Out in the Silence (2009) Script

Re-synched and adjusted from the YIFY sub by effegi

I hate it around here, I hated so much.

My house burnt down and stuff because I'm a fighter.

It's just ridiculous, an entire living like that.

Confining myself into this house so I can stay alive.

I remember what it's like to grow up in a place where you feel trapped alone.

Where safer to be silent than to be yourself.

I remember because I was born and raised in the same place as C J.

Oil City.

A small town with small town values, in the hills of western Pennsylvania.


I was the youngest in a big irish catholic family.

Mom was a nurse, and dad was Custodian at the catholic school we all attended.

We didn't have much money, but life was good, And I didn't have a care in the world.

As I got older, I started to feel a lilltle different.

By the time I was a teen, I realized that I was gay.

I'm like C J. I was too afraid to let anyone know.

So I kept silent and managed to get by.

As soon as I graduated high school, I got out of town.

I went off to college, Joined the peace corps, and found myself identifying with others who had been silenced.

I ended up in washington, D.C.

I met Dean playing pickup basketball.

We got along right from the start, and before long we found love and got married.

That's when I decided to do what I wish I could have done a long time ago Be open about who I was back in my hometown.

I put our wedding announcement in Oil's City paper, The Derrick.

It didn't take long For the letters to start pouring in.

Woman: "editor: Common sense tells us Marriage is between a man and a woman."

Man: "I am shaking with anger as I write this."

Woman: "I was sick to my stomach When I saw and read the announcement..."

Man: "Homosexuality is immoral."

Man: "it would be better for you not to have been born.

Think about that."

The reactions to my wedding announcement didn't really surprise me.

Then I got a letter I didn't expect.

"Dear mr. Wilson, I searched for your address in washington, D.C., "after I saw your wedding announcement in the paper.

"I'm the mother of a 16-year-old boy

"who is being treated unjustly because he is gay.

"I was told you were born and raised in oil city, "so I feel a connection to you.

"last night, my son, C.J., cried for three hours

"after being abused in public because of being gay.

"I'm so afraid for him.

"I don't know where else to turn.

"please help if you can.

Sincerely, Kathy Springer."

Kathy's letter made me realize that things hadn't change that much in oil city.

Here it was. 25 years after my own fear of being found out forced me to keep quiet.

In kids like C J still had to live in silence.

I wanted to go back to oil city to meet C J and Kathy, and to help document her story.

I asked Dean to grab the camera.

I dreamed of fires burning

low

in my head

on a map below

like an old friend

that I used to know

I've got seven hours

and 15 miles to go

instead

and ain't it good

to be back home?

Young man: This was my school.

Every day when the bus stopped and I walked through that door to my locker became eight hours of pure hell.

Wilson: What went on in there?

Well, kids would come by, hit me with my locker, I'd fall on the ground, My books would fly everywhere.

I was slammed into the lockers, Hit with stuff, being yelled, "faggot."

Yep.

This hall was always lovely.

I'd have to walk through a crowd Of kids, and there would always definitely be Some tripping going on or shoving or pushing.

Grab my backpack and yanking me, And stupid stuff.

What did you feel inside when that kind of stuff was happening?

Terrified. Nobody cared.

None of the teachers cared.

None of the administrators cared.

They always gave a deaf ear And a blind eye.

They'd watch everything, never say a word.

Wilson: I wanted to understand why my home town was still so hostile to kids like C J.

It seemed like talking with people who denounced our wedding announcement in the paper Would be a logical place to start.

Only one couple agreed to be interviewed.

Pastor Mark Micklos and his wife, Diana.

If I grant two men the right to get married, what's wrong with incest or polygamy or - and it would just, just expands, and I think that things -

I think at times we've seen that happen.

In plumbing, there's fittings, And they're called male and female fittings.

And you could probably Plumb a house with all male fittings, But it seems like the design is for male and female, Not for two likes to be together.

It was hard to listen to what the Mickloses were saying, But the fact that they invited us to their home And we were talking seemed like an opening.

When I asked them why they had taken the trouble To write about our wedding announcement, They told me that their church had received an alert That asked members to write in protest.

It was sent by the Pennsylvania arm of the american family association, A conservative values organization based in Mississippi.

How did they key in on our little wedding announcement so fast?

It turns out that the AFA's chapter president, Diane gramley, lives right there in the area And has a program on a local radio station.

Woman: Welcome to

"American Family Focus on Pennsylvania issues,"

A weekly program which discusses some of the happenings that are of concern to the family and those who hold traditional values in Pennsylvania.

And now your host, Diane Gramley, state director of American Family Association of Pennsylvania.

Gramley: The question comes down to, Should a lifestyle that will result in the destruction Of traditional marriage and the natural family -

Not even mentioning The physical, mental, and psychological dangers To those involved in this lifestyle -

Be normalized and codified into the laws of the land?

