboutique, hands down.

Describe your dream wedding.

Getting married at the Justice of the Peace then traveling to the south of France with our best friends.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Common-sense gun regulation and the continually falling rate of governmental funding for artistic expression.

What historical outcome would you change?

The nation’s response to Howard Unruh’s Walk of Death.

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

The release of Adele’s third album “25.”

On what do you insist?

Compassion and competence.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

A story about a spectacular lady, Bea Arthur, from Upworthy. En route to work one day, she stopped to rescue a German Shepherd running along the highway. Later it was discovered to have belonged to Barbra Streisand.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

“Yes, This Is My Full-Time Job”

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

Ask why science had wasted its time.

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

Beyond the physical world we have seen? Multiple universes.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

If not us, then who?

What would you walk across hot coals for?

A 1960 Porsche Abarth 356B Carrera GTL

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That there’s only one way to be L, G, B, T, Q or you.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“The Birdcage.” Best line: “Those? Well, one does want a hint of color.”

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Circumcision of any person

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

Nobel Peace Prize

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

How to fly.

Why Washington?

It’s a magical town where you never know who you’ll meet when you’re tripping on the busted sidewalk.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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