The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC is touring the South as part of their Southern Equality Tour, and this past weekend they performed at the Knox Pride festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. Thea Kano, artistic director of the chorus, says about eight people were protesting with signs outside the Pride stage when they arrived. After the chorus’ performance, the singers got onto the bus to head back to the hotel. As the bus was moving away Kano noticed the protesters were still out and yelling at passersby, so she asked the bus driver to stop. The entire group piled out, and this is what happened next:
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“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,” says Kano. “He was walking along and shouting in our faces and we kept singing.”
The GMCW drowned out the hateful comments with “We Shall Overcome,” “Make Them Hear You” from the musical Ragtime, and the national anthem, which Kano says “I don’t think he liked too much.” This is not the first time the group has overwhelmed anti-gay protesters with song. They’ve also harmonized over vitriol at last week’s Equality March by the White House, and over bullhorn-wielding protesters on the steps of the Supreme Court building when the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down.
“As we were singing the national anthem, this woman who wasn’t with our group broke into the circle with a big rainbow flag,” Kano says. “It was love drowning out hate, and we did it peacefully and with harmony.”
This story has been updated.