Film Review: Gay Chorus Deep South – as part of the Glasgow Film Festival 2020

five

Within the first 30 seconds of Gay Chorus Deep South I had goose bumps, and they barely
left me for the next 1 hour and 40 minutes. This documentary follows the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, joined by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, on their concert tour to the states in the South of the USA with the harshest anti-LGBTQ rights of the nation.

The strength of the documentary is that it manages to capture the voices of incredible
personalities and connect it with the inequalities they face. Thus it intermingles personal
stories of both the singers and the Southern viewers and communities with an impression of the vastness and atmosphere of the whole choir, and brings it all together by reminding viewers of the legal inequalities of the American South. Clearly, the film covers a vast range of topics, but the intelligent transitions between each of these different elements makes it both personal and emotionally touching as we follow individual’s journeys, whilst maintaining an impression of the systemic problems. Perhaps the most illuminating thing to me was how law and Christian religious faith are tied together in the South, and used to bring about anti-LGBTQ laws and sentiments in this Trump-era.

At the heart of this documentary, however, is music. It showed how music as a universal
language could, in a way, transcend boundaries that are difficult to overcome by
highlighting our shared humanity. Moreover the choir was truly phenomenal, and their
music has become a new standard in my Spotify playlists. The voices of so many men
coming together in perfect harmony is simply incredible, and conveys how they gain
strength from their community and from the music itself. The song choices, of course, also played a big part in conveying a message of hope and community in a time of hardship. In particular the rendition of ‘Singing for Our Lives’ will stay with me.

This felt less than a documentary than a story that had to be told. It spoke of love,
compassion, and bravery in the face of pain, prejudice, and inequality. It told the stories of men who would not let themselves be defined by people who would not celebrate their difference, and instead found power in celebrating that difference together. It was one of the most powerful movies I have seen in a long time, and can only recommend it.

More information on the Glasgow Film Festival is available here:
https://glasgowfilm.org/glasgow-film-festival.

[Kirsty Campbell – she/her – @KirstyCampbell3]

Leave a Reply