FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Craig Cipollini
February 9, 2016
Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC
Announces 2016 Harmony Award Recipients
Washington, D.C. — The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC (GMCW) announces three Harmony Awards that will be given in the Spring of 2016. The award is given to an individual from the community, an organization, and an individual from within the Chorus family who exemplify GMCW’s mission and work to champion equality. The National Center for Transgender Equality, two of GMCW long-time singers and supporters, as well as the founder of GMCW will receive the organization’s highest honors. “In our 35th Anniversary year, GMCW is looking back to our foundations as well as forward to the future of the LGBT movement in honoring these remarkable activists and allies,” says Chase Maggiano, GMCW’s Executive Director.
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people, will receive the 2016 Community Organization Harmony Award. Founded in 2003 by transgender activists, NCTE is devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy on national issues of importance to transgender people. By empowering transgender people and allies to educate and influence policymakers and others, NCTE facilitates a strong and clear voice for transgender equality in our nation’s capital and around the country. NCTE has been a national leader in effecting policy change around employment protection, healthcare equality, fair housing, school safety, and criminal justice protection for transgender people. “GMCW is honored to highlight the important work of NCTE and looks forward to working together to create a safer, more inclusive world for our trans brothers and sisters,” says Maggiano.
Christopher Grieder and Stuart Kopperman have been an invaluable part of the GMCW family for a combined 46 years. Since their mutual commitment to the Chorus is quite exceptional, both gentlemen will be receiving the 2016 Individual Chorus Harmony Award. With this duo having served as prop masters, costumers, members of the Board of Directors, members of GMCW’s small ensembles, generous donors to the Spring Affair live auction, and central organizers around the annual chorus retreat, GMCW is fortunate to have enjoyed the dedication and commitment of this wonderful couple. Mr. Grieder joined the chorus in 1990 and Mr. Kopperman joined in 1996. It is in the chorus where they first met. They have since married and are currently setting up their new home in Palm Springs. “Kit and Stu are shining examples of the vibrant heart and soul of GMCW,” reflects GMCW’s Board Chair Rob Hall.
Marsha Pearson, an LGBT ally and activist, is GMCW’s founder. After hearing a concert of the visiting San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, Ms. Pearson printed and passed out fliers, arranged for rehearsal space, and enlisted early support to start Washington, DC’s first gay chorus in 1981. The first meeting took place at the former Gay Community Center on Church Street with 18 men, and Marsha, in attendance. “Someone had to do it,” Ms. Pearson reflects. “It didn’t have to be me, but I knew it just had to happen.” Since that time, Marsha has remained a firm supporter of LGBT rights, and is passionate about the environment and, of course, music. She currently resides outside of Philadelphia, PA, where she owns an online marketing firm. Board Chair Rob Hall notes: “We simply would not be here today without Marsha’s life-affirming passion for LGBT equality.”