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Stephen Schwartz, Dan Savage and SF's Gay Men's Chorus Team Up For 'Testimony:' VIDEO


Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz and Dan Savage recently joined forces to turn segments of the Savage-created "It Gets Better" project into a sweeping emotional song encapsulating all the emotions that go with coming out and staying out in an at-times confrontational world.

"The song urges LGBT youth to hang on, telling them they're not alone, and showing them that life gets better," reads the video's YouTube description.

Performed by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the track, appropriately called "Testimony," can be found AFTER THE JUMP, but fair warning, it may not be safe for work if you don't want your colleagues to see you getting a bit misty.

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  1. Lots of men, gay and straight, shave their heads as a graceful way of dealing with hair loss.

    Posted by: Marguerite Gautier | Mar 22, 2012 4:31:44 PM

  2. @Steve My impression of the boy next door is....well.....the boys next door in the neighborhood I grew up in.....and the boys next door I went to high school with and the boys next door in my dormitory in college.

    @Christian I hate to have to tell you this, but what causes gay teenagers to despair and want to kill themselves is getting a glimpse of gay life and the prevailing gay culture and finding little or nothing in it to appeal to them. Instead, they see a lot of the "weirdness" I am referring to, which makes them uncomfortable and feel like social outcasts in the larger society....which they would not feel if they saw in gay life a lot of the same things (and men) that they see in the larger society.

    What a shock it must be to so many young men to discover their sexuality and come to terms with it....only to find out that so many gay men are, in fact, as "weird" as they have always been told they are--bearded, shaved-headed types, more often than not effeminate, rather than the kind of guys they have known all their lives.

    THAT is what is so devastating to so many.....

    Posted by: Rick | Mar 22, 2012 4:57:58 PM

  3. Monstrous piece of self-indulgent, sentimental, sanctimonious crap. No one ever heard the Bernstein Mass? That's the tune. It doesn't get better, it gets ripped off. Third rate music given a perf worthy of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Some good voices but everyone's so thrilled with themselves I can't bear to watch.

    This kind of mush does no one any good. Ugh.

    I was in San Francisco with a play and thought it a very provincial town but this is beyond provincial, this is a PTA meeting in Scarsdale.

    Posted by: jake | Mar 22, 2012 5:13:39 PM

  4. A truly amazing piece of music!

    Posted by: jaragon | Mar 22, 2012 5:49:07 PM

  5. I can only write as a straight ally that the work is truly beautiful, and as I also wrote on the youtube page, more importantly, beautifully sung. All of the elements of beaufiful singing, singing that touches the inside of the listener, are there and at a high niveau: intonation, legato, diction, agogic stress, ease of production (especially but not limited to Tenor I). Whoever coached the work did one helluva job. You can be proud of the results and the echo this work will leave in the ears and eyes of your listeners/viewers. It was a pleasure to hear you. Best to you in your future endeavors.

    Posted by: bonncaruso | Mar 22, 2012 6:08:45 PM

  6. This message is neither honest nor adequate. Once again, it's Dan Savage telling young LGBT folk that their lives will automatically get better, so they have to just "hang in there". For the most butch and femme among us, it doesn't "get better" . . . it often gets worse! We need strong advocacy, not self-serving patronization! Using music and video to pat oppressed people on the head is not the answer. Declaring war on heterosexual supremacy is! No small number of Dan Savage sycophants need to pick up Harry Belafonte's superb autobiography MY SONG, and learn what kind of hard work it really takes to make life better for future generations. Harry, MLK and their Civil Rights movement colleagues had too much courage and integrity to go around telling victims of race-based brutality that "it gets better."

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Mar 22, 2012 6:11:10 PM

  7. How sad that this comment thread especially has turned out to be so negative, angry, confrontational and jaded.

    It seems as tho whenever Rick adds a comment, the whole thread gets hijacked and taken to a place that has absolutely NOTHING to do with the post.

    Sad. Just sad. And it's getting more than a little boring.

    Posted by: jim | Mar 22, 2012 6:25:21 PM

  8. Stuffed Animal: So telling depressed and suicidal teenagers to not kill themselves is a dishonest message. I'll make a note of that.

    Posted by: Christian | Mar 22, 2012 6:35:08 PM

  9. Fascinating. On one hand we have someone telling us the video looks too gay; on the other, someone telling us the song is not gay enough.

    Rick and Jake, please cancel each other out. Thx.

    Posted by: Peter | Mar 22, 2012 8:45:18 PM

  10. It is amazing how any commentary by Rick takes over. Ignoring his posts is probably the solution.
    I do love both his and Jake's posts though. They have reactions that are honest and not completely foriegn to me. Yet I would not have said either.

    Posted by: Markt | Mar 23, 2012 12:32:24 AM

  11. They are ALL Boy Next Door "types"...as are the rest of us.

    Posted by: Kile Ozier | Mar 23, 2012 12:40:37 AM

  12. there are some people who hate Dan Savage more than they care about promoting messages of Hope for LGBT people.

    the only thing stopping StuffedAnimal, and others, from making THEIR OWN VIDEO where they give a specific message of HOW to make life better, is their own bitter anger toward dan savage.

    Judge Judy often admonishes divorced and fighting parents with "you should love your children more than you hate your ex-spouse" - same goes for the angry miserable complainers here.

    ok, you don't like Dan Savage. great, good for you. ok, you don't like the song. great, good for you.

    what are YOU doing, specifically, to give messages of empowerment to youth, and their allies?

