For co-director Kate Parnell, Vancouver’s all-femme queer choir grew out of a perceived absence of community.
“We both were feeling a lack of femme spaces in Vancouver,” she says, so she and Lau Mehes created the space they wanted to see.
The Femme City Choir, which includes femmes of all gender identities and expressions, is now at capacity and its last performance sold out in 18 hours.
“For me, sometimes I feel like I am not seen in my femmeness and in my queerness, unless it’s in relation to another person,” Mehes says. “Regardless of whether that person is feminine or masculine or whatever, my femmeness is only visible in relation to another person.”
Combining their shared passion for music with their desire for community, Parnell and Mehes offer choir members the chance to celebrate an often passed-over identity together.
“There’s so much natural support in a choir because you’re all doing something together and that builds a lot of support into the community,” Mehes says.
“That’s been so inspiring to participate in and observe, as a director, the way the community has come together to support each other. There’s a lot of folks who have talked about how it’s been an entry point into a feeling of community, and that’s amazing.”
With a repertoire of mainly pop music, the choir goes to great lengths to find songs that are neither hyper-gendered nor enforce the gender binary — a reflection, they say, of their commitment to creating a space that is not only inclusive but also celebratory.
For their upcoming performances in June, entitled Femme-stravaganza, Parnell promises two evenings of “total femme fabulousness.”
The performances will take place June 5 and 6 at 8pm at The York Theatre (639 Commercial Dr) and feature, in addition to the choir, an all-femme band and guest performances by Kimmortal, Beardoncé and Sidestep. Tickets $25 here.
“This is a way to be an ally,” Parnell says, “to come out and support the femme community.”