Thursday, July 2, 2020

Review: Gay Chorus Deep South

Release date: May 15, 2020
Running time: 93 minutes
Starring: Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs

In response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states and the divisive 2016 election, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. Led by Conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir; the tour brings a message of music, love and acceptance, to communities and individuals confronting intolerance.  Over 300 singers travelled from Mississippi to Tennessee through the Carolinas and over the bridge in Selma. They performed in churches, community centers and concert halls in hopes of uniting us in a time of difference. 

This documentary goes into both the logistics of the trip itself, as well as the backgrounds of many of the performers in the choir.  For example, the journey challenges Conductor Tim and other Chorus members who fled the South to confront their own fears, pain and prejudices on a journey towards reconciliation. The conversations and connections that emerge offer a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that divide us; faith, politics, sexual identity are set aside by the soaring power of music, humanity and a little drag.  However, there is still plenty of divisiveness about this tour.  The Choir is barred from many places simply due to their sexual orientation, and are also confronted by protesters during their tour.  Although these viewpoints are highlighted, they understandably have a much smaller part of the overall documentary.  

The main draw of this film is the beautiful music that the Choir performs.  There are some really breathtaking scenes of them singing in churches both in San Francisco and in the South.  And, as mentioned above, these performances also have human aspects of the members of the Choir sprinkled in to give more backstory on the group.  The Choirs stories and performances show the human side of the organization and tells why they decide to sing.  The documentary highlights a beautiful message of tolerance and of setting an example for those who are against this message.  And, through their stories, it sends a message that love can conquer fear and hate.  

Gay Chorus Deep South tells a story of tolerance and of setting an example against fear and hate, through some very personal stories and beautiful music.

Watch it.

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