Seattle Men's Chorus Supports LGBTQ+ Refugees With Love Beyond Borders Concert

This original oratorio combines songs and stories to spotlight the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ refugees escaping persecution for a better life.

By: Feb. 05, 2024
Seattle Men's Chorus Supports LGBTQ+ Refugees With Love Beyond Borders Concert

Seattle Men's Chorus sings music that makes a difference with Love Beyond Borders, a concert celebrating the power of love even through the most challenging of circumstances.

With LGBTQ+ people being among the most vulnerable of all refugee groups, this original oratorio combines songs and stories to spotlight the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ refugees escaping persecution for a better life.

The Seattle Men's Chorus concert will also feature compelling videos woven throughout this extraordinary, must-see performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18 at Seattle's Benaroya Hall and to audiences around the world via livestream and on-demand.

“This concert is the first of its kind. I am so grateful to the Seattle Men's Chorus for shining a light on this important issue,” said LGBTQ+ refugee rights activist Michael Failla, who divides his time between Seattle and Puerto Vallarta. “I hope it educates and inspires the public to help LGBTQ+ refugees and lets them know what they're going through, because most people I know have absolutely no idea of the atrocities our fellow LGBTQ+ people are going through on a regular basis. I really hope this music and this concert touches a lot of people and inspires them to take action.”

Songs featured in Love Beyond Borders include “God Help the Outcasts” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, “Rise Up” by Andra Day and “Love You in the Light,” a song inspired by the story of a couple Ibrahim and Mahmoud, who Failla helped resettle in Canada in 2022.

Following a harrowing escape under bullet fire after six months of being jailed and tortured by the Syrian miliary for being gay, “Love You in the Light” was a symbol of hope for the men as they struggled to make their way into Europe, and eventually into Canada.

“The music really matters,” said Seattle Men's Chorus Artistic Director Paul Caldwell. “It matters deeply, and it's way past time for everyone to hear.”

After seeing the 2016 Emmy Award-winning documentary “Out of Iraq” – which chronicles the hardships and love story of U.S. Marines' Iraqi translator Nayyef and Iraqi soldier Btoo (who today are a happy and successful couple living in Seattle) on their journey to become safe, free and resettled – Caldwell was inspired to create the Love Beyond Borders concert about LGBTQ+ refugees.

He asked Failla, a longtime friend, to introduce chorus members and songwriters to some of the refugees Failla was helping. Soon, some of the refugees who were in hiding, in active migration and who were struggling to stay alive were communicating from their hiding places on What's App or participating in Zoom meetings to talk with and inspire the songwriters and chorus members – many of whom became involved in supporting the refugees during their darkest days. These stories will be told with the music of the concert in a follow-up documentary scheduled for release this fall.

“I have all these kids in hiding in Uganda, in Kenya, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Lebanon—I've got them everywhere, and it's hard to keep their hopes up,” Failla said. “I can only imagine, if the refugees got a chance to hear this music, then it would just excite and inspire them so much to keep moving forward. So, my hope with this concert is not only that it's for everybody going to Benaroya Hall in Seattle—I hope that my refugees who are in active migration are going to be able to hear this music, realize that they're acknowledged, and it will inspire them to live another day.”

In more than 80 countries, it is a crime or fundamentally unsafe to be LGBTQ+ or HIV-positive. Worldwide, individuals face violence, prison time or the death penalty due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to Immigration Equality.

Just weeks ahead of its initial premier in March 2020, the concert was canceled due to COVID shutdowns. Seattle Men's Chorus is eager to finally share these stories with concertgoers this February.

Tickets for the Love Beyond Borders concert – as well as livestream and on-demand tickets – are available for purchase ($39-$99) at SeattleMensChorus.org.

The internationally renowned Seattle Women's Chorus (founded in 2002) and Seattle Men's Chorus (founded in 1979) together make one of the largest community choral organizations in North America, and stand out among the largest LGBTQ-identified choruses in the world. Seattle Men's Chorus and Seattle Women's Chorus comprise one of the Pacific Northwest's most vibrant music organizations, performing in Seattle's most prestigious venues for an annual audience of more than 30,000 patrons across the Puget Sound. Collectively there are more than 300 singing members, along with staff and volunteers who support both Seattle Men's Chorus and Seattle Women's Chorus. They are a leading voice for the LGBTQ+ community and offer both outreach events and main stage concert performances annually.




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