Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Out in the Silence

This month the ACLU of PA has been working to bring "Out in the Silence," a film by Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer, to communities across the state. The film has won several awards (including the Audience Award at the Hardacre Film and Cinema Festival in the small town of Tipton, Iowa, and an Alternative Spirit Award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival), but having seen the film five times over the course of three weeks, I do not need to rely on these recommendations - I am somewhat of an expert myself.

By turns sad, funny, and infuriating, the film follows the lives of several current and former residents of Oil City, PA, a small Rust Belt town in western Pennsylvania. After Joe Wilson, a native of the town, decides to place an announcement of his wedding to Dean Hamer in his hometown newspaper, a flurry of nasty responses ensue. One day, however, he receives a letter from a mother in Oil City whose gay teen has been bullied so badly that she has had to withdraw him from school. Knowing of no other place to turn, she has resorted to writing to a man she just happened to see in the newspaper. Joe and Dean return to Oil City to document what is happening with this mother and her son (see page 16 of the ACLU's 2007 Legal Docket for information about the lawsuit they filed against the school district), as well as Joe's former neighbor and her same-sex partner who are working to open a business in town.

Among the films most notable points are the pain experienced by the teenage C.J., the conversations between filmmaker Joe and an evangelical pastor who wrote a letter to the newspaper condemning his wedding announcement, and the father of a teen in a neighboring community who talks about his transformation from someone who would physically assault gay people just for existing to his support of his son today.

If you have not had the opportunity to see "Out in the Silence" at our screenings in Lewisburg, York, Lititz, Harrisburg, or Titusville, you can watch it on WITF November 1, 2009, at 5:00 p.m. Upcoming showings are also planned for Pittsburgh, Erie, Sharon, Oil City, and Stroudsburg.

Want to bring "Out in the Silence" to your town? Contact the producers and your regional ACLU office for help!

Becca in Harrisburg

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you taking this film to Somerset? You should, check out this lovely bit of hate mail in the local paper.


"Saturday, October 17, 2009 9:23 PM EDT
To the editor:

Reading Sunday’s paper about President Obama wanting to change the military to include “out of the closet” gays really got to me.

I am a three tour gulf war disabled veteran. I have over 18 years in the military and knew many homosexuals in it. As long as they left me alone and practiced their sexuality behind closed doors it was no problem for anyone. Now the organization, Human Rights Campaign, is worshipping Obama just like all the wrong element is. Since when does your sexuality choice become a right in America? If something is deviant, un-american or anti-Christian now it is called a right. If you look at the bill of rights nothing is in it about sex. Nothing. Homosexuality or heterosexuality is a choice, by most competent psychologists’ definition that is. Is it a civil right to wear black? To have long hair? To like dogs over cats? Not everything is a right people. But in today’s socialist society, if you disagree with the liberals you are stepping on their “rights” instead of stating your opinion. Can you imagine the U.S. army bases full of cross dressers? Open behavior of two men kissing in foxholes instead of watching for the enemy? I know you are going to say what about the females in the foxholes with men. I was a medic in a field hospital, we trained constantly with the 500 people in our battalion. But if and when we went to war, ALL the females went to the stateside hospital and the untrained hospital medics, trained with us, that is, came to take their place? Does that make sense to you? It didn’t and still doesn’t to me. Why do all the dictators in the world worship Obama along with the deviants?

Castro, Chaves, Olujinmi , Aristide? Does anyone know that Hitler and Stalin were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize also? Our great president is right up their with them. I am sorry but I did not and would not serve in the military with openly outed cross dressers, homosexuals, transgender, meaning a male with a mutilated penis, and or bisexuals. That is my opinion and also that of hundreds of other soldiers I served with. Maybe in today’s feel good, pansy society we live in it is OK but not to the generation of men that I was raised in.

Jeffrey Podsobinski


12:08 AM  
Anonymous Andy Hoover said...

The target markets are small towns in PA, so if someone in Somerset will sponsor it, I'm sure they can get it there.

I've had the pleasure of being at three of the screenings. The film has clearly moved people, and the discussions we've had afterwards have also been compelling.

In Harrisburg, Joe told the story of watching the film with the pastor and his family. When it was over, one of the pastor's 20-something sons said, through tears, "I've never been more proud of you." I was incredibly moved by that.

9:49 AM  
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