September 18, 2009

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The documentary film, "Out in the Silence," will be shown at the Campus Theatre in Lewisburg on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 2:30 p.m.

The screening is sponsored by the Bucknell University Office of LGBT Awareness, FLAG&BT and the Central Susquehanna ACLU chapter. Admission is free but donations will be accepted to defray costs.

Following the screening, film-makers Joe Wilson, a native of Oil City, and his partner, Dean Hamer, will participate in a discussion about the rights of LGBT persons in Pennsylvania and across the country.

In addition, Becca Glenn, community organizer with the Pennsylvania ACLU, will speak about the organization's involvement in the story line of the film, as well as the impact of Pennsylvania House Bill 300, which would protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.

'A stunning new documentary'
Produced in association with the Sundance Institute, "Out in the Silence" tells the story of Wilson, who married Hamer, his long-time partner, in Canada and ran a wedding announcement in The Derrick, the Oil City newspaper.

"There was a firestorm of controversy and a flood of negative letters to the editor which said the paper should not have published the announcement, that gay marriage should never be recognized, and that it would have been better if I, as a gay person, had never been born," said Wilson.

"One of the most interesting attacks, in the form of a letter-to-the-editor in The Derrick, came from a fundamentalist minister and his wife," said Hamer.

"Over the course of the next three years, we actually became friends with the fervently religious couple. And once they got to know us as people, they underwent an incredible transformation, all of which is chronicled in the film."


ACLU support
The controversy also introduced Wilson, Hamer and their cameras to CJ, a gay teen being tormented at a high school in Venango County, and his mother, Kathy Springer. Springer turned to Wilson for help after seeing his wedding announcement in the paper. Wilson in turn helped connect them with the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

The film chronicles their courage and willingness to speak out about their lives, with the key backing of the ACLU, showing audiences the remarkable change that is possible when people stand up for what is right in their community.

Wilson and Hamer are working with a variety of organizations, including the ACLU, to take the film to small towns and rural communities throughout Pennsylvania and across the country to help raise awareness about the lives and concerns of LGBT people and encourage viewers to get involved in efforts to promote fairness and equality for all.

The aim of the film and associated community engagement campaign is to expand public awareness about the struggles gay people continue to face in rural and small town America and to promote dialogue and action in communities around the country that will help people on all sides of the issues find common ground. For more information or to view the trailer for the film, visit

Contact: Division of Communications


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