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Queer Voices Gloucestershire article in Gloucestershire Live!

Community Reporter Will Luker interviewed director Zora about the Choir and our relationship with Jacqui Grange at Voices Gloucester.


"I saw a gap in the community" - We speak to the founder behind Gloucestershire's first LGBTQ+ community choir


Zora McDonald is Choral Director of Queer Voices Gloucestershire, who are in need of more singers. We also speak to Voices Gloucester who celebrate the city's history


Read the full article with pictures and media here:


Gloucestershire's first LGBTQ+ community choir are in need of more voices to their group called Queer Voices Gloucestershire, who have been in the county since July 2021.

With 43-year-old singer-songwriter, performer and music coach Zora McDonald as Choral Director, the backstory to why the choir formed also involves collaboration with Voices Gloucester, a programme that celebrates Gloucester's history, culture and identity through storytelling.

Zora tells us that the reason for starting the choir was simple. "I was fairly new to the area and we also had lockdown, so I needed new people to play music with", Zora says. "I moved from Brighton and I felt there was a lack of LGBTQ+ activities to get involved with compared to what I was used to".


"I always wanted to start a choir so I started by doing some internet-based research to see if there was a need for it, which there was and I decided just to give it a go!", Zora explains. "It was partly because I saw a gap in the community and I needed contact with my community as well".

Queer Voices Gloucestershire has around 20 core members and their weekly groups vary in size. Having been on the airwaves BBC Radio Gloucestershire to promote the choir, Zora would love even more voices to join. "Anybody from the county can join, especially those who think they can't sing because everybody can sing!".

Zora outlines that the choir is a predominantly adult choir but their youngest member at 17 attends some sessions and that anyone from the LGBTQ+ community and allies can take part with most rehearsals taking place in Gloucester. "We have a group of really diverse people, we really want to grow and we are mixed ability, so anybody who is interested can have a go".

One particular event that Queer Voices Gloucestershire have taken part in this year included a singing exhibition called Queer City Voices at St Mary de Crypt Church in Gloucester. With their performances showcasing songs from the LGBTQ+ and civil rights movements, traditional folk and contemporary genres, the occasion was organised by Voices Gloucester, which is supported by public bodies such the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England.

"Voices Gloucester is about celebrating the very different stories of people in Gloucester", says Creative Director Jacqui Grange. With the project a year old, Jacqui explains that their strapline is 'Our living history told by you' with members of different communities being given a chance to find new ways of sharing and expressing their history.

"The project came through our Community Grants programme and our design to try and find ways for people to tell their story which might be via film, in song or through art", Jacqui says. "We are really interested in people's stories, so if you have a story about Gloucester to tell or about your community do get in touch".

A final thought for our conversation with Zora and Jacqui is how important inclusivity is for the LGBTQ+ community in Gloucestershire. Hearing the voices of the community is something we will continue to do at Gloucestershire Live, and as Zora and Jacqui explain there is actually a need to go further.

For the individual stories Voices Gloucester in particular want to hear and document, Jacqui says that "We are working with Gloucestershire Archives to make sure these stories are collected and preserved. Right now, researchers are looking for LGBTQ+ stories from a hundred years ago so they are only finding the individual stories that were criminalised, but we know that there are plenty of positive stories, so we're trying to re-address the balance", Jacqui adds.


Zora agrees and says that by documenting these stories, "it will help paint a picture for people who may not be part of the community to look at and see LGBTQ+ as something normalised rather than seeing it with fear or potentially pity. Part of the work we did with the Voices Gloucester concert asked choir members to anonymously write down their shared experiences and the feedback was really positive".




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