Washington, DC ( April 22, 2015 ) — The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, DC ( GMCW ) and Youth For Understanding USA ( YFU ) today announced they will partner to conduct a first-ever visit by a gay chorus to Cuba. The nine-day concert tour, to take place July 10-18, 2015, will seek to raise awareness of issues faced by LGBTQ communities. The tour will encompass five performances in and around Havana and will include public forums designed to open lines of communication about social policy and LGBTQ equality.
"We have an incredible opportunity to help make a difference in the perception of the US and of LGBTQ people with this historic visit," said Chase Maggiano, executive director of the GMCW. "Thanks to our partnership with YFU, we will be able to meet the increasingly visible LGBTQ community in and around Havana and share our stories and learn new ones. As we know from our long history of concerts worldwide, person to person interaction can be a key driver of social change. We're thrilled to have this opportunity to help advance the dialogue by serving as cultural ambassadors."
The partnership between GMCW as a musical entity and YFU as an international educational entity gives this tour cultural sanction, where travel to Cuba is still limited to educational, religious, cultural, humanitarian and family purposes. Concerts in the tour will take place at prestigious locations in Cuba such as the Franciscan Monastery, and the group will meet with representatives from the Cuban National Center for Sex Education ( CENESEX ), a government-funded entity spearheaded by Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro. The tour is licensed through People to People Exchange, and operated in collaboration with Interplanner, the first and longest running provider of travel services between the US and Cuba.
Michael E. Hill, President & CEO of YFU, said the trip blends the two organizations' missions perfectly. "YFU is a catalyst for positive global change, and innovative programs like this provide the ultimate reality check to a worldview based on stereotypes, " Hill said. "Cultural exchange reinforces our common humanity. We are thrilled to be making this historic journey with GMCW, which represents our first-ever adult excursion."
On the tour, the chorus will have the opportunity to enjoy Cuba's distinctive culture, with an itinerary focused on the arts, education, health, and schools, along with the island's unique cuisine, music and architecture. The trip will offer many opportunities to meet with local business owners, artisans, lecturers, and everyday citizens.
Representatives of the two GMCW traveling ensembles, Potomac Fever and Rock Creek Singers, will comprise the performance chorus for this tour. They will be joined by GMCW and YFU staff and guests. More information on the tour is available at www.yfuusa.org/tours.