In 2006, Malcolm Ingram’s documentary Small Town Gay Bar explored gay bars in rural Mississippi. Following the election of Donald Trump – which seems to have emboldened anti-LGBTQ hatred in the region – Ingram returns to document the travails of running a gay bar in Mississippi, with a profile of lesbian bar owners in Biloxi and Hattiesburg. The result is Ingram’s new documentary, Southern Pride.
I caught up with Malcolm Ingram for a behind-the-scenes look at the film.
When you reflect on Small Town Gay Bar and Southern Pride, what were some of the significant changes that stood out to you from the years that had passed between those two productions?
The open hatred that has enveloped America and the world, pretty much. Reverend Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptists were the extreme when I interviewed them for Small Town Gay Bar. It’s now normal.
In post-Trump America – the stories of community that you’ve documented in Southern Pride, are they exceptions rather than the norm?
I hope they aren’t the exceptions. That would be really depressing.
In many ways, Southern Pride highlights the power of individuals and the impact that an individual can have. Is that the American Dream in action?
I think that some people are heeding the call to make a stand. The absolute worst thing that came from the internet is armchair activism. People think that just be liking or sharing something that they are actually doing something. You’ve got to get your hands dirty to make a difference.
While things have got better for white gay men, when LGBTQ identities intersect with race, gender, disability, or socio-economic challenges, it seems to be a different experience completely. Do white gay men feel part of an LGBTQ community in the US, or are they able to insulate themselves from the issues of the wider community?
I feel so disconnected from the journey of the typical white gay man I feel weird answering this question . It does seem like apathy is pretty popular. And I guess it’s ok to like drag queens now. I remember that a lot of gay men were so threatened by drag. I was raised on Divine. That bitch mattered.
What do you hope that people feel when watching Southern Pride?
Honestly, I hope people get their head out of their asses regarding the American South. The insane prejudice that people feel towards places like Alabama and Mississippi are offensive. I’ve met so many intelligent, brave and aware individuals from the area. It’s a complicated part of the world that should be explored with respect – some incredible literature and music was born from its soil. Remember, Trump isn’t from Mississippi, he’s from New York.