Thursday, March 17, 2011

"A Reminder of the Need to be Open in the Public Square"

Remarks delivered prior to the screening of "Out In The Silence" at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC - March 16, 2011:

Good afternoon, I am Fabrice Houdart, the President of World Bank GLOBE, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender “Staff Club” of the World Bank.

Let me first welcome Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer the co-producers of the documentary “Out in the Silence”. We thank you for accepting the invitation to join us. It took 4 years for Joe and Dean to shoot and edit “Out in the Silence”. It is an often appalling, but ultimately a hopeful documentary about homophobia.

This documentary is a great tool to remind LGBT people of the need to be open in the public square and at work, not only for themselves, but also for the benefit of their community.

This documentary also tries to answer many of the questions that were raised in the past month here at the World Bank by staff members who openly objected to the distribution of the LGBT workplace survey launched by GLOBE.

Questions such as:

[What is] is the ambiguous and controversial agenda that lies behind the banner of discrimination based on “sexual orientation”?“,

why should there be an exclusive class of staff members of whom all the others should be “supportive”?

[are the activities of GLOBE] a step toward indoctrination and the restriction of the freedom of thought and religion?

and finally “doesn’t the staff have the freedom to judge homosexual acts to be objectionable on moral, religious and/or other grounds”?

Although these statements do not favor discrimination directly, the effect of what they stand for ultimately leads to discrimination. The same forces that Joe Wilson went to film in rural America and the fear of a so-called “gay agenda” are present everywhere in the World even right here in the heart of a development institution.

The message of the documentary you are about to discover is that the first step to fighting bigotry is for LGBT people to be out and visible so as to initiate a dialogue.

In an institution where survey results show that 56% of LGBT staff is not out to their supervisor and the majority is not out to their colleagues, it is a challenge which justifies the need for an increased presence of GLOBE not only at Headquarters but also in our Country Offices.

Thank you for coming and please enjoy the screening of "Out in the Silence".

Sunday, March 13, 2011

If Not Now for Fairness and Equality, Then When?

by Joe Wilson:

During a recent visit to Durango, CO for a screening of my film, OUT IN THE SILENCE, in the Durango Independent Film Festival, I was verbally assaulted and physically threatened in an anti-gay tirade by two prominent local businessmen, Joe Leder and Michael Fletcher, while having dinner in a downtown restaurant.

I became the target of their anger, and Leder's raised fist, after I approached them and their female companions to say that I, as a gay man, was disturbed by their loud and mocking references to “queers” in a public setting, and hoped that they would think about the consequences of such behavior in the future.

I decided to say something because, as the co-director of a documentary about equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, I regularly urge audiences to speak up when confronted with intolerance.

How could I not practice what I preach when in such a situation myself?

While Leder, Fletcher and their companions eventually moved on, I was too shaken by the episode to venture out for the film festival-sponsored “gallery walk under the stars” that evening. Rather than risk more trouble, I hunkered down for the night in my hotel.

The next day, film festival personnel and many other community residents expressed embarrassment about the incident and promised to take their concerns to Leder and Fletcher. But I couldn't help but wonder what it must be like to be a victim of such, or worse, abuse and not have anywhere to turn for safety or compassion.

What about the student tortured at school whose teachers turn a blind eye and whose own family would reject him if they found out he was gay? What about the adults who have spent decades alone and in hiding because their church pastors preach that the “homosexual lifestyle” is sinful and wrong? What about the basic rights of millions of LGBT people – to education, employment, housing, marriage and family-formation to name just a few – that have been lost or never enjoyed due to the pervasive bigotry and discrimination that goes unchallenged, day-in and day-out, in towns large and small across the nation?

To those who believe in the promise that all people are created equal and endowed with the unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we have an obligation to ensure that such rights are realized.

If not us to work toward these goals, then who? And if not now, when?

It's time to speak out in the silence for fairness and equality for all!

