San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band

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San Francisco
Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band
Also known as SFLGFB
Origin United States San Francisco, California, United States
Genres Concert Band, Marching Band
Years active 1978–present

The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band (SFLGFB) is a community-based concert and marching band in San Francisco. It is the official band of San Francisco. Founded in 1978, it was the first gay-oriented musical organization in the world. The band promotes visibility and musical education for the Bay Area's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) communities. Although a majority of its members are GLBTI, many are heterosexual and join to support the GLBTI community and to partake in a high-quality community concert and marching band. The SFLGFB presents musical programs that help to build understanding between GLBTI and other communities.


The SFLGFB was founded by Jon Reed Sims in 1978 as the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corp. Sims, born in Smith Center, Kansas, was a musician and performer who formed the band in response to Anita Bryant's anti-gay campaign in the late 1970s. Upon its founding in 1978, it became the first openly-gay musical group in the world. In successive years, Sims created the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, Lambda Pro Musica orchestra (now defunct), and encouraged the formation of the Big Apple Corps GLBT band in New York by Nancy Corporon and The Great American Yankee Freedom Band of Los Angeles by Wayne Love.[1][2]


"The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band provides for the education and musical development of its members, presents music-based programs for public benefit and for charitable purposes, promotes visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning, and queer (LGBTIQQ) communities and their allies, and builds understanding between and among LGBTIQQ and other communities. We believe that all talent is worthy of development and that visible artistic expression improves our communities' health."[3]


Artistic Directors:

  • Jon Sims, founder (1978–1982)
  • Tom Smith (1982)
  • Lesesne Van Antwerp (1982–1985)
  • Jay Kast (1986–1988)
  • Jeff Foote (1988–1989)
  • Wayne Love (1988; 1989–1990)
  • Nancy Corporon (1990–1996)
  • Jadine Louie (1996–2006)
  • Dr. Roberto-Juan Gonzalez (2007–2008)
  • Jadine Louie (2009–2012)
  • Pete Nowlen (2013–Present)


A true community band in all senses, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band has members from all over the greater Bay Area, from as far away as Mountain View, Crockett and Sonoma. The band is proud of its diversity. Members come from many walks of life, religious beliefs, genders, cultures, physical abilities and sexual orientations.

New musicians may join without an audition. They are required only to read sheet music and have at least high school-level training on a band instrument. (See list, below.) The band typically performs Level 4 ("medium advanced")[4] concert music.


The concert band uses a typical configuration:


The SFLGFB schedules four concerts annually, usually in early March, June, September and December. In addition, it appears in many parades and community events throughout the year. Since its inception, the band has performed at many events, both GLBTI and non-GLBTI. Included in this roster are the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade, Senior's Connection on New Years Day, GLBTI pride parades all over California and the United States, San Francisco St. Patrick's Day Parade, Redwood City 4th of July Parade, Clarendon Elementary School's Gay Awareness Day, SF AIDS Walk, and many more.

Dance-Along Nutcracker[edit]

The SFLGFB's most renowned annual event is the Dance-Along Nutcracker, usually held the first or second weekend in December at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Organized around a different theme each year, the audience is encouraged to dance during movements of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite. In between, professional entertainers such as Carolyn Carvajal, Trauma Flintstone and Cheer San Francisco perform for the audience. Many audience members wear festive costumes they bring themselves or tutus they rent at the event. The Dance-Along Nutcracker is family-friendly and has been called "the plum of the holiday season." For many area residents, it has become an annual tradition. The production has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal and on NBC and HGTV.[5]

The Official Band of San Francisco[edit]

For its dedication to community service, SFLGFB was first formally declared "The Official Band of San Francisco" on its 20th anniversary on behalf of the city's Board of Supervisors by Supervisor Tom Ammiano at Yerba Buena Gardens. The Board of Supervisors repeated the honor in May 2003 at the Band's 25th anniversary concert, The Beat Goes On, at Everett Middle School Auditorium, the site of the Band's first formal concert in December 1978.[6]

Legal status[edit]

As a legal 501(c)3 non-profit, The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band is dedicated to providing music and entertainment for any non-profit organization that requests its services and does not conflict with its mission.[citation needed]

SFLGFB is a founding member of LGBA


The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band is a proud charter member of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association (LGBA), an international group with over 35 member bands and partner organizations. Since its inception in 1982, LGBA has facilitated the creation of numerous new local LGBT Bands, while also organizing many major "massed band" performances. These have included Gay Games, three Marches on Washington, two United States presidential inaugurations, and appearances in major venues including Hollywood Bowl, Madison Square Garden, the Alamo, DAR Constitution Hall, Jordan Hall (Boston), Jones Hall (Houston), Davies Symphony Hall (San Francisco), and the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park during the 2006 Gay Games VII held in Chicago. SFLGFB is also an organizational member of the Association of Concert Bands (ACB).

See also[edit]


External links[edit]