A satirical song by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has awakened the conservative rage machine. The track takes a common homophobic trope and flips it on its head, with the lyrics, “We’ll convert your children/ We’ll make them tolerant and fair.”
The song, “A Message From the Gay Community Performed by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus,” was originally posted to YouTube on July 1st. By July 7th it had been taken down, as some of the worst people on the internet used it as a call to the Culture Wars, intentionally missing the joke in order to accuse the LGBTQ+ community of pedophilia.
“A Message” almost anticipated the controversy by kicking off with a statement for bigots. “As we celebrate Pride and the progress we’ve made over these past years,” soloist Troy Iwata said, “There’s still work to be done. So to those of you out there who are still working against equal rights, we have a message for you.”
The song begins in earnest with a verse to people who “think we’re sinful/ You fight against our rights/ You say we all lead lives you can’t respect.” The lyrics then reference the fabled “gay agenda,” a term coined by conservative religious groups in the early 1990s to disparage a movement towards equal rights. The joke sees the Chorus leaning into the bit, admitting that they do have an agenda of “turning your children into accepting, caring people.”
In the hook, they sing, “We’ll convert your children / Happens bit by bit/ Quietly and subtly/ And you will barely notice it/ You can keep ’em from disco/ Warn about San Francisco/ Make ’em wear pleated pants, we don’t care/ We’ll convert your children/ We’ll make them tolerant and fair.”
In response, professional mouth-frothers simply pretended it was a threat instead of a joke. The magazine The American Conservative wrote that, “the gays are targeting our kids… the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus said the quiet part out loud.” The same article suggested it wouldn’t be wrong to “pass a law keeping LGBT media from targeting kids.” The Post Millennial accused the Choir of “outlining how they’ll ‘convert your children,'” and described singing — yes, singing – as “chant[ing] in a frenzy,” the better to liken queer people to a cult.
A quick perusal of search engines will show you more Fox News commenters, bloggers, and Twitter users behaving as if the world is ending, though you may need a shower afterwards. It’s almost enough to make a person give up on humanity — except we have the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus as an example of perseverance in the face of intolerance. As the group sings, they haven’t given up on the bigots: “We’ll make an ally of you yet.”
Check out a re-uploaded version of the song below.