A capella advocacy: raising student voices

Pitch, Please is an LGBTQIA advocacy group new to Main Campus this year.

Alexa Solan leads a rehearsal for Pitch, Please, Temple’s a capella advocacy group for LGBTQIA awareness on Thurs. Jan. 28. | ZACH FISCHER TTN

Carlos Johns-Davila never agreed with the exclusive viewpoints that were promoted during his Catholic school upbringing.

“I never felt that there was really any support for LGBTQIA groups,” said Johns-Davila, a junior music composition major. “Their voices were so undermined. I always thought that when I got to college or when I was able to, I would show my support as an advocate.”

To bring his goals of advocacy to Temple, Johns-Davila co-founded Pitch, Please with former member and senior Mitchell Rankin-Wise. Pitch, Please is Temple’s newest a cappella group and it strives to support the LGBTQIA community.

“Doing it through song is a very cheerful, light-hearted way to express something really deep,” Johns-Davila said.

The main goal of Pitch, Please is to promote acceptance and positivity through music. Everyone is welcome regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“It gives a new home to those who identify with the LGBTQIA community and want to sing in a safe space,” Johns-Davila said. “A lot of people come in very nervous and scared, and it’s heartwarming to see them take down their walls and start to feel welcomed.”

Sophomore music education major Jessica Gann said she decided to audition for Pitch, Please this past fall because of its LGBTQIA-positive reputation.

“I like singing, and I always wanted to be in an a cappella group,” she said. “LGBT advocacy is important to me. I’m gay, so it’s nice to be in a group where that’s normal.”

Though strides have been made on a national scale for the LGBTQIA community, like the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States, Pitch, Please sets out to shed light on the challenges that remain.

“There are still problems with negativity,” said Alexa Solar, a junior music education major and the music director of Pitch, Please. “We try to advocate acceptance and loving people for who they are, and we try to display that message through music.”

Pitch, Please shows its support by performing songs that are either related to LGBTQIA advocacy or originally performed by artists associated with the LGBTQIA community. One of the first songs they ever performed was “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry.

“It was the first arrangement I made for the group,” Solar said. “It’s kind of our staple song because it’s about being who you are, accepting yourself and accepting others.”

The group often performs at events hosted by Temple’s Wellness Resource Center, like AIDS Awareness Day and Lavender Graduation, an event that recognizes and celebrates graduating seniors of Temple’s LGBTQIA community. They also perform during Serenade at the Alumni Circle with other Temple a cappella groups on the first Thursday of every month at 10 p.m.

The members of Pitch, Please see music as an effective way to empower the LGBTQIA community and initiate positive change.

“The power of music is underestimated in my opinion,” Solar said. “It’s helped me personally through a lot of dark times, and I want other people to feel how I felt through music.”

Brooke Williams can be reached at brooke.shelby.williams@temple.edu.

Video by Caroline Vana.

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