Arts and CultureNew York

The Queer Urban Orchestra Are Guardians of the Gay-laxy

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via Elias Scultori

via Elias Scultori

Brent Reno is one of my best friends. He and his then boyfriend (they’re all still friends!)  were some of my first New York friends. It was instant the connect Brent & I had, maybe it’s because we are both southerners surrounded by Yankees. But mostly I think it’s because he has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met. We met up in the last week to talk about his involvement with the Queer Urban Orchestra. This year more than ever the gala seems so important as an opportunity to support one another. And for Brent, the QUQ means more to him now than he ever imagined.

“What a difference a year can make. A year ago after losing a third job and yet another apartment I was hospitalized with massive blood clots in my leg. I really felt like I was at rock bottom of everything and to top it all off I hadn’t performed in months. That’s when my best friend and music collaborator, Seth Bedford basically saved my life.”

What Seth did was tell Brent that QUO were holding the Pride Gay-La. He also wanted Brent to sing some of his pieces and emcee the event. Brent thinks back, “I had worked sporadically with the QUO a few years back but never felt like I truly fit into the larger picture. Honestly, the thought of not only singing but leading the entire event for a group who I was unsure of how they felt towards me…..all while in tremendous pain, was a daunting task.”  He then shared with me something that a former vocal teacher once told him about the power of music and it’s ability to heal…to heal oneself…to heal others.

3 weeks later, a hobbling man stood up and helped to deliver one of the most successful programs in the organization’s history. A month later he was attending the board meeting and playing in the percussion section. “Here we are a year later. I’m now an official board member, I’m hosting our second annual Gay-La and I am proud to be serving my community using the talents I was given. Given the events this past week, it seems that this year there is a lot of healing that needs to take place. I hope we can offer just the tiniest bit of that.” 

The special guests at this year’s show will be the Melodia Women’s Choir and The Stonewall Chorale. The theme is absolutely out of this world too.

via Bruce Michael-Gelbert

via Bruce Michael-Gelbert

The program will include: “Uranus and Neptune” from Holst’s The Planets, Dvorak’s “The Water Goblin”, “Star Trek: Into Darkness” by Michael Giacchino, and “Star Wars Suites” by John Williams. The whole event will take place at the beautiful Church of the Holy Apostles (296 9th Ave, Manhattan – Chelsea).

Join them on Saturday, June 25th. VIP tickets are $50, with $20 (tax-deductible) going to the QUO as a donation. You’ll get admission to the pre-concert with champagne and a chamber music reception (7-8pm). There will also be a silent auction block and an open bar for you throughout the concert.


General admission is $30 and the doors open at 8pm.

You can even sponsor a Gay-La table, I will be there with plenty of Broke-Ass stickers.

The biggest take away from my and Brent’s very teary conversation a few days ago is comfort. Orlando is bringing not only the LGBTQ community closer together but our country as a whole. As a proud ally I hope you will join me in helping an amazing organization and stand with our queer brother and sisters in solidarity.



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Sheilah Villari - Dollar Bin Darling

Sheilah Villari - Dollar Bin Darling

Southern hospitality mixed with Northern sensibility. This native Charlestonian is one quirky hobby away from becoming a Wes Anderson character. Fluent in Jack Russell and Sportsball. She can be found perusing your local comic/coffee shops. She is the Managing Editor of BAS-NYC.