JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Gay Chorus Deep South (Director: David Charles Rodrigues) - November 4, 2019

Gay Chorus Deep South

4 4
100 min.

Reviewed for the 2020 edition of the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Singing for our lives

If there was ever any remaining doubt, the power of music over mere words has been most successfully reiterated in David Charles Rodrigues’ documentary portrait of the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus whirlwind tour of the Deep South.

After the 2016 election results, it seemed to many that the LGBTQ+ community might come under attack like never before. What to do? Bring a couple hundred queers (with heavenly voices) into the allegedly hell-and-brimstone Southern states.

Led by artistic director Tim Seelig (a failed Southern Baptist who had the gall to speak his own queer truth—even with a wife and two children), the Lavender Pen Tour boldly moved into the “enemy’s” camp, largely capturing hearts and minds, one chorus at a time.

Paying their own way, the disparate collection of singers brought take-it-forward therapy to a new level.

The filmed pushback (a few protesters with some tired religious signs and a “God is the Supreme Court Poster”), left a Pollyannaish feeling that pretty much all was well, now.

Leave that aside: the musical performances (brief as they are: more, please) can’t help but bring tears to any human being who has felt an iota of discrimination from all manner of issues: race, sexuality, gender, beliefs.

While focussing on the South, it is unrealistic to think that narrow-minded people only live there.

The entire planet is rife with those who “lovingly” look down on what they presume to be their “lessors”. Most of those could never comprehend the beauty and meaning of, say, a Bach chorale if it bit them on the ear.

More fine art; less uniformed chatter. JWR

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