Silence is the ultimate barometer. Some say that it is golden, yet we have also been told that silence = death. In the absence of sound, the loudest voices will inevitably fill the void. For far too long, those voices have shouted down our queer families and allowed us to succumb to the cacophony of hatred.
But now, 300+ brave performers are rising up and overpowering the din of ignorance. The new documentary Gay Chorus Deep South charts the concerted efforts of San Francisco’s legendary men’s choir and Oakland’s interfaith gospel singers as they tour the nation’s reddest of red states, painting them pink along the way.
Under the fearless leadership of conductor Tim Seelig, the group traverses the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The march is a declaration that we are in the midst of an LGBTQ+ civil right movement, and it will not stop until the rafters are sufficiently shaken and quakin’.
Suffice it to say, the crooners are met with plenty of resistance. Bigotry flows freely through the venues where the gay chorus flexes their fabulosity, but humanity flourishes even brighter than those who work to diminish it. We meet a cancer survivor and his estranged father who disowned his child years before. Other members of the choir express their lingering rage from past discrimination while vowing to use that anger to quell future pain for the next generation.
Perhaps the most resounding message of Gay Chorus Deep South is that tolerance is another word for apathy. Even though same-sex marriage is now legal on a federal level, over 30 states continue to coddle employers who would fire us and landlords who would evict us simply due to our orientation.
As Dr. Seelig argues in a pivotal scene in the film, “The harder step is to celebrate.”
Indeed, music is the tapestry that weaves us together. The movie captures those magic, transcendent moments when churchgoers and drag queens abandon their differences and harmonize on a brand new wavelength.
After a devastating era in which walls were valued over hearts, perhaps our barriers will finally begin to crumble, courtesy of the sonic, loving boom that is Gay Chorus Deep South.
Last modified: December 31, 2020