Human Rights Watch Festival 2020: Our Review Of ‘Gay Chorus Deep South’

Human Rights Watch Festival 2020: Our Review Of ‘Gay Chorus Deep South’

Despite living seemingly peaceful days, the members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Choir have lived long lives. Some of them even remember earlier incarnations of the group when some members came to rehearsals despite having AIDS. Decades later, the choir has another existential threat.

That threat is the 45th American President and what he represents. The choir has two choices in facing him. They can stay in San Francisco. But they made the more unconventional choice of going to the Southeastern United States. To some of them, this means coming back to the place that has exiled them with brutal force.

Gay Chorus Deep South takes time to depict these exiles. We see the choir’s members, most of them cis men, both in the present day and through archive photos. One of these exiles recounts his dedication to a church that exiled him when he came out. There’s a feeling here that it’s looking for a reconciliation for most of these members.

I also feel an exasperation when even documentaries depicting the LGBT present must return to past eras. Nonetheless, we do get bittersweet reunions and olive branches, and those moments cover the emotional beats this movie needs.

Another thing that works well here are the conversations between the choir’s members and the Southern preachers. Conservatives have this impression that the LGBT community is asking them for too much, even gas lighting us by saying that they’re not oppressing. And we are asking them for more than tolerance.

Tolerance is an angering inducing concept, only concerning itself with appearance. Its true colors show themselves within private in groups where intolerance is rampant. Acceptance is a much better idea. A holistic ideological change where people finally see each other as equals, loving each other the way Jesus once preached.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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