Sometimes music can be a powerful weapon. After the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, D.C., performed at the Knox Pride Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, an anti-LGBT group gathered with anti-gay signs and began chanting. In response, the Gay Men's Chorus sang to drown out protestors.
The group was on their bus about to travel back to their hotel Saturday when they noticed some protestors were continuing to shout. So they deboarded the bus and confronted the protestors. A video of the group shows the chorus singing "We Shall Overcome" while standing in a circle around a handful of protestors.
The performance at the Knox Pride Festival was a part of the Gay Men's Chorus' Southern Equality Tour, wherein the group traveled to six states with anti-LGBT laws to spread the message of love and acceptance. They stopped in Chapel Hill, NC, Columbia, SC, Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, AL, Knoxville, TN, and Roanoke, VA. The group also sang "Make Them Hear You" from the musical Ragtime, and the national anthem.
Gay Men's Chorus Artistic Director Thea Kano spoke to the Washingtonian about the incident, saying:
This particular protester started walking across the street and shouting at us, so I blew the pitch pipe and told [the men] what we were going to sing and ushered them into a big circle, and we sang maybe four songs. He was walking along and shouting in our faces and we kept singing.
Plenty of anti-LGBT legislation has passed recently in Southern states. March in particular was an especially prolific month for anti-LGBT legislation throughout the South. The Texas Senate passed a bathroom bill that would require people to use the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, which was similar to North Carolina's bathroom bill from 2016, which has been partially repealed.
Around the same time, the Tennessee Senate passed a bill that bars the government from taking action against businesses that discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Toward the end of the month, Kentucky Gov. Matt Belvin signed legislation that would allow public school and university student groups to discriminate against LGBTQ students.
There will likely always be opposing voices when it comes to LGBTQ rights, but the Gay Men's Chorus tried to set an example for how to respond. Members of the chorus said they were coming from a place of love rather than shouting hate.