2 South Florida ensembles celebrate Pride through music

2 South Florida ensembles celebrate Pride through music

FORT LAUDERDALE - Celebrating pride through the classical music of the South Florida Symphony Orchestra and through the beautiful harmony of the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida.

Retiring after 37 years, Gary Keating had his final performance in December. He not only directed the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida, but he's also the one who started it back in 1986, the first of its kind in the state.

"We had an active MCC church and a gay synagogue but almost nothing else. And I thought 'wouldn't this be an amazing thing to have a gay men's chorus in South Florida and what it might do for the community?'," Keating recalled.

"So this is more than just about music and singing?" CBS News Miami's Ted Scouten asked Keating.

"Oh it's so much more," he said with a smile. "When I started this chorus there were a lot of people whose family did not accept them. I try to think of this as a community, a community of men who care about each other, who want to make wonderful music, who want to spread the gospel that acceptance and love is the way to go."

It grew. Today 170 men sing in the Gay Men's Chorus. Keating said they not only make beautiful harmony, but they help change attitudes.

"When this chorus started it began changing hearts and minds because everybody had their own imagination about what someone that was gay was like," Keating said.

Sebrina Alfonso is the music director and founder of the South Florida Symphony Orchestra.

"I knew I wanted to be a conductor since 7th grade," Alfonso said.

It had its proud beginnings in Key West 25 years ago, then moved to serve all of South Florida making Broward its new base. Alfonso had to make her own way to get to where she is today.

"Everything I did in my career, I did myself. I pursued orchestras, I created orchestras, I created my own opportunities because I wasn't really being given them," she said. "I did feel that being a woman, being gay, being Latina, being a little different because I was from Key West is why I wasn't maybe quite how people pictured you to be."

Conducting an orchestra of 85 musicians, sharing her passion for classical music with more than 100,000 students over the years, and living an authentic life with her wife and business partner of 13 years, Alfonso is being honored as a pioneer this Pride month.

"The truth is I did achieve what I wanted. I'm doing what my dream was, which is to be a conductor. I hope what people learn is that it may not be exactly the way you picture it, but you can accomplish whatever your heart needs, that your soul needs," she said with a smile.

Keating also earned the title of a pioneer. At 71, he said he still has work to do.

"I am energized and driven to make sure that this next generation of kids, whether they're gay, straight, bi, transgender, it doesn't matter, they just need to grow up honored for who and what they are."

Alfonso and Keating are two of several pioneers featured in the History Fort Lauderdale "Take Pride: A Retrospective of LGBTQ Life in South Florida." The exhibition is at the Galleria Fort Lauderdale until the end of the month. 

Click Here to learn more about the South Florida Symphony Orchestra and its upcoming concert dates.

Click Here to learn more about the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida. You can also check out their upcoming concerts including their "Disney Pride in Concert" performance at the Parker this Saturday and Sunday.

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