“GAY CHORUS DEEP SOUTH,” SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS DOCUMENTARY CHRONICLING GROUNDBREAKING LAVENDER PEN TOUR, TO MAKE WORLD PREMIERE AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
MONDAY, APRIL 29, 2019
SAN FRANCISCO (March 5, 2019) – The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC)—under the leadership of Dr. Timothy Seelig, Artistic Director and Christopher Verdugo, Executive Director—announced today that “Gay Chorus Deep South,” a documentary chronicling SFGMC’s life-changing Lavender Pen Tour through five southern states in the fall of 2017, will make its world premiere at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival on Monday, April 29, 2019. After the screening, there will be a special performance from members of The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.
In this groundbreaking documentary, Director and Writer David Charles Rodrigues, Writer Jeff Gilbert, Producers Bud Johnston and Jesse Moss, and Director of Photography Adam Hobbs followed the 300 members of SFGMC—along with special guests from the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir—as they embarked on an unprecedented bus tour through the Deep South, celebrating music, challenging intolerance, and confronting their own dark coming out stories to confront a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ laws.
The group made 23 appearances across Mississippi (Hattiesburg and Jackson), Alabama (Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham), Tennessee (Knoxville), South Carolina (Greenville) and North Carolina (Greensboro and Charlotte) from October 7–14, 2017. The Lavender Pen Tour helped to share SFGMC's mission of community, activism and compassion throughout the South, supporting its LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters and promoting acceptance and love through music. SFGMC also joined with local non-profits and LGBTQ+ groups to help raise much-needed funds in support of their vital work to dismantle biased and discriminatory laws.
"It has been my honor to conduct many concerts and tours over the years,” said Dr. Tim Seelig, SFGMC Artistic Director. “The Lavender Pen Tour was, without exception, the most important of all. It was literally life-changing. That would have been enough, but now that tour lives on through the new film, nothing could have made me or the Chorus prouder than to share these stories with new audiences everywhere."
Adds Christopher Verdugo, SFGMC Executive Director: “The Lavender Pen Tour allowed us to use our collective powerful, positive voices to empower LGBTQ+ residents in areas where they are not always able to be heard. The heart of the tour, showcased beautifully in the documentary, are the bridges that were built, the stereotypes that were crushed and the love that was shared amongst all people. It’s wonderful for SFGMC to be able to further spread that message of positivity and inclusivity by showcasing “Gay Chorus Deep South” at such a prestigious film festival. We look forward to sharing it across the nation at other upcoming festivals.”
The tour receives its name from the actions of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay candidate elected to major office in the U.S., who has often been referred to as the patron saint of SFGMC. In 1977, a year before his death, Harvey sponsored a landmark gay civil rights bill. Mayor George Moscone signed that bill into law with a lavender pen given to him by Harvey. The Lavender Pen remains a symbol of the fight for equality for all and the reason for the tour’s name.
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For more than 40 years, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has courageously served as the international standard bearer for a powerful and accomplished mix of performances, human rights and community activism, empowerment and inclusiveness, establishing it as an icon among LGBTQ organizations. Founded in 1978, it was the first organization of its kind and is credited with starting the LGBTQ choral movement, galvanizing and changing the course of LGBTQ history. It continues to rally and inspire other arts-based community organizations around the world.
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dr. Timothy Seelig, SFGMC has established a heightened level of performance standards bringing renewed audience and choral industry acclaim. Recent touring schedules, recordings, and outreach programs have broadened its impact and reputation in the community while maintaining its signature blend of humor, personality and ground-breaking performances. In 2019, SFGMC acquired a new facility that will act as both its permanent home for rehearsals and offices. The building will also serve as the first-ever National LGBTQ Center for the Arts and a community space for San Francisco LGBTQ artists.
For more information on SFGMC, visit www.sfgmc.org