Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jackson: Jeers, Tears, and Many Cheers

Mobile, Alabama

Jesus told us to feed the hungry.

Last night's TCGMC audience in Jackson, Mississippi, was famished. Although our boys looked a touch tired on stage, they acted and sounded anything but as they served a stirring and satiating soulfood.

The audience appeared younger than those in Nashville (Sun.) and Birmingham (Mon.). Individuals later attributed their somewhat reticent responses to not knowing how to act.

"We've never seen or heard anything like this before!"

Invited to stand in place and have their relationships recognized, it took until the last 15 seconds of "Marry Us" before a few dozen couples dared to do so.

This audience, including an 80-something-year-old man, also probably did the most silent weeping throughout the evening.

The first two protesters of the tour, one with a bullhorn, appeared outside the Thalia Mara Hall in downtown Jackson and maintained a vigil all evening. Police restricted them to the sidewalk and away from the city-owned hall. A security guard was posted at the back door, and doors were locked during the concert. After the show, several performers went out to confront the two with song: "We shall overcome!"

We sold as many TCGMC CDs in Jackson as were sold in Nashville and Birmingham combined.

Following the show, Thalia Mara's eight unionized stage crew members donated their labor for the day -- worth $1,200.

Also after the show, a recently-widowed woman offered to write a check to launch a new, Jackson Gay Men's Chorus, and pledged to support it for five years. I am told that she actually wrote the check. She reportedly told a Chorus member, "Every straight person in Jackson should have been here tonight!"

If you have checked TCGMC's web site, you may have noted the story about bass singer Richard Long. When serving in the Air Force in Biloxi in 1965, he was not allowed to join his Caucasian colleagues on the Gulf beaches. Richard has been across the aisle of our Magnolia Express for three days, and tomorrow we are stopping at the Biloxi beach where he will walk and dip a toe in the water.

Last night, a former Biloxi resident sought him out and offered her personal apology for 1965.

During the Civil War, the Union General, William Sherman, burned Jackson three times.

The ornate and monumental state capitol building in downtown stands as a solid testament to the principle of self-government.

Dake Dorris, a Magnolia passenger, served as "City Ambassador" for Jackson activities. As a native of Mississippi, it has been interesting to have his insights about the state and descriptions of the unfamiliar flora.

If this tour was a fashion photo shoot, then Jackson was the "money shot." It would have made the whole trip worthwhile.

TCGMC is a great group of people, doing their best to look after each other. One has spent two free afternoons laundering tuxedo shirts. Another has devoted two days of bus riding to patching and stitching rips and tears.

We lunched in Hattiesburg today. The caravan's arrival in Mobile a short time ago was filmed by a television crew for the evening news, with singing filling the hotel lobby.

The local partner, Bay Area Inclusion has put out the word, which also has spread from earlier stops. Let's see what tonight brings.

If you know people in New Orleans, let them know "curtain time" is 7:30 Friday night, at St. Andrew Episcopal Church, 1301 S. Carrollton Avenue. Admission is free, with a nominal donation of $15 requested. If $15 is a problem, have them ask for me at the door and I will pay their way.