Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



SPIRITUALITY: Dana Brown-How Can I Keep from Singing?

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Music is a powerful thing. An expression of the spirit. With most faiths the use of the voice—whether chanting, singing or speaking incantations—is essential to worship, meditation, and prayer.

Dana Brown is a devoted Minister of Music. Through his direction of his choirs and through his selection of hymns and songs each week, he gives of his 'spirit' and shares an empowering voice. His congregation in the heart of Lakeview includes many GLBT members and weekly GLBT visitors trying to find a 'church home.'

His music fills that home.

Dana Brown:

How Can I Keep from Singing?

I grew up in a home filled with music, as my parents were musicians and teachers. Our home was also filled with church, which was the backdrop for the way our week progressed and how we treated each other. This doesn't mean that I loved church! I sat in the choir as a high school student and loved singing, and the music, but not much else. Perhaps it was my repressed gayness, but I felt set apart from it all.

Fast forward 10 years and I'm the music director at a small Presbyterian Church on the South Side of Chicago, directing a choir of 15-20 hearty souls. It was still my perception that if I brought my talent, but not my gayness to church, everything was fine. Bringing my boyfriend to church sure got the coffee hour going —but it also felt like we were the poster children for 'something different'.

In September 1998, I was hired as the director of music at Broadway United Methodist Church in the Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, where Gregory Dell is the Pastor. Greg was brought up on charges of defying church law by marrying two men in a ceremony which took place one week after I'd started my employment. Nothing in life prepared me for the next six months: the impending trial brought a level of intensity—as well as motivation—that I'd never experienced before in a church setting. Those six months included three visits from [ anti-gay activist ] Fred Phelps, massive media attention, a lot of heartache, and finally a trial in which the guilty verdict turned into a one-year suspension from official ministry.

I was interviewed the day after the verdict by Channel 5; my comment to the interviewer, fighting back tears, was my sorrow at all those people—gay, straight or otherwise—who would not be able to benefit from Greg's ministry while he was suspended. I muttered, stupefied, the words to a song which had suddenly taken on new meaning: 'if love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?'

One of the great pleasures of my life is directing the Broadway Choir, a group of 40-plus singers who rehearse on Thursdays and sing most Sundays at Broadway. We've sung at two Annual Conferences of the UMC, the Lakeview Action Coalition Convention, the Human Rights Campaign Annual Dinner with John Kerry as keynote speaker, and various other appearances outside of the church. We sing to the glory of God, with our full diversity on display. For our first CD release, Sing and Be Not Silent, I wrote a song 'Until the Table Extends to Us All', a reaction to the Boy Scout decision of 2000, the UMC General Conference decision to start defining its language toward sexual orientation more exclusively ( redefined again in 2004 ) , and my outrage toward the church for banning Pastor Dell from ministry.

'Until the table extends to us all, until the night knows no darkness to fall, until the privilege of freedom includes mine, until religion is sanctioned by love, until justice rolls down from above, until dignity's restored to every soul, I will sing my song'.

I would never try to preach to those not ready to hear it, but I meet a lot of gay people who are 'allergic' to church.

My belief in God has been the result of many experiences, most notably being able to recover from my parents' death at a relatively young age, and the belief that God celebrates me for who I am as a gay man, musician, lover, human being and citizen of the world.

There are many ways in which music defines my spirituality: at the same time, music can be mystic, spiritual, primitive, transcendental, joyous, ecstatic and uplifting. I try to find all of those elements in my music choices. Hopefully, within the pursuit of doing this music together as a choir and presenting it to others, we start reflecting that diversity of music, love and emotion to each other as we reach for a common goal: to experience God within each other. 'If love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?'

Dana Brown is the Assistant Professor of Opera and Vocal Coaching at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and the Director of Music at Broadway United Methodist Church, 3344. N. Broadway Street, Chicago, . E-mail .

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

LETTER Thank you, Pope Francis 2020-10-22
- I never thought I would live to see the day when a pope would endorse civil rights for LGBTQ couples. Praise God for His Grace. Also, the many Roman Catholic individuals and organizations who worked so ...

Gay News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett 2020-10-22
- Women-Church Convergence, a coalition of Catholic-rooted organizations including DignityUSA, deplores the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. We have serious concerns about the judgment of any nominee ...

Gay News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Lambda Legal responds to nomination of Judge Barrett 2020-10-13
--From a press release - Lambda Legal sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging its members to oppose Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The rushed confirmation hearings began today for President Trump's nominee to fill the seat of the late ...

Gay News

LETTER Vote 2020-10-03
- President Trump, you have had almost four years to lead the United States and have failed us by your own choosing. Whether it be in foreign policy and domestic policy you have not protected the United States ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT As a gay bipolar man, I've learned to live with suicidal thoughts 2020-10-01
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 20. LGBTQ+ youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth are almost five ...

Gay News

LGBTQ HISTORY MONTH My Notorious RBG moment 2020-10-01
- In the 1990s, the U.S. Senate was attempting in every possible way to censor this new thing called the internet. The senators soon came up with an idea to stop information that might be objectionable to ...

Gay News

OP-ED: Ruth Bader Ginsburg bent the moral arc toward justice 2020-09-21
- Like so many Americans across the country, I, too, am mourning the news that U.S. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87. As a soft-spoken firebrand ...

Gay News

MOMBIAN True stories, trans tales and more in new picture books 2020-09-16
- New books can be a delightful relief in these days of quarantine. Here are some of the many new LGBTQ-inclusive picture books that just came out last month. (See for even more.) The Fighting Infantryman, ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINTS Get involved in Michigan now 2020-09-15
- You probably feel anxious and frustrated by the political climate and the risk that the Republicans will cheat their way to victory or the Democrats will bumble their way to defeat. The best thing you can ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT The common thread of LGBTQ+ stigma and mental health 2020-09-02
- The relationship between the LGBTQ+ community and mental health has always varied from country to country. But when religion enters the conversation, a whole new aspect escalates the stigma. Countries all over the world have high ...

Gay News

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Wear a mask 2020-09-02
- Dear editor: Wear a mask. Illinois made great strides fighting COVID-19, but it will take sustained effort and discipline to keep the virus under control. Illinois doctors are asking everyone to take two simple actions when ...

Gay News

My case for being in Congress 2020-09-01
By Dani Brzozowski - "I already told my family that if I catch this virus — God forbid — I'm not going to the hospital. I'll pop myself or cut myself rather than die in the hospital, miserable and alone." ...

Gay News

LETTER What's in a name? And striving for racial equality 2020-08-19
- What's in a name? Dear community: The growing debate over the name change of Boystown is reflective of a broader cultural tectonic shift on race, gender, sexual orientation and trans issues that take place in many ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT Coming-out letter 2020-07-28
- Mom, Starting this letter is by far one of the toughest things I have done in a long time, and trust me, I've done plenty of difficult things. First of all I want to note that this letter is not intended ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINTS In support of the fair tax 2020-07-25
- Passage of the fair tax will improve the lives of the state's LGBTQ community. As CEO of Equality Illinois, the state's civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer Illinoisans, I can attest that ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs     
Privacy Policy      Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.