Right-wing media and some conservatives didn't get the parody and targeted the singers and sent death threats.
A satirical song performed by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has sparked controversy with many conservatives and right-wing media taking offense at the video. The chorus parodied age-old anti-gay narrative but the right-wing media has used it to target the chorus, forcing SFGMC to delete the video and apologize. The video titled "A Message From the Gay Community" was posted on YouTube during the July 4 holiday weekend. The video features many members singing the parody song. It starts out, "You think we're sinful, you fight against our rights, you say we all lead lives you can't respect," before singing, "We'll convert your children... We'll make them tolerant and fair."
An Important Message to the Chorus Family. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/XBpSY6r4j7— SF Gay Men's Chorus (@SFGMC) July 8, 2021
The conservative media latched on to it and whipped a frenzy among its supporters, doxxing solo singers from the choir and viciously targeting them, both online and at their workplaces. The vocalists faced death threats for making a parody, according to the director of the chorus, Chris Verdugo, reported Yahoo News. Many conservatives who responded with vitriol could certainly do with being more tolerant and fair, as the song suggested but the group was forced to take down the video because it put the lives of the people in danger. "It was a difficult decision, because we are an organization whose mission really is both artistic but also activist," said Verdugo. "We are the first gay men’s chorus on the planet… We are a social justice organization… so it's very difficult for us to decide to take down that video. But the soloists — who are not in the chorus but, in their own right, rising Broadway stars, have received death threats."
Verdugo said critics of the video, took screenshots of the chorus, numbered the individuals, and created spreadsheets, harassing them. "All over a satirical piece of music," said Verdugo. They added that the vocalists have informed the authorities of the death threats and have been working with both the local police and the FBI. The song was actually commissioned several years ago by the Oakland Symphony, a heterosexual organization, says Verdugo. The artistic director loved the song and decided to add it to SFGMC's program. The chorus had also performed it multiple times prior to the pandemic and it always well-received. The video was released online recently to engage its followers in the absence of live performances.
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus was founded in 1978 and was the first chorus with openly gay men as participants. The group's message has always been one of peace, tolerance, and fairness. They delivered one of the most moving performances when they sang impromptu at the candlelight vigil held after the assassination of the first openly gay city San Francisco supervisor, Harvey Milk.
Some of the lines from the song included "We’ll convert your children, We’ll make them tolerant and fair… Learn to love,/Learn to love,/Face your fate./We’ll convert your children, someone’s gotta teach them not to hate." If the reaction from the song is any indication, a whole lot of people really need to be taught not to hate. The lines parody the anti-gay myth that gay men are child molesters and looked to convert young children into gay, a narrative started by anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant, more than 40 years ago. It's also not the first time the anti-gay narrative has been parodied, with Harvey Milk's rallying cry being: "I am here to recruit you!"
"It's a trope that just keeps getting peddled around, and this country is more divided than it ever has been," said Verdugo, before adding that any rational person would realize, 'Oh this is a satirical song that’s being turned on its ear.'