Please Join the OUT IN THE SILENCE Campaign

Saturday, March 12, 2011

OUT IN THE SILENCE in California

Local Youth Organize Events to Speak OUT IN THE SILENCE
Against Bullying & Discrimination in California

Screenings of award-winning film to help build bridges
on gay issues, bullying and teen suicides

Redwood City / Clovis, CA — March 14, 2011 — A series of free community screenings of OUT IN THE SILENCE, "a stunning documentary" (Philadelphia Inquirer) about the harrowing, ultimately successful battle waged by a gay teen and his mother against recalcitrant school authorities when the teen is brutally attacked for coming out in his small town high school, will follow the film's local premier in the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival (Sat., March 19).

The events, organized by Gay-Straight Alliance, parent, church, and other community leaders, include:

March 22, 7:00pm – Mill Valley Public Library

March 23, 7:30pm – Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto

March 25, 5:00pm – Leon S. and Pete P. Peters Educational Center – Clovis / Fresno

The screenings will be followed by a Q & A session with filmmakers Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer, GSA leaders, and other community representatives aimed at engaging audiences in conversation about building the movement for inclusion, fairness, and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people locally, in California and across the country.

OUT IN THE SILENCE was produced in association with the Sundance Institute, premiered at the 2010 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York, and has won praise from critics and film festivals around the world. But Wilson and Hamer are most interested in using it as part of a grassroots campaign to help raise LGBT visibility, support local organizing and advocacy work, and promote dialogue and civic engagement in smaller cities, towns and rural communities.

At the heart of the campaign is a dedication to the idea that small acts of visibility, particularly in places where they are rare, unexpected, and sometimes unwelcome, help to raise awareness, open-up dialogue and create ripple effects and opportunities to organize for change that go far and wide.

California Gay-Straight Alliance leaders have spearheaded the organizing for these events as a way to help communities respond to the tragic rash of suicides among gay youth that captured the nation's attention last fall and to help counter the pervasive harassment and violence LGBT students face on a regular basis in schools across the state.

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

OUT IN THE SILENCE Campaign work in California made possible by a grant from the Columbia Foundation.


Jason Galisatus
President, Aragon High School Gay-Straight Alliance
T: 650-521-1772

Justin Kamimoto
Clovis North Gay-Straight Alliance

Joe Wilson
T: 202-320-4172

Film Synopsis: When a popular 16-year-old jock is brutally attacked for coming out at his small town high school, his mother reaches out for help to the only person she feels she can trust, an openly gay man who lives 300 miles away – native son and filmmaker Joe Wilson, whose same-sex wedding announcement ignited a firestorm of controversy in the local paper. Returning home with camera in hand, Wilson documents the harrowing but ultimately successful battle waged by the teen and his mom against recalcitrant school authorities, the efforts of a lesbian couple to restore an historic theater in the face of vitriolic anti-gay attacks, and his own unexpected friendship with an Evangelical preacher. As walls are torn down and bridges built, OUT IN THE SILENCE offers a fascinating and moving commentary on America's culture war.


“A stunning documentary” - The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Film Critics Pick-of-the-Week” - New York Times

“Tough. Wrenching. Inspiring.” - OUT Magazine

“Out in the Silence is recommended for all viewers and deserves a place in all library collections, particularly those libraries serving small and rural communities.” - American Library Association

“The recent Out In The Silence screening was the most significant, public and positive event that GLBTQ people in the Klamath area have EVER experienced. EVER. Really. Our group is experiencing it as a watershed event and it has instilled a lot of energy and hope.” - Christy Davis, Supervising Librarian, Klamath County Library Service District, Klamath Falls, OR

“After 'Out In The Silence' played at Williamsport's Community Arts Center in September 2010, I was compelled to write the following message on the film's official website: “Your film does cause one to reflect on one’s own behavior and prejudice. I consider myself a progressive African-American, but the film caused me to doubt my relatively conservative attitudes about homosexuality and the bigotry against gays and lesbians. Mistreatment of another human being is wrong. But, I have not taken a strong stance against the bigotry. I will do better.” - Richard James, Founder, Billtown Film Festival

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gay Filmmaker Gets Death Threat on SUNY Campus

