BRATTLEBORO -- The Boston Gay Men's Chorus will give a special concert on Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro. It is the first time the chorus will appear in Brattleboro and proceeds from the concert will help support the Retreat's LGBT program, which opened in 2009 and has had over 2,300 admissions.
The Boston Gay Men's Chorus has a mission to inspire change, build community and celebrate differences and the 175-member group typically puts on shows around the Boston area to both entertain and bring attention to issues in the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
And the group, from its start, has also committed itself to supporting LGBT causes and to working with schools, non-profit organizations and faith groups to support LGBT individuals.
The Retreat LGBT program offers care to those identifying as LGBT for acute depression and other mood disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, co-occurring disorders, anxiety, grief and loss issues, sexual and gender identity issues, trauma, self-harming and suicidal behaviors, and other mental health issues.
Brattleboro Retreat President and CEO Rob Simpson said the concert will not only help raise money for the program, but the event will also help raise awareness about the specific struggles of LGBT individuals who are combating mental illness, and about the work the Retreat is doing to help them.
The LGBT inpatient program at the Retreat is the only inpatient mental health and substance abuse program in the country that employs clinicians and doctors who are specially trained to address issues that are specific to LGBT patients.
Simpson said he hopes a concert like the one at the Latchis can help highlight what is going on in Brattleboro and encourage other mental health treatment centers to start similar programs.
"The Retreat's LGBT program is meeting a real need," Simpson said. "Identifying as LGBT does not make an individual more predisposed to mental illness or addiction, but stigma, social prejudice, and discrimination can accompany LGBT identification and create heightened risk to mental health and well-being."
Retreat Board of Trustees Chairwoman Bette Abrams saw the Boston Gay Men's Chorus a few years ago and has been working for almost two years to bring the group to Brattleboro.
Retreat Director of Professional Development and former LGBT Program clinical manager Eileen Glover said music plays an important role in the work that Retreat staff do with LGBT patients.
Glover said the LGBT program often treats people who are forced to keep their sexual identities secret, further complicating the mental illness or addiction challenges they are facing.
Once they enter the Retreat and can be honest about who they are, Glover said it becomes that much easier to address their mental health issues.
"We strive to create a space free from stress or anxiety around gender and sexual-orientation," Glover said. "From making sure we are using the pronoun a person prefers to having advanced medical understanding of people transitioning genders, we work very hard to be as sensitive and knowledgeable to their circumstances as possible. This allows people struggling to address their mental health or addiction challenges without these barriers they faced in the past."
In addition to raising funds for the LGBT program the Retreat will honor this year's Anna Marsh Award recipient at the event.
The Anna Marsh Award was established in 2009 to recognize advocacy on behalf of people with mental illness and addiction. Past winners include Gov. Peter Shumlin, the late Sen. Robert Gannett and actor Ken Howard.
Ticket prices for the Nov. 1 concert are $50 and $30, with special premium seats, which include a pre-show reception at the Brooks House, costing $125, and balcony seats at $20.
Tickets are available at www.brattlebororetreat.org/chorus or by phone at 1-800-838-3006.
For more information call the Retreat Office of Development at 258-4318.
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. Follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.