Small Town Gay Bar is a film by Malcolm Ingram about gay bars in the American South. Specifically, it is about Mississippi, but there’s nothing particularly unique about the location–the content of the documentary could be about anywhere in the South. The broad argument of the documentary is that small gay bars in small Southern towns are necessary places for the development of queer communities in these places, which is kind of a “no duh” thing when I write it down. However, most of the documentary is constructed from interviews with average bar goers, people who just want to go and have a good time and meet people and just not be surrounded by straight people all the time.
The documentary hits hard for me because it is a portrait of a community living under occupation. Discrimination is a problem for anyone who isn’t a straight white cis male in America, but the South is literally another country when it comes to those things. I experience Small Town Gay Bar like I do the writing of James Baldwin or Virginie Despentes or Frantz Fanon. Here is a document of what it is like to live in a world where a huge chunk of the population wants you, at best, to be punished for living. At worst, they call for your murder and social castigation.
I don’t have a comprehensive read on the film. I don’t have a criticism or a review, although I will say that the Tour of Gay Bars in Northeast Mississippi segment was certainly my favorite part of the film.
Small Town Gay Bar is available on Netflix Instant.