The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra have welcomed many guest conductors through the years, but few have been as symbolically potent as Monday night’s choice: Tim Seelig, who directs the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.
Seelig will stand before the Mormon musicians — and some 21,000 patrons at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif. — to conduct one song as “an out, proud, gay man,” he said on Facebook.
Beyond that, Seelig said in the post, a group from the Gay Men’s Chorus were scheduled to join the MoTabs during the afternoon rehearsal to perform a single number with the famed LDS singers.
They planned to wear their “Love Can Build A Bridge” T-shirts, the gay leader wrote, “with the rainbow logo.”
The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often has had a fraught relationship with gay groups, including some within its ranks. The church maintains that being gay is not a sin, but acting on it is. It opposes same-sex marriage and any gay relationships.
In November 2015, the church instituted a policy that declared same-sex LDS couples to be “apostates” and bars their children from Mormon rituals until they are age 18 or older.
Seelig agreed to the guest conductor invitation “with eyes wide open,” he said in his post. “We have no delusions about changing the course of the Mormon religion. Nor does this wipe away the pain inflicted on the LGBTQ community over the years.”
Still, the gay musician reasoned, there could be “a young closeted Mormon in the audience or who finds out about tonight’s concert and may see a glimmer of hope.”
That, Seelig said, “is enough for us.”