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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Southern Pride is a documentary that details the efforts of people in two Southern Mississippi towns to highlight their LGBTQ communities. Galvanized by a pair of lesbian bar owners, each separately seeking to encourage respect and inclusion for folks in a part of the U.S. that has been one of the strongholds of anti-gay sentiment, the LGBTQ folks decide to hold festivals during Pride Month in 2017. Directed by Malcolm Ingram, a Canadian filmmaker best known for his 2006 award-winning film Small Town Gay Bar, the movie introduces the driving forces behind the efforts and their teams: African American and white; gay, transgender, and straight. Then Ingram follows them as they work toward their specific goals. Participants smoke cigarettes, consume alcohol in social settings -- much of the action takes place in bars -- and swear (i.e., "f--k," "s--t," "pissed," "damn"). Some violence is depicted in photographs and video footage of past riots and the harrowing effects of Hurricane Katrina, and in a segment that touches upon the brutal murders of three transgender women.
What's the story?
In SOUTHERN PRIDE, we meet Lynn Koval, who owns Biloxi, Mississippi's Just Us Lounge, the Gulf Coast's most prominent gay bar and community gathering place. In Hattiesburg, about 75 miles north, Shawn Perryon is the proprietor of Club Xclusive, a bar mostly populated by the city's black gay population. It's 2016, just after the presidential election. Emboldened by that election, there's been a rise in discriminatory behavior victimizing members of the LGBTQ population. Three transgender women have been brutally murdered in the Deep South. Lynn and Shawn have never met, but with such events escalating, each has decided that it's time for her town to create a Gay Pride celebration. Each has the same goal: an event in 2017 during Gay Pride Month. The film's director takes a close look at Koval and her team of supporters as they fundraise, plan the event, and face constant obstacles before they launch "Gulf Coast LGBT + Pride Day" on a stormy June 24, 2017. Hattiesburg's Perryon plans to produce her city's own "Unapologetic Black Gay Pride Day" to be held only weeks afterward. To complement the interviews and production video, Ingram uses photographs, archival footage, and news stories to augment the women's efforts.
Is it any good?
This sincere look at proud LGBTQ folks in the Deep South is engaging and on point, but there's a randomness to the structure that makes it less skillful and compelling than it might have been. With a nod to the escalation of negative behavior toward multiple minorities in the wake of the 2016 election, Malcolm Ingram and company deliver a clear-eyed response to the sometimes-regressive political climate in Southern Mississippi. Ingram does a great job of finding the heart of the people and the towns he's opted to portray; it's the integration of historical footage and tangential events (which are significant and rightly should have a place in Southern Pride) that's less than graceful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the intentions of documentary filmmaking: to entertain, inform, persuade, and inspire. Which category (or categories) best describes Southern Pride? Why?
Documentaries are now able to reach more audiences than ever before. To what do you attribute this fact? In what ways do such films open our eyes to different ideas and cultures? Which documentaries have you watched that changed your opinion or attitude about a specific topic?
Gay Pride parades and festivals are held in an increasing number of U.S. cities and towns. LGBTQ communities time those celebrations to commemorate the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riot (or Stonewall Uprising) in New York City. Find out more about this significant event and how it led to such measurable change.
- On DVD or streaming: June 14, 2019
- Cast: Lynn Koval, Shawn Perryon
- Director: Malcolm Ingram
- Studio: Uncork'd Entertainment
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Activism, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: October 2, 2019
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