Monday, February 21, 2011

OUT IN THE SILENCE on Arizona Public Television

Interview by "Arizona Illustrated" host Kimberly Craft:

In 2006, human rights activist Joe Wilson published an announcement of his wedding to his same-sex partner in his small hometown of Oil City, Pennsylvania. That one act sparked a whirlwind of controversy, and it led Wilson back home in an effort to chronicle and understand his home's relationship to homosexuality, inclusion and equality.

Now a filmmaker, Wilson joins the studio to talk about Out in the Silence, the widely acclaimed documentary that grew from his experiences. He shares the story behind the movie, its impact on his hometown and his hopes that it will strengthen Arizona's efforts to heal community divides.

Arizona will host several screenings of the film, sponsored by the Pima County Public Library System, ACLU of Arizona, Wingspan Anti-Violence Project, The Amancio Project, and the Yuma High School GSA. Screenings are scheduled for:

Feb. 22, 7:30pm - The Loft Cinema - Tucson

Feb. 23, 6:30pm – Arivaca Old School - Arivaca

Feb. 24, 6:00pm - Yuma County Main Library - Yuma

Feb. 25, 1:00pm - Salazar-Ajo Library - Ajo

In addition to the film's hopeful and entertaining stories, and dynamic post-screening discussions with filmmaker Joe Wilson and local organizers, the Arizona events will feature performances by special guest Namoli Brennet, a Tucson-based transgender musician. (Brennet's music is a major feature of the film's soundtrack.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Homophobia Starts At Home

by Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson for the Huffington Post:

Last month's horrific murder of Ugandan gay activist David Kato sparked outrage and a series of protests against the U.S.-based religious groups responsible for exporting American-style bigotry and homophobia to Africa, resulting most infamously in Uganda's pending "kill-the-gays" bill.

While such activism is sorely needed, the focus on foreign countries prompts the question: Why are we not equally outraged and rising up against the massive damage these same conservative religious groups cause right here at home?

Organizations such as the American Family Association, for example, are too clever to propose a law that would impose the death penalty on homosexuality in the U.S. -- that would be a bit obvious -- but they continue to use their well-funded propaganda machine to spew anti-LGBT lies and distortions that have a similar effect, creating an atmosphere so poisoned and repressive that many LGBT people, particularly in small towns and rural communities, live their entire life in the closet or possibly even take the ultimate step of suicide.

This video of small town "family values" mom Meribeth Glenn sadly demonstrates how these tactics play out. Many of her statements, including the presumed connection between marriage equality and bestiality, are taken straight from the AFA, which broadcasts a regular program on her local Christian radio station. In fact, Glenn consented to speak on camera only after consulting with her Venango County-based AFA chapter head, Diane Gramley.

When anti-gay bigotry and hatred is a commonplace and accepted feature of conservative and religious broadcasting -- as it is today in the U.S. -- and when its adherents incorporate these messages into the lexicon of their own daily lives -- as Glenn and millions of other people do -- is it any wonder that we continue to see LGBT lives ruined, families and communities in distress and a rash of gay teen suicides?

And when the President of the United States feels comfortable attending a National Prayer Breakfast event, as he did on Feb. 3, supported and attended by the AFA and other conservative religious groups -- including "The Family," the very group pushing for the anti-gay legislation in Uganda -- is it any wonder that the best response we can muster to the recent rash of gay teen bullying and suicides is to promise that "it gets better"?

Recently, Dan Savage -- creator of the 'It Gets Better' video campaign -- declared in a Newsweek interview that "the culture war is over" and later that the homophobes are "losing the battles [that] are taking place in living rooms all over the country." Obviously Savage hasn't spent much time in the living rooms of people like Meribeth Glenn or he would realize that there are still many battles to be fought to ensure that all people -- here in the U.S., as well as in Uganda and other countries around the world -- can live full lives, openly, with dignity, respect and equal treatment under the law.

The late David Kato knew that his activism put him at risk. When asked by a reporter why he gave up the comfortable life of an educated professional in relatively progressive South Africa to return home to Uganda, he said "My role is to fight and liberate."

As residents of the country from which much of the global anti-LGBT crusade emanates, we feel that we all have a similar obligation. Please join us in the OUT IN THE SILENCE Campaign for Fairness and Equality and learn what you can do to make our own country and the world a safer and more welcoming place for all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Truth Wins Out Slams The American Family Association For Offensive Remarks Against Native Americans

Companies Should No Longer Pay Attention to Boycott Threats From Certified Hate Group

by Wayne Besen, Truth Wins Out:

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Truth Wins Out condemned the American Family Association (AFA) today for writing a remarkably bigoted article titled, “Native Americans Morally Disqualified Themselves From the Land.” The AFA is best known for its anti-gay activism and launch of boycotts against companies that it deems too gay-friendly. The latest op-ed by the organization’s spokesperson, Bryan Fischer, provides yet another reason why corporations should ignore pressure campaigns by the AFA.

“We are appalled by the American Family Association’s reprehensible remarks that distort history and demean Native Americans,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Responsible companies should no longer give The American Family Association the time of day and their boycott threats should be ignored. This organization has shown itself unfit to be part of the adult conversation and it certainly does not represent the majority of families.”

The American Family Association was recently certified as an official hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Fischer’s latest column provides evidence that this was a wise decision by SPLC.

“In all the discussions about the European settlement of the New World, one feature has been conspicuously absent: the role that the superstition, savagery and sexual immorality of native Americans played in making them morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil,” Bryan Fischer wrote on the website, “Rightly Concerned” a project of The American Family Association.

“This nauseating rhetoric is usually reserved for LGBT people, but apparently the American Family Association has more than one group it likes to dehumanize,” said Truth Wins Out’s Wayne Besen. “The true character of the AFA has been revealed and no corporation or politician can pretend that this group has even a shard of credibility. The only reasonable response to AFA threats is to not return their calls and pretend they don’t exist.”

The AFA is a Tupelo, Mississippi-based organization known for launching failed boycotts against companies such as The Walt Disney Company, Home Depot, Wal Mart, Ford Motor Company and McDonalds. The group’s once accused Mighty Mouse of snorting cocaine.

Writers for AFA’s website include Chuck Norris, Janet Porter, David Limbaugh and Rev. Rey Pritchard.

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.