Gay Chorus Embarks On Musical Mission Through The Bible Belt In New Documentary

Filmmaker David Charles Rodrigues struck a chord last year with “Gay Chorus Deep South,” conveying how music can forge unity between ideologically divided audiences.

Produced by Bud Johnston and Jesse Moss for MTV, “Gay Chorus Deep South” follows the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on its 2017 Lavender Pen Tour through Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. After a lengthy festival run, the award-winning documentary is making its broadcast television premiere this Sunday on Pop, Logo and Pluto TV. 

The tour was planned as the chorus’ effort to “change hearts and minds” in five traditionally conservative states, each of which has a troubling track record on LGBTQ rights.

For several of the group’s members, it became a personal mission, too. That was the case for Jimmy White, who, in the clip below, explains his wish that a concert in his Mississippi hometown will culminate in a reunion with his estranged father.

Sadly, White died of liver cancer earlier this year, but not before he and his dad found common ground following that 2017 performance. 

During its theatrical run last year, “Gay Chorus Deep South” received the Documentary Audience Award at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, among other accolades. And Rodrigues, who was born in Boston and raised in Brazil, is hopeful the inclusive message of the film will continue to resonate for a TV audience still reeling from a deeply polarized election. 

“While on tour and making the film, we learned that if you want your message to be heard, you have to listen first,” he told HuffPost. “Our film gives voice to both sides of the aisle and tests the waters of this divisiveness through the power of music and by making prejudice personal. People need to get from behind their protest signs and social media rants and find a path forward together. Our people, country and democracy deserve better.”  

“Of course the LGBTQ cause is the vehicle here,” Rodrigues continued, “but if you were ever bullied, oppressed or felt taken advantage of by someone who deemed themselves superior or better than you, then you’ll identify with the message of the film. If all minorities unite for a just world, they won’t be the minority anymore.”  

“Gay Chorus Deep South” debuts on Pop, Logo and Pluto TV Sunday, Dec. 20.