“Things seem to be changing … slowly,” said Jeff Davis, regional director at the Benton Center, as students drifted into the Diversity Achievement Center for the presentation of “Out in the Silence” last Friday.
The film, which has won several awards, including an Emmy, chronicles the effects of small-town homophobia.
Filmmaker Joe Wilson attended the LBCC screening of the video, then discussed making the film and answered questions for the two dozen students and staff who attended.
During the event, those gathered were made aware of a flyer that had been circulated that day around campus. The flyer, which targeted the DAC, declared “LBCC presents Jizzfest 2010. ‘It’s cumtastic!’” It included the campus e-mail address and phone number of DAC Coordinator Toni Klohk.
Attendees described the flyer as “appalling” and “hate-based.” They spoke out against the message directed against lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people and their allies.
Wilson called the incident an opportunity for the community to unite in support of the DAC and others on campus.
“It’s a moment to find out who is the majority on this campus,” he said.
Earlier, Wilson described the intolerance that he and his partner Dean Hamer faced after announcing their marriage in Wilson’s hometown newspaper in Oil City, Pa. Furious readers sent letters to the newspaper complaining that gay marriage was not appropriate, that it was an outrage.
Both Wilson and Hamer went into the documentary not only as filmmakers, but as two people who knew they had to share their story to help others.
They are spreading the message of the real problems that are among us every day. In the words of Wilson, “The real question here is: If not us, who? And if not now, when?”
For more information, see outinthesilence.com.
To read a Letter to the Editor sent in by Lynn Cox on the Anti-DAC flyer, click here.
Information for this story contributed by Commuter adviser Rob Priewe.
The documentary puts you in someone else’s shoes and makes you see what it’s like to be tormented for simply being who you are.
When Wilson returned to his hometown four years ago to start filming, he met a young man named C.J. Bills.
Bills came out as being gay when he was 15. He says he went from being a jock and a “cool kid” to being a “queer.” He described going to school as “eight hours of pure hell,” and describes his walk through the halls: filled with taunting, teasing, tripping and shoving.
“No one cared. They gave a deaf ear and a blind eye,” Bills says about the teachers and staff at his high school.
Wilson is on a nationwide tour in support of the video, which debuted about a year ago. The tour is sponsored by a variety of rights and advocacy groups, as well as religious congregations.