    StuffedAnimal hates dan savage more than he cares about sharing a specific message of Hope, and "Rick" complains that there aren't enough "normal masculine gay men" for young people to see, yet he himself refuses to Come Out and represent....uh...whatever he thinks he is.

    both are about as useful as tits on a fish.

    and decidedly less sexually arousing.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Mar 23, 2012 1:39:29 AM

  13. Kiwi - Thanks for keeping it real. Still Jake and Animal have points and these comments allow them to make them without mitigation.
    The peice was created and performed by adults with adults in mind. A vehicle for us to get teary eyed over what we've been through b/c we're different. At 17 I would have killed myself if someone showed my what age and a lack of exercise would do to me in later years. I would not have identified with anyone in that video and that would have been a good thing. The videography has as much to do with that as the performers.
    One summer I was given 24 interns. The youngest had just graduated high school on his way to Dartmouth. He was very bright, very helpful and very gay. The work was in an important setting in NYC so although he was bullied it wasn't articulated in a way that was specifically gay. But that was the reason (i.e., a lambasting from my boss for stopping to tap dance for a second). Before he left he thanked me for the exceptional experience he had and told me that I turned something that could have been horrible into "a great experience." The last thing I would have done to reach him would have been to share that video. Also, 17 year olds don't listen to funereal music and that's a good thing, especially if suicide is a possibility.

    Posted by: Necromancer | Mar 23, 2012 10:01:54 AM

  14. Cringeworthy.

    Posted by: djork | Mar 23, 2012 11:29:15 AM

  15. Please stop feeding the trolls. Your reactions bring them back. People say "wrong" things on the internet all the time.

    Catch people doing something right. Like making this music and video.

    Posted by: A Person | Mar 23, 2012 11:46:58 AM

  16. Cringeworthy?

    I would have killed myself if some showed (me) what age and lack of exercise would do to me in later years?

    Really? You mean a beautiful, heart-felt performance makes you want to cringe? You think 17 year-olds are all perfectly formed and also irreparably vain and shallow? You also watched the video and judged how some of the performers looked (btw, when I watched, I saw a wide range of ages and physiques. I saw lots of beautiful men - heck, I thought they all were beautiful)? Really?

    I keep hearing a line: "Everybody has a heart. Except some people."

    Posted by: TJ | Mar 23, 2012 12:06:59 PM

  17. TJ - it's just the same old story. Those who do nothing love to anonymously complain about anything and everything that other people do.


    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Mar 23, 2012 12:22:10 PM

  18. As a vehicle to inspire adults to do more it has possibilities. But it is not an example of how to reach at-risk youth. The gap between the generations is wide and takes particular effort to bridge. If that is happening here - great. I'm well past my teenage years so I'm not an expert. Try showing it around to ages 12 - 19 and see how they respond.

    Posted by: Necromancer | Mar 23, 2012 2:11:31 PM

  19. Perhaps, for many, KIWI, what you say is true. But NECROMACER above postures that he has reached out and helped. Yet he completely dismisses the song and video because it showed too many fat old people. He characterizes the music as funereal. Did he listen to the lyrics?

    Maybe things have changed. Maybe all high school choirs are now "show" choirs covering Lady Gaga and Adele songs. But if they still sing choir -style, with all of the rich harmonies, perhaps some gay choir kid might just appreciate what this performance is about. Perhaps, even listen to the lyrics. Perhaps, that kid might spot all the "hotties" in that video, and even not be repulsed by all the old fatties. It could happen.

    And if you think it can't happen, what are the positive suggestions you might have, even if you can't produce an alternate video?

    Posted by: TJ | Mar 23, 2012 2:11:58 PM

  20. Out gays can't win.

    they're either "too femme", or they get criticized for having "shaved heads and beards"

    i suppose some gay men are resentful that we're not all as boring and charisma-deficient as they are.

    still, i'll fight for any gay man's right to be as boring as he wants to be.

    it's just very telling that those who complain loudest also don't ever show the examples they're living and giving in their own lives.

    i've never understood the mindset of "i don't identify with that because they don't look like me".

    how odd. i thought one of the beautiful things about being human was the ability to empathize and identify with others despite seeming differences, be they aesthetic or generational.

    but hey, i guess some people only care for what looks Exactly Like Them. If that's the case they have only one option - make their own videos where they show Their Kind of Gay in hopes of inspiring others who are Like Them.

    you can't blame others for nor "representing you" when you have no intention of standing up to be counted, raising your voice, and visibly representing YOURselves.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Mar 23, 2012 2:19:54 PM

  21. I am like those guys. I made that clear. And when I try to reach out to the younger generation I know I must, from the start, overcome the superficial differences of age that often get in the way.

    Posted by: Necromancer | Mar 23, 2012 2:55:42 PM

  22. As a former San Franciscan, I saw a great many dear familiar faces in that video, watching it here from DOMA Exile with my husband in London it was hard not to get more that a little choked up. The SFGMC has done a brilliant, wonderful and incredibly powerful thing. Thanks guys... Well done.

    Posted by: Dave & Eric in London | Mar 24, 2012 4:09:17 PM

  23. To all who suffer under this still very homophobic US. The SFGMC gives me hope, & strength we all need. we are beautiful ppl, try & love yourselfs more.Why can't I stop crying....

    Posted by: terryp | Mar 25, 2012 2:24:36 PM

  24. You can't stop crying because you are completely self-involved. Wallowing in being a victim is all you have it appears. A piece that looks like a cancer-care commercial has made you feel sorry for yourself in the most delicious way. Enjoy it I guess - just stay away from at risk youth. If they have any standards at all they will kill themselves rather than be subjected to a lifetime of you and your ilk.

    Posted by: Necromancer | Mar 25, 2012 10:56:26 PM

  25. oOps - sorry - drunken post. Of course memories can come back and haunt us. So sorry.

    Posted by: Necromancer | Mar 26, 2012 7:13:41 AM

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