Make the yuletide gay: The Nevada Gay Men’s Chorus is a multi-demographic fan favorite

When Steven Meyer left the soon-to-be-defunct Nevada Opera in 2011, he found himself without a creative outlet. 

Meyer had been singing with the Nevada Opera since age 16 and had even stepped in for a while to help run it. After the opera’s demise, Meyer’s friend, Ted Owens, called him with a proposition.

“Ted was the artistic director with the Nevada Gay Men’s Chorus. He called me up and said, ‘I really need more singers—would you please come and sing?’” Meyer said. “I went to one rehearsal, and I was like, ‘OK, this could be fun.’ Here I am, 11 years later.”

Founded in 2009, the NGMC began as a chorus of 16 men who performed at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Reno. Though it had a small-but-loyal following, it wasn’t until Owens, a music professor at Truckee Meadows Community College, took over in 2010 that NGMC started to take off. Meyer, who greatly respected Owens, went on to become president of the organization and, eventually, its executive director. Though Owens recently stepped down, Meyers credits him for making NGMC the success it is today. 

In the last 11 years, the chorus has grown its numbers and fan base. Though it has had as many as 45 people perform at once, Meyer says it averages around 25 singers and regularly packs houses. Last year’s holiday concert at Nightingale Concert Hall at the University of Nevada, Reno filled 540 seats.

You don’t have to be a gay man to sing in the chorus. “As I said in a radio interview, you can be a banana, and you can join our group if you can sing in the male voice register,” Meyer said. “As long as you’re an ally, you can join us, and we’re always recruiting.”

NGMC presents its own major programs twice a year, around Memorial Day weekend and during the holiday season, and it makes additional appearances at local events (e.g., parties, the Sparks Hometowne Christmas Parade, Reno Aces games and even a women’s roller derby) and accompanies other performing groups, such as the Reno Chamber Orchestra and Reno Wind Symphony.

Until fairly recently, the group performed in traditional style, with holiday shows mostly comprised of classic and sacred favorites sung in your standard choral line. But audiences increasingly began asking for updated musical selections and a bit more pizzazz.

“Our audience really wanted more entertainment value, not just a stand-and-sing chorus, especially after COVID, when people could watch a choir online,” he said, adding that over 800 people watched NGMC’s livestreamed concert in 2020. “They wanted to see dancing, and they wanted action, and they wanted to laugh.”

Under Meyer’s direction, NGMC retooled, adding songs with broader appeal, guest artists, dance numbers and more flexible venues. NGMC’s upcoming holiday show, “A Holly Jolly Holiday Spectacular,” will take place Dec. 8 and 9 at the new Proctor Hug High School’s state-of-the-art, 400-seat theater. It will feature both secular and nonsecular tunes, with a few specifically for the LGBTQ+ community, under guest music director Dominique Christian Dale Gonzales. The Conservatory Dance Theater will perform dance numbers with the chorus, and assistant music director Aaron Long will provide piano accompaniment. Even the ushers will be special guests—local titleholders from the Miss USA pageant. 

All NGMC’s shows, Meyers emphasized, are family friendly. “We’re definitely trying to give the audiences what they want,” he said. “Our biggest thing is to try and knit the community together and be one of the LGBTQ faces for the public and build bridges.”

Considering the recent outcry concerning the transgender and LGBTQ+ performers slated for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it’s worth noting that even when NGMC performed exclusively at a church, it has always received a warm reception.

“I don’t know of any resistance,” Meyer said, adding that the chorus has performed at several area churches of varying denominations. “They’ve all been very open and accepting. … It’s just wonderful how people accept us with open arms.”

“A Holly Jolly Holiday Spectacular” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9 at Proctor Hug High School. Tickets are $25, $20 for seniors, $10 for students.

To follow NGMC and learn about upcoming performances, visit