Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Clarion University of Pennsylvania for Equality

"Out In The Silence" at Clarion University of Pennsylvania
(With Special Performance by Folk/Rock Legend Namoli Brennet)
Monday - November 7 - 7:00 PM

OUT IN THE SILENCE, an acclaimed film that looks at an issue of urgent local and national concern -- fairness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people -- will kick off Clarion University's Equity Week: Building Communities of Inclusion and Empowerment.

Sponsored by the Office of Social Equity and the Martin Luther King Jr. Committee, the event is scheduled for 7:00 PM, Mon., Nov. 7 in the Hart Chapel.

Namoli Brennet, a major contributor to the film's soundtrack will open the event with a few songs, and filmmakers Joe Wilson, a native of nearby Oil City, PA, and his partner Dean Hamer will be on-hand for a post-screening conversation to get the audience fired up about challenging anti-LGBT bigotry and discrimination and building the local movement for justice & equality for all.

The Clarion screening holds special significance because Western Pennsylvania is not only the setting for the stories in OUT IN THE SILENCE, it is home base for the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, the state affiliate of the American Family Association, a national 'traditional values' organization that was recently designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for the “thoroughly discredited falsehoods and demonizing propaganda it pumps out about homosexuality and other sexual minorities.”

The American Family Association of Pennsylvania also features prominently in the film as a result of the role it plays in promoting anti-LGBT attitudes and policies in the area and throughout the state.

OUT IN THE SILENCE captures the remarkable chain of events that unfold when a same-sex wedding announcement and the brutal bullying of a gay teen ignite a ļ¬restorm of controversy and a quest for change in the small Pennsylvania town of Oil City. Tough and wrenching, inspiring and entertaining, this Emmy Award-winning film is challenging audiences across the country, and around the world, to rethink their values and consider how they can help close the gaps that have divided families, friends, churches, and communities on these issues for far too long.

The film was produced in association with the Sundance Institute and Penn State Public Broadcasting, premiered at the 2010 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York, and won an Emmy Award for Achievement in Documentary.

The characters in the film are just ordinary people – a kid and his mom, two women who start a business, an Evangelical preacher and his wife – but their stories get at the heart of how anti-LGBT stigma and repression continue to harm individuals and divide communities,” said filmmaker Wilson. “That's why we're using it as a tool for education and activism, especially in small towns and rural communities, where there often isn't any visible or organized gay presence at all.”

At the heart of the campaign is a dedication to the idea that small acts of LGBT visibility in places where they are rare, and sometimes unwelcome, 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.

Some of the campaign's events have been targeted by opponents for protests and threats. For example, at an Oct. 10 event in Tupelo, Mississippi, home of the American Family Association, acts of intimidation and a bomb threat were made in attempts to thwart the event, but they failed to derail the first-ever public pro-equality rally in the community.

More often, however, “Out In The Silence events have become forums, a place to meet where there has been no place, to talk where there is a desire to talk but little occasion,” wrote JoAnn Wypijewski in The Nation.

Filmmaker Wilson hopes that Clarion students, faculty and administrators, as well as state and local elected representatives, civic, community and religious leaders will attend the event to express their support for inclusion, fairness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all people, particularly youth, who call the region home.

To see a trailer or for more information about the film, please visit:

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