Out in the Silence out in the open in small towns

Frederic Cone

Frederic ConeNews Editor

The SD Film Society’s yearly film series got off to a big start last night when it showed the film “Out in the Silence,” a documentary from directors Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer. Immediately following the film there was a panel discussion with the two directors.

Wilson and Hamer are currently on a national tour to promote not only the film but also their campaign and bring awareness to gay rights and issues to small rural towns.

“The main message we are trying to get out is lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people are deserving of fair and equal treatment under the law everywhere in the country, whether they live in big cities or small rural communities,” Wilson said. “We need to figure out ways to support people who live in small towns and communities that are trying to create places that are fully inclusive and welcoming of all and treat everybody with dignity and respect.”

The documentary is about the life of a boy in a rural community who is harassed after he comes out of the closet and openly admits that he is gay. The director is from the same small town and when he and Hamer had their wedding announcement published in the local newspaper, there was a huge backlash from the announcement but the commotion caused some good as well.

“The inspiration for the film was a letter I received from the boy’s mother explaining the situation and how she had nowhere else to turn to,” Wilson said. “I knew that we needed to go there and film it and use it as a way to bring awareness to this issue.”

Their hope is that through the tour and the film, they will be able to open up communities to not only accept the issues but also create environments accepting to those struggling with hiding their true selves for fear of harassment and ridicule from members of their families and communities.

“One of our goals is to speak to the whole community and let everyone know they are responsible for making the needed changes for all members on the towns to feel welcome and safe with who they are,” Hamer said. “We also want to let those who are gay, bi-sexual, lesbian and transgender and are living in those small towns in the closet for fear of retribution, that there are allies and supporters out there to help them. We want them to trust in their hope for a better and safer environment to live in.”

Prior to the film being shown, there also was a dinner with the directors at Pizza Ranch, hosted by the Gay Straight Alliance from SDSU.

“Our hope is to bring awareness and have more in the public that we’re here and to respect us and accept us into the community,” said Lawrence Novotny, senior chemist at SDSU and the advisor for the Gay Straight Alliance.

Presidents of the Gay Straight Alliance, Josh Bell, said overall SDSU and the Brookings community are very supportive and welcoming. However, instances of verbal and physical harassment occur from time to time. The Gay Straight Alliance has support campus-wide from various other organizations such as the Campus Women’s Coalition and the Society of Agnostic, Atheist and Free Thinkers (SAAFE).

“The Gay Straight Alliance is a growing organization and our focus is to create safe environments and a supportive atmosphere for our members,” said Josh Bell, the current president of the organization. “Our meetings are held on Thursday nights at 7:00 p.m. in The Student Union. We also have a Facebook group under the name GSA.”

#1.1599842:217224274.jpg:From left to right: Josh Bell, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, and Lawrence Novotny.:From left to right: Josh Bell, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, and Lawrence Novotny gather at Pizza Ranch prior to premier of the feature film ?Out in the Silence.?:Collegian photo by Frederic Cone