On Thursday February 5th 2015 the Dallas Mavericks were in town and were scheduled to play against our hometown team The Kings at The Sleep Train Arena. The SGMC was invited to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” before the game. Coincidentally, for the SGMC and for the Kings- we were both in our 30th years.
Many of us had been inside the Sleep Train Arena, aka Arco Arena, as an attendee of many events, such as games, concerts. We went several floors down under the stadium in to the bowels of the arena to warm up. Many of the Kings walked by as we warmed up and practiced our song. It was hard for some to contain their excitement at meeting some of them.
We were excited, this was going to be on TV and watched by many who had never seen or heard us before! In our repertoire is a special arrangement of the Francis Scott Key masterpiece that was arranged for the SGMC by former and founding member, Rick Whitnah.
We admit, that many SGMC members were not certain what type of reception we would receive at a sporting event. Even though many were long term fans of The Kings and we had been invited to sing – many gay men have not been made to feel welcome in sports in the past. But many of us were optimistic and confident that we would be loved by all.
We walked onto the court and stood spots, we had done a sound check earlier, so we knew our places. There were cameras in the stadium from local news. But, we were focused on Steven our Artistic Director and conductor. Our focus was the best we can be and we were determined to make our short time out there count and make a lasting impression.
Our soloist, Jason Pettit started off with the opening lines, then softly we started to come, very softly in with “Whose broad stripes and brights stars…” eventually building to a fantastic, energetic and emotionally charged crescendo. Our images were projected on to a several large screens overhead as well. Pleasantly, everyone clapped and we could see a few people tearing up after we sang. For many present this was one of their first exposures to a gay men chorus and they loved us.
Unknown to us, at the time, the Sacramento Kings Dancers were unfolding and eventually waving a very large American flag, right behind us, as we sang. They were within two feet of the back row, but we were so “in the moment” we didn’t even see them until we watched video of it later.
Much to our pleasure the crowd cheered loudly, many stood up and applauded. It was our first, but not our last performance for the Kings and it felt good to feel welcomed and accepted. We are happy to be able to say we have been invited back to sing for the Kings this fall.