Boston Gay Men’s Chorus Showcases Music’s Power to Surmount Homophobia in New Documentary

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus Showcases Music’s Power to Surmount Homophobia in New Documentary

‘Music Triumphs Homophobia’ available now on Amazon Prime Video

BOSTON, Jan. 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Boston Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC) is proud to announce the release of a new documentary film, “Music Triumphs Homophobia.” The film chronicles the impact of BGMC’s mission-driven music on audiences and BGMC members alike as they perform for audiences in New England and around the world. Written and directed by filmmakers Michael Willer and Craig Coogan, BGMC’s former executive director, “Music Triumphs Homophobia” is available on Amazon Prime Video.

As states across the U.S. move to ban LGBTQ-themed books, classroom discussions of LGBTQ issues, and access to affirming health care for transgender youth, “Music Triumphs Homophobia” is a timely demonstration of music’s power as both a healing balm and an effective tool in the fight against persistent anti-LGBTQ hatred and violence.

“With right-wing religious and political forces working to roll back LGBTQ rights here and abroad, ‘Music Triumphs Homophobia,’ is a much-needed reminder that the LGBTQ community is powerful, resilient, and has allies willing to stand and fight for dignity and equality,” said BGMC Executive Director Sarah Shoffner. “As Matthews Motsoeneng of South Africa’s Mzansi Gay Choir says in the film, ‘Homophobia makes you or breaks you. Don’t choose the breaking part, choose the making part.’ We hope this film inspires others to continue the work of making a more accepting world.”

Using archival material, contemporary tour and news footage, interviews with past and present chorus members and BGMC staff, as well as commentary from activists, audience members, arts advocates and political leaders, “Music Triumphs Homophobia,” documents how a small, Boston-based chorus became global cultural ambassadors educating people about LGBTQ lives and encouraging acceptance and respect for the LGBTQ community. The film is scored with original compositions by Chad Weirick, BGMC’s Principal Accompanist and Assistant Music Director, and features choral cover performances of songs by Katy Perry, Janet Jackson, Andrea Day, Richard Rogers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Stephen Schwartz, and Benji Pasek.

“I can’t wait for audiences to see this film,” said Craig Coogan, producer of “Music Triumphs Homophobia.” “Legislation and law enforcement are critically important in responding to anti-LGBTQ hatred and discrimination, but neither the law nor the law enforcer is capable of changing hearts and minds. But music is. We experienced it in South Africa. We experienced it in Israel and Turkey. We experienced it in Germany and Poland. Music builds bridges across groups of people that otherwise have nothing in common. It breaks down stereotypes and gives humanity to people who are routinely dehumanized.”

Since 1982, BGMC has created musical experiences to inspire change, build community and celebrate difference. It’s a mission that has brought BGMC to some unlikely venues, including a Congregational Church in rural Vermont, Worcester’s College of Holy Cross, Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, conservative Catholic-dominated Poland; a kibbutz by the Dead Sea, a university parking lot in Istanbul, and the shores of South Africa. As chorus member Alex Kapitan says in the film “BGMC goes to places where we know our voices will make an impact.”

“Music Triumphs Homophobia” depicts the protests and public criticism from anti-LGBTQ religious groups or political officials that follow the chorus just about wherever they go. In Turkey, anti-LGBTQ President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saw to it that the host venue for BGMC’s performance—the first by an LGBTQ chorus in the country—lost its permit for the event unless BGMC agreed to drop the word “Gay” from its name. The performance—the country’s first by an LGBTQ chorus—was saved when students at a local university organized for the use of outdoor space on campus for the concert, even though credible threats of violence had been made against BGMC. It took place with extra security measures in place and under the watchful eyes of Charles F. Hunter, the then U.S. Consul General in Turkey, who not only attended the concert with his husband, but joined BGMC on stage for its encore.

In South Africa, the city of George welcomed BGMC for a free community concert as part of its inaugural Pride celebration. The invitation by George’s city council was marred when George Mayor Melvin Naik took to the airwaves to lambaste BGMC and the city’s support for its LGBTQ residents. The mayor’s remarks received widespread coverage throughout the country. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa responded by inviting BGMC to join him for the country’s annual Youth Day march, where he personally greeted each member of the chorus and publicly welcomed them to South Africa. 

Watch a trailer for “Music Triumphs Homophobia” here:

About the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus

The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus is one of New England’s largest and most successful community-based choruses. Founded in 1982, the 200+-voice ensemble is celebrated for its outstanding musicianship, creative programming, groundbreaking community outreach and an innovative educational program. Under the dynamic leadership of Music Director Reuben M. Reynolds III, the BGMC sings a wide spectrum of classical and popular music and creates social change by providing a positive, affirming image of the LGBTQ+ community. The Chorus is heard live by thousands of people each season and millions more through recording, television and internet broadcasts. CBS-WBZ named the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus one of the “top 5” choruses in the city of Boston. The Boston Business Journal has named BGMC one of the top 10 performing arts organizations in the city each year since 2018. BGMC is a Cultural Ambassador — being the first LGBTQ+ chorus to perform in Poland in 2005, the Middle East in 2015 and in South Africa in June 2018.

Susan Ryan-Vollmar
[email protected]

SOURCE Boston Gay Men’s Chorus

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