Composer Stephen Schwartz has quite the healthy resume, although any time a list of shows can include the likes of Godspell, Pippin and Wicked, you are pretty much given the royalty card on Broadway. However, he recently concluded another collaboration, one that is very important, and so very moving. He wrote the music for the San Fransisco Gay Men's Chorus, and worked with Dan Savage to compile the words from many of the It's Gets Better project videos, and made a truly heartfelt and moving piece that was given a world premiere by the talented men of the San Fransisco Gay Men's Chorus. It is called Testimony, capturing the feelings of disenchantment and despair, as well the feelings of joy and self-acceptance one feels when they come through the other side, when if finally does start to get better.
Not only is it wonderful to hear those words set to music, it is also great to see the tapestry of faces who sing them, a great cross-section of the community. The lyrics are:
I don’t want to be like this.
I don’t want to be who I am.
Every day that I don’t change I blame myself.
I am not trying hard enough.
I don’t want to be how I am.
When they find out, no one will love me,
I’ll lose my family and all of my friends.
I’m trapped like a fish with a hook in its mouth.
I am impersonating the person I show as me.
I am an imposter. I am a spy behind enemy lines.
I pack my feelings so deep inside me, they turn to concrete.
Every night I ask God to end my life.
I am an abomination.
God, take this away or take me away.
Today, I’m going to hang myself. I’m trapped.
Today, I’m going to slit my wrists. I’m stuck.
Today, I’m going to jump off my building.
Take me away. Take me away. Take me away.
Hang in. Hang on. Wait just a little longer.
I know it now, I know it now.
If I had made myself not exist,
there is so much I would have missed.
I would have missed so many travels and adventures,
more wonders than I knew could be.
So many friends with jokes and secrets not to mention,
the joy of living in authenticity.
Sometimes I cry, life can still be hard,
but there’s no part of me still crying “Hide me.”
I would have missed the chance to sing out like this
with people I love beside me.
I have been brave.
I grew, and so did those around me.
And now look what a life I’ve earned.
It gets more than better.
It gets amazing and astounding.
If I could reach my past, I’d tell him what I’ve learned.
I was more loved than I dared to know.
There were open arms I could not see.
And when I die and when it’s my time to go,
I want to come back as me.
I want to come back as me.
You can purchase the song from the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus online store by clicking here. You can purchase the single for download, offer a donation to the chorus, or order any number of other musical selections.