Filmmakers and partners Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer are bringing attention to a topic that is often overlooked: life for LGBT people in rural America. Their Emmy-winning documentary Out in the Silence, which will have a live virtual screening tonight, follows the story of a small American town confronting a firestorm of controversy ignited by a same-sex wedding announcement in the local newspaper.
What makes this documentary particularly interesting is that it isn’t just any small town, it’s Wilson’s hometown, Oil City, Pennsylvania, a place he left as soon as he graduated from high school. And the same-sex wedding announcement? That’s his too.
According the official website for the film, "Drawn back by a plea for help from the mother of a gay teen being tormented at school, Wilson’s journey dramatically illustrates the universal challenges of being an outsider in a conservative environment and the transformation that is possible when those who have long been constrained by a traditional code of silence summon the courage to break it."
While Wilson is there, he sees what life is like for those LGBT people who still live in Oil City. We meet a lesbian couple, Rox and Linda, refurbishing a historic theater in the town, as well as C.J., the gay teen whose mother summoned Wilson back to Oil City.
It’s a powerful film, and with it the filmmakers are already accomplishing their goals of expanding "public awareness about the difficulties that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people face in rural and small town America and promoting dialogue and action that will help people on all sides of the issues find common ground." The comprehensive website includes updates on local reactions to screenings in places like Spencer, Indiana as well as a guide to upcoming screenings and airdates.
You can watch the video in its entirety here:
Or, if you would like to join the discussion and watch tonight as part of the virtual screening, visit this link 8 pm ET: www.biglive.com/outinthesilence.