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Happy Easter/Happy Passover: Antidote to BYU Video
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 04/08/12
Last updated on: 04/09/12
 
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Still from a video of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus performing "Testimony."

The stories of Easter and Passover are stories of triumphing over adversity, of overcoming hatred and contempt. As such, they speak in powerful ways to glbtq people, whether they are religious or not. In observance of these holidays, we want to call attention to a powerful composition by Stephen Schwartz inspired by the "It Gets Better" project and performed by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, under the direction of Dr. Timothy Seelig. It might be seen as an antidote to the BYU It Gets Better video discussed here.

Like the BYU video, Schwartz's composition also features the voices of individuals in pain, but unlike it his work envisions triumph over pain as suffering individuals come to find solace in communion with others. It fully acknowledges the heartbreaking anguish many gay people feel in a homophobic society, but it also joyfully celebrates the rewards of self-acceptance and the happiness that can be found by living life honestly. If you just "hang in" and "hang on" and accept yourself, the song advises, you can experience "the joy of living with authenticity."

Unlike the BYU video, which attempts to highjack the "It Gets Better" project for suspect purposes, Schwartz's beautiful song honestly captures the spirit of Dan Savage's vision.

Schwartz, who has written such hit musicals as Godspell (1971), Pippin (1972), and Wicked (2003), collaborated with Savage as he set to music the heartfelt testimony of contributors to the "It Gets Better" project. The result is an extraordinarily moving work that is beautifully performed by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.

Videographer Sean Chapin has assembled a brief documentary about the making of the "Testimony" video. He presents the testimonies of members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus about their own journeys and about the experience of performing "Testimony" and how the song speaks to them.

The stories of triumph over adversity in "Testimony" and in the testimonies of the contributors to the "It Gets Better" project and of the members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus remind us that it does get better when one escapes oppression. The message is especially appropriate for Easter and Passover.

 
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