Out Loud chronicles the beginnings of the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, the first all-trans-identified chorus in the United States, which sprang out of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles five years ago. Led by its original co-founder and artistic director Lindsey Deaton, the newly-formed chorus seeks to “find its voice” throughout the course of the documentary as its members learn how to match pitch (a challenge for those whose voices are changing as they undergo hormone therapy), and re-learn how to sing in their new voices, and navigate group dynamics.
Starting on the day of the chorus’ debut concert in 2015, Out Loud (★★★☆☆) shows the behind-the-scenes machinations of the performers as they warm up, check on last-minute details, and begin to prepare. We are then transported back six months to the chorus’ first rehearsal and see firsthand Deaton’s self-doubt about whether the new chorus will survive.
Various chorus members talk about discovering their identity, their coming out processes, their musical backgrounds (or lack thereof) and their reasons for joining. From the guitar player who is part of a band with her cisgender identical twin, to the son of a vocal coach whose transition has taken him from a soprano to a bass, to the dancer who can “pass” without people knowing her trans identity, the audience gains a glimpse into the personal lives of the performers in a way that enhances the film’s overall storyline.
The rest of the movie serves as a “countdown” as the date of the debut performance approaches. Of course, nothing goes exactly as planned: On the day of the concert, a large weather balloon that was supposed to be part of a song and dance number pops, forcing the chorus to scramble. It’s an hour before showtime, and the basses are out-singing — and drowning out — the first tenors. Yet the chorus pulls itself together to deliver a solid first concert.
The film’s theme is centered around finding one’s voice, both as a singer and as a trans person trying to find space in the world. An engaging film that earns its praise, Out Loud offers its audience a concise, easy-to-follow story about how a group of disparate individuals are united by a singular purpose. It’s a “feel-good” story if there ever was one.
Out Loud screens as part of this year’s Reel Affirmations Film Festival. For more information about the festival or to purchase tickets or festival screening passes, visit https://reelaffirmations.eventive.org.
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