How does a gay individual survive living in a town where you're forced to celebrate your pride behind four walls? In the 2006 documentary "Small Town Gay Bar", the lives of gays and lesbians are viewed from first-hand encounters between the LGBT community and the straight God-fearing Christians of Shannon and Meridian, Mississippi. The film focuses in on the local gay bars, its brave customers, and their fighting struggles of maintaining an openly gay business in the "Bible Belt".
The film, which was directed and written by Malcolm Ingram, goes into the laid back bars of Rumors in Shannon, Mississippi and Crossroads (now known as Different Seasons) in Meridian, Mississippi. The history and importance of these watering holes are discussed among its owners, veteran drag queens, bartenders, and regulars that have been visiting these "all or nothing" gatherings since the doors first opened. It also steps into the nearby town of Bay Minette, AL and shows just how far some simple-minded southerners can go when it comes to anyone who is or even suspected of being gay as in the case of 18 year old Scotty Weaver who was murdered due to his sexual orientation back in 2004.
What made me particularly interested in this film was the fact that my partner just so happens to be a native of Meridian. I recently got the chance to experience this town for myself and it's one of those old-fashioned towns that doesn't take kindly to gays but is somewhat accepting of the fact that we exist. I have to admit, it was comforting stumbling upon such a film that depicts life in the south as we already know it. Even though Pensacola is slightly bigger and more gay-friendly than Meridian, gays and lesbians still experience long stares and harsh words. I definitely believe that if this documentary was enlightening and honest for me, it can benefit other gays and lesbians all over the south as well.