It’s a yellow wood-frame country church in Marietta with a gravel driveway flanked by an old cemetery. While it’s believed that a church of some kind has existed on the site since Civil War times, the present building dates from the turn of the last century. And it used to belong to the Methodists.
Not exactly the location you might expect for a gay men’s chorus concert. But last evening, 46 members of AGMC gave a preview performance of “Shaken, Not Heard” in this charming space, now home to the Emerson Unitarian Universalist Congregation. We weren’t quite sure what to expect from this very small church in the woods, except a group of open-minded individuals who no longer follow the teachings of traditional Protestants. How would a congregation of predominantly straight people respond to an emotionally charged piece about gay men and religion?
Well, “Shaken, Not Heard,” as we hoped, was exactly the story of struggle, triumph, and self-love that we had hoped it would be. The evening was replete with cheers, laughter, celebration and gospel clapping (after all, there has to be one tune for that in a show like this). It was also met with three standing ovations from the 75 people in attendance. What more could we ask? No, it wasn’t the Cathedral, the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, Symphony Hall, the Alliance Theatre or any of our usual fabulous venues – nor will it be this weekend when we give the formal premiere of this powerful event at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur. But Oakhurst, like Emerson, is unique, fabulous and beautiful in decidedly more important ways. These spaces represent amazing people – people who’ve had their own fill of being judged and marginalized. They, too, have triumphed in the search for authenticity, and our appearances in these houses are as much about celebrating them as they are ourselves.
By stripping away the lights, costumes, orchestra and pomp, AGMC gets very close to the earth this weekend, pouring its heart, soul and spirit into a piece that many are calling brilliant and inspired. After last night, I am convinced more than ever that these performances are not to be missed.
It’s for these reasons, my friends, that I do this for a living. And I am so blessed…well, I just can’t tell it all.