How Forte connects Toronto through the power of song
The city’s Gay Men’s Chorus provides inspiration—and an inclusive space—to members and audiences alike
BY LORA GRADY
The first time you join the audience of a Forte show, you’ll understand why the chorus attracts music fans from across the GTA—and beyond. The gay men’s choir, which has competed across Canada and performed with powerhouses like Demi Lovato and Jully Black, has a reputation for spreading joy everywhere it goes.
Forte was formed in 1997, but I only discovered them a few years ago through a good friend who joined. The group welcomes anyone who is male-identified or with a non-binary gender expression or identity to audition. (There are no questions or requirements related to legal sex or sex assigned at birth when you’re being considered for membership.) Forte’s mission is to be a progressive voice in the LGBTQ+ movement and to provide a sense of belonging and community engagement through music. After the first show I attended, I’ve tried to make it out to every single one since.
The power of Forte’s members’ voices in unison is overwhelming in the best way; it can move you to tears and then lift you up out of your seat to clap along. At a recent show, Forte paid tribute to female artists, educators and leaders from around Toronto and the world, singing songs written and composed by women. I got goosebumps during each song (and fought back tears during a Carole King medley).
Aside from its shows, Forte makes it a priority to support its Toronto LGBTQ+ community, and the chorus has performed at the Toronto Pride Flag Raising Ceremony at City Hall, the Candlelight AIDS Vigil, the Pride and Remembrance Run and the Orlando/Pulse Nightclub Memorial. They’ve also sung the national anthem at Raptors, Blue Jays and Argonauts games—talk about hometown love.
I’ve had the pleasure of introducing other friends and family to the magic that makes up this incredible choir and they always agree: it’s impossible to leave a performance without a smile on your face.