PLATTSBURGH, NY - Prior to Erin Davies's presentation at SUNY-Plattsburgh, where she showed clips from the film that is dedicated to whoever vandalized her car, a student came running in to give her the news. “There’s writing on your car. I just went out to put a note on your car and saw It.” said Alex Fauchet, the treasurer of the GLBT club on campus. Erin asked what type of writing, and the students showed her pictures they took. She ran out to assess the damage. “Faggets + Dikes Must Die” was written on her driver’s side window with black dry erase marker in the same place “fag” was spray painted nearly 4 years ago. “It wouldn’t have been so shocking in the beginning, but after four years and not having it happen. It’s a shock now. It amazes me what people feel comfortable doing when no one’s around. If someone thinks that I’d be open to having a face to face conve rsation about it, but writing on my property when I’m not there to defend myself is just cowardly.”

After showing clips from the film, Erin opened up the conversation by asking what students thought the response would be to having the fagbug on their campus. No one guessed that it would be targeted the way it was. Ten out of around eighty people who were in the audience knew already what had happened. Erin informed the remainder of the audience by putting up a photograph she took of her window, “Faggets + Dikes Must Die.”

This is what was written on my car on your campus about an hour ago. It’s the first time in four years this has ever happened. It didn’t happen on my road trip and I put the car in every vulnerable position you could imagine around the entire country. It hasn’t happened driving the car in my everyday life. It hasn’t happened at any other campuses I’ve been to and I’ve been to almost 100 schools with the car over four years. How does this make you feel?”

“I was shocked that anyone would do such a thing on a vehicle in plain site. What would they have done if it had been out of site? The thought of what could have happened if the car had been farther from campus is unsettling.” –Alex Fauchet

“I'm embarrassed by the actions of the individual who vandalized Erin Davies's car. I feel that this will only contribute to the stereotype that small cities and towns are close-minded and intolerant based on the actions of either a student who wasn't even raised here or a local resident.” - Kathryn Castillo

“It was incredibly upsetting to hear that this was the first time negative graffiti
has defaced the Fagbug since the original incident, and I was saddened but
not surprised that it could happen here.” –Jocelyn Cook

“Although, I'm surprised that it happened. Plattsburgh is not an area that I believe to be very educated on diversity.” -Sarah Wild

“I have lived in Plattsburgh, NY for 3 and half years. Being a gay man I have experienced homophobia all to often in this town. Unfortunately, this also happened to Erin while she was here to give her presentation. I wish the place I call home would evolve and realize that homophobia is a severe problem here. I hope homophobia and acts of violence against gay people in Plattsburgh, NY will change in time for the better. I guess we can all have a dream.” -Dan Sturrock

“This person clearly does not represent the whole campus, however, this will be the memory that will be taken away from that night. What this person did has not only affected Erin but has also affected the entire campus community.” - Hayley Gentner

A student who was physically attacked as part of a hate crime introduced Erin at the beginning of her program. Erin spent a majority of the evening talking about the incident and climate in Plattsburgh.. There was fear in the audience and many stories were shared that backed it up. “At the same token places that are more remote appreciate my presence that much more. The students were so excited to have my car on their campus. They were all outside cheering as I arrived.”
A police officer circled the outside of the auditorium asking Erin, “Would you like to make a report?” “Well, it’s not the way I planned to spend my evening, but of course. I’m a firm believer in documenting things like this. How can you change or fix a problem if no one knows the problem even exists?” The incident was filed as criminal mischief and hate crime.

Once Erin returned to her car after the event, a smile came to her face. She had 12 new hand-written notes left on her car to add to her collection. One included a pastel colored bracelet and the note said, “Here’s a bracelet to remember me and your journey to Plattsburgh. I made this bracelet in my first Day of Silence, the same day your car was vandalized.”

“Things like this make it worth every discomfort or struggle I have or may continue to endure.”

Erin sees the message she received as another teaching moment. “It doesn’t make me feel afraid. I feel even more motivated to educate people on the intolerance that exists. It’s everywhere. People need to know that”

More info at OUTmedia