Monday, February 21, 2011

OUT IN THE SILENCE on Arizona Public Media

Interview by "Arizona Illustrated" host Kimberly Craft:

In 2006, human rights activist Joe Wilson published an announcement of his wedding to his same-sex partner in his small hometown of Oil City, Pennsylvania. That one act sparked a whirlwind of controversy, and it led Wilson back home in an effort to chronicle and understand his home's relationship to homosexuality, inclusion and equality.

Now a filmmaker, Wilson joins the studio to talk about Out in the Silence, the widely acclaimed documentary that grew from his experiences. He shares the story behind the movie, its impact on his hometown and his hopes that it will strengthen Arizona's efforts to heal community divides.

Arizona will host several screenings of the film, sponsored by the Pima County Public Library System, ACLU of Arizona, Wingspan Anti-Violence Project, The Amancio Project, and the Yuma High School GSA. Screenings are scheduled for:

Feb. 22, 7:30pm - The Loft Cinema - Tucson

Feb. 23, 6:30pm – Arivaca Old School - Arivaca

Feb. 24, 6:00pm - Yuma County Main Library - Yuma

Feb. 25, 1:00pm - Salazar-Ajo Library - Ajo

In addition to the film's hopeful and entertaining stories, and dynamic post-screening discussions with filmmaker Joe Wilson and local organizers, the Arizona events will feature performances by special guest Namoli Brennet, a Tucson-based transgender musician. (Brennet's music is a major feature of the film's soundtrack.)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

February Update: OUT IN THE SILENCE in Arizona, California, Colorado, and beyond ...

Puts Spotlight on Efforts to Heal Community Divides

As Arizonans grapple with the effects of last month's tragic shooting spree in Tucson, an amazing coalition of groups has organized a series of exciting OUT IN THE SILENCE screening events to help bring people together AND to rock their socks off! In addition to the film's hopeful and entertaining stories and dynamic post-screening discussions, the events will feature special performances by hauntingly inspirational Tucson-based musician, and OITS soundtrack contributor, NAMOLI BRENNET!

Hope you can join us ...

Feb. 22, 7:30pm - The Loft Cinema - Tucson

Feb. 23, 6:30pm - Arivaca Old School - Arivaca

Feb. 24, 5:00pm - Yuma County Main Library - Yuma

Feb. 25, 1:00pm - Salazar-Ajo Library - Ajo

Sponsoring organizations include the Pima County Library System, ACLU of Arizona, Wingspan Anti-Violence Project, The Amancio Project, and the Yuma High School GSA.

The OITS Campaign will be out on the road
in many other spots as well ...

Feb. 9, 8:30pm - The Dome @ Artisphere - Arlington, VA

Feb. 12, 3:00pm - Uniontown Public Library - Uniontown, PA

Feb. 13, 1:30pm - Christ's Evangelical Lutheran Church - Beaver Falls, PA

March 3, 9:00am - Durango Independent Film Festival - Durango, CO

March 5, 3:00pm - Durango Independent Film Festival - Durango, CO

March 10, 7:00pm - University of Scranton - Scranton, PA

March 19, 7:00pm - Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival - Sebastopol, CA

March 30, 7:00pm - Wabash College - Crawfordsville, IN

Stay Tuned, Many More In-The-Works ...

Full screening schedule HERE. Is your community on the MAP?


Launch of California Initiative

With support from the Columbia Foundation, the OUT IN THE SILENCE Campaign is launching a major initiative to help raise awareness and connect, inspire and mobilize LGBT people and allies in small towns and rural communities across California.

In partnership with state and local groups, the Campaign will conduct town hall-style events in public libraries, churches, schools, colleges and universities, community centers, and local theaters aimed at garnering the media and other forms of public attention necessary to help build bridges across the religious and political divides that have harmed families, friends and communities for far too long.

If you or your organization have ideas to contribute or would like to be involved, please contact OITS Campaign Director, Joe Wilson -- Email:

The age-old quote from Margaret Mead may be a bit overused, but it sure applies here:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has."



At the heart of the OUT IN THE SILENCE Campaign is a dedication to the idea that small acts of LGBT visibility in places where they are rare and unexpected help to raise awareness and open-up dialogue in profound new ways and create ripple effects and opportunities to organize for change that go far and wide.

To help us continue building the movement for justice, equality, and human rights for all, particularly out in small towns and rural communities, please get involved.


LGBT Film Hits Home in Scranton

by Rich Howells for The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader:

SCRANTON – A free film screening of “Out in the Silence” sparked a lively and oftentimes personal conversation about inclusion and equality for the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community on Jan. 29 at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church on Wyoming Avenue.

Filmmaker Joe Wilson received a mass of hate mail for placing a wedding announcement to his partner Dean Hamer in his local newspaper, but he was also sent a letter from Kathy Springer, a woman from his hometown whose son, C.J., was being bullied for also being openly gay.

The couple returned to Oil City, Pa., to chronicle the 16-year-old’s struggle for acceptance and confront ongoing bigotry in the small town that Wilson had moved away from years before.

The award-winning documentary touched many of the more than 60 attendees, including hosts Rev. Peter D’Angio of St. Luke’s and Rabbi Daniel Swartz of the Temple Hesed. They were joined by Rosanne Kolberg, a member of NEPA Citizens In Action whose daughter is gay, and Jessica Rothchild, president and founder of Scranton Inclusion, the University of Scranton’s first officially recognized gay-straight alliance, for a subsequent Q&A discussion.

“This is a town like Oil City that has faced and is facing economic problems. I’ve got to feel like that niceness could be turned into a much broader welcome than it is, especially given some of the other towns around here and the way they treated immigrants, for example, and that can be turned into an island of welcoming in a stormy sea,” Swartz said.

“It’s been important for Peter and me to speak up because, unfortunately, sometimes, on issues like welcoming the LGBT community, religion has been on the wrong side. There are plenty of us who believe that all of us are created in the image of God.”

D’Angio, an openly gay pastor who leads “a progressive faith community” in his church, said that he has had his own “Oil City moment” in Scranton when he reached out to another local pastor, who considered him a sinner for being a homosexual.

“It can be a lonely place for all of us who are LGBT in this city, and I would hope that the conversation would get us to have gay-straight alliances that don’t just exist at the University of Scranton but exist in the city for the good of the city,” D’Angio said.

Rothchild said that while University President Rev. Scott R. Pilarz and Diocese of Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera have not tried to ban their alliance, they did have some difficulty forming the group and have been wary of others who are not as tolerant.

“Being in such a religious community, and especially at the University of Scranton, it has been a bit difficult. We’ve had a few issues where we’ve had to watch out for people who are more radical in their beliefs and don’t want us doing what we want to do,” Rothchild said.

Kolberg, who says she gets “verklempt” whenever she watches “Out in the Silence,” said that her daughter is marrying her partner soon and stressed that acceptance starts at home.

“Thank God my daughter did not have to drop out of school or be harassed, but there are many other kids that are still getting harassed, and that’s one kid too many,” Kolberg said.

Those in attendance also came forward with their own tales of discrimination and perseverance.

One Scranton woman named Debbie said that she found a local church where she felt included until she applied for membership.

“I was told that unless I denounced my life, and I must say ‘life’ because if I choose the word ‘lifestyle’ that implies I have a choice, I couldn’t become a member of that church,” she explained. “I still go to that church every Sunday. The pastor and I know each other, and he knows my story very well, and he has to see me sit there every single day loving God with all my heart. Sometimes you have to stand up and you have to be present in a place where you’re not wanted.”