Harrison County

‘Small Town Gay Bar’ filmmaker training lens on Just Us in Biloxi

Lynn Koval, center, has operated an LGBT bar in Biloxi for almost 21 years. Koval is pictured with twin sister Lysa Broussard, left, manager of Just Us Lounge, and wife Tammy, who also helps run the bar.
Lynn Koval, center, has operated an LGBT bar in Biloxi for almost 21 years. Koval is pictured with twin sister Lysa Broussard, left, manager of Just Us Lounge, and wife Tammy, who also helps run the bar.

Lynn Koval, the family she has built over almost 21 years as an LGBT bar operator and how her business relates to the community will be featured in “Southern Pride,” a documentary set to start shooting in January.

Malcolm Ingram, director of the 2006 documentary “Small Town Gay Bar,” said he plans to spend about six months filming “Southern Pride.” He’ll be here in the months leading up to gay pride celebrations planned for June. Koval has long had an idea she plans to put in motion while the documentary films.

“I’m very psyched about it,” she said. “One thing I’m very excited about, we have for a long time been wanting to put together a genuine gay pride parade on the Gulf Coast and show our local pride rather than going to Mobile and New Orleans.

“We are going to organize something. There will be a gay pride event some way, somehow. We will be here, out and proud, for the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

And that’s about all Koval wants to say for now.

The film is not a sequel to “Small Town Gay Bar,” a nominee for the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and winner of best documentary at LBGT film festivals. Instead, Ingram said, “Southern Pride” will be a followup.

“Small Town Gay Bar” featured LGBT communities in Meridian in east-central Mississippi and Shannon in north Mississippi.

“I’m looking to uplift things,” said Ingram, who is from Toronto but has traveled extensively in the United States and loves the South. “I’m not looking to destroy things. There’s enough negativity in the world. If you look at all my documentaries, they’re kind of a celebration of how people find each other and how they connect.”

Ingram is raising money for “Southern Pride” with a Kickstarter campaign. His goal is $37,635.

He said he found Koval a few years ago through the Facebook page of her bar, Just Us Lounge, and was impressed with the longevity of her business. Koval will celebrate her 21st year in the bar business Jan. 19, having opened the doors of the Sanctuary on Veterans Avenue back in 1996.

She is known for her passionate support of the LGBT community and for holding fundraisers at Just Us for people in need, whether they be gay or straight.

She keeps Just Us open 24/7, with the help of wife Tammy and twin sister Lysa Broussard, the bar’s manager.

The Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage in June buoyed Koval, but she said the election of Donald Trump as president and his cabinet selections to date have rattled the nerves of her clientele, including racial minorities.

“They are actually expressing fear as to what this all could be about — the election and Trump and the alt-right groups it has sparked,” she said. “We live in a state these groups were born in, so it’s bringing back some raw memories from 25 or 30 years ago. It’s a feeling that something is in the air, and it’s happening at such a fast pace that it’s shocking.”

Ingram said he wants to focus on the safe space Just Us offers.

“I think we all deserve a safe space and I think what Lynn provides there is incredibly important and incredibly worthy to look at and talk about,” he said. “ I just think it’s kind of incredible what Lynn has achieved. I just want to celebrate that and take a look at it.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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