Vancouver Men's Chorus sings for gay Syrian refugees

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      A local men's choir has helped raise enough money to enable two gay Syrians to apply for refugee status in Vancouver.

      It came, in part, through the Vancouver Men's Chorus's Making Spirits Bright performance last night at St. Paul's Anglican Church (1130 Jervis Street). Members of the choir have also contributed private donations to help the refugees, who are in hiding in Turkey.

      "The guys feel so good about being able to do this kind of thing," VMC spokesperson Paul Stacey told the Straight by phone. "It was an awesome, awesome occasion."

      Last night's VMC fundraising concert occurred at the same time as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was preparing to meet Syrian refugees at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

      The VMC is Canada's first gay chorus and has been performing for more than 30 years. According to Stacey, there are about 90 men in the choir.

      There are two more VMC Making Spirits Bright performances tonight (8 p.m.) and on Saturday (3 p.m.), also at St. Paul's Anglican.

      Stacey said that VMC alumnus Darcy Smith is working with Rainbow Refugee to deal with the administrative aspects of bringing the gay Syrian men to Canada.

      Rainbow Refugee is a Vancouver-based community group that helps people seeking refugee status who fear persecution in their home country on the basis of sexual orientation, HIV status, or gender identity.

      The VMC has also come out with a CD called Making Spirits Bright Live, which features 20 of the best tracks from these concerts.

      "It's the first CD we've done in about five years," Stacey said. "It's selling great at the shows."

      On Monday (December 14), the CD can be ordered through the VMC website. It will also be available at the Scotiabank branch at 1500 Marine Drive in North Vancouver and at the Scotiabank branch at 591 Cardero Street in Vancouver's Coal Harbour neighbourhood.

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