Those involved in this lifestyle are sinners, And they need to accept the saving grace Of jesus christ, just like you and me.

Wilson: Back when I was growing up, People didn't talk about lifestyle so openly.

And at my house, Sexuality or being gay wasn't discussed at all.

Even though right on our street, Just two doors down from our house, We had a neighbor with a rainbow flag on her door.

Woman: I've lived in this community Since I was 17 years old, and I've always been open.

I mean, I never wore my sexuality on a sleeve, But people always knew who I was.

Nobody was ever negative to me, except one occasion.

I was hired at this firm, And I worked there about six months, And then the president of the company, After the christmas party - and I took my partner -

Came in a few days later and fired me.

Said he couldn't have the likes Of somebody like me working for the company.

Okay.

Be good, you guys.

Come here. Come on.

This is my house Where my stepdad sells smelly birds.

Wilson: "choo-kers?" chukars or something like that?

Chukars.

Chukars, quails, and pheasants.

Probably stinks.

Yeah, it stinks.

Okay, the smell is a little too much, Okay, it's a little too real.

That is not a place for -

Bills: The first day we came back from christmas vacation, This kid, richie"

Who everybody's known he was gay since, like, The day he was born, came back to school.

And I went into my history class, Last period of the day, And some kid stood up and came over to him, 'cause he was standing by the door

'cause he didn't have a seat or anything yet -

And some kid was like, "hey, are you a faggot?"

And I stood up, and I got in his face, And I was like, "why you got to call him that?

"what did he do to you?

"he's just standing there, hasn't said a word to anybody.

Leave him alone."

And he's like, "what? So are you a hard-ass homo then?"

He's like, "you think you can take me?"

And I was like, "dude, I might be a faggot, But I'm more of a man than you'll be."

And he's like, "so you're admitting it?"

And I was like, "I am admitting

"that if you say another word to me like that again, I am going to take your teeth out."

There was a lot he didn't even tell me, You know, at first, Because he'd come home, And he'd be real quiet, and he'd go to his room, And he wouldn't come out for hours.

I said, "you know, C.J., "there is nothing you could possibly be in this world That would ever make me stop loving you."

So then, finally, one day, he says, "I'm tired of denying who I am, "and I'm tired of the abuse

"and the harassment that gays take, "and I'm just coming out with it, I don't care."

C.J. told me we wanted to make videos himself.

So we gave him a camera and helped him get started by filming one of his friends.

Hamer: And if you want a close-up, You go like that.

Oops. Or whatever.

And if you want far away, you go like that.

So you try it. Film something.

That's awesome.

I was hoping C.J. would use his camera to show what life was like for him as a gay teen.

For practice, I asked him to join us at a concert I helped to organize featuring my friend Namoli Brennet.

I'm so, so happy to be here.

Namoli's a transgendered musician from a small town, who lives her life very openly.

I thought she might be an inspiration for folks in oil city.

There wasn't a big crowd, but they seemed to connect with Namoli and her music.

And I received some gifts, I received some little cruets of crude oil.

I thought the salt and dressing, Oil. Not oli on... but oil!

you don't know when you're gonna find me

you don't know when you're gonna take me

home Wilson: Oil city used to be a very different kind of place.

Back in 1859 when colonel Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in the United States there.

It became a boomtown, full of new people and fresh ideas.

The growth and prosperity lasted for another 100 years, as the oil city became a refining and industrial center and a melting pot for immigrants from all over Europe.

There was a lot of money in oil, say, and people used it to build imposing banks, public libraries, tall spired churches of all denominations, and elegant Victorian houses.

But by the time I came along, the big refineries and manufacturing plants had all shut down.

And jobs and people were moving out.

The population dropped by half.

It become the sort of rust belt town that time seemed to be leaving behind, Where things didn't change much And outsiders were viewed with suspicion.

Like many small towns, Oil city is trying to make a comeback.

It still has its history and plenty of small town charme.

But it's not clear if that will be enough.

Brennet: I can be

myself Thanks, everybody.

Wilson: The biggest event of the year in oil city Is the oil heritage parade.

Most people come out to watch their kids March Or their friends ride around on silly floats.

Even in the pouring rain.

So I wasn't expecting to see an anti-gay marriage protest Led by none other than Diane Gramley Of the American Family Association.

She'd already refused several requests To be formally interviewed, So I tried a more direct approach.

Hi, Dane. How are you?

Fine, and you?

I'm not going to be part of your documentary.

Yeah, we just wanted to know why You're so actively seeking To discriminate against gay and lesbian people.

We talked about it on the phone.

Well, why do you think that they don't deserve To live freely in society as you do?

They have every right to live freely, And they are living freely in society.

I would like to know why you encourage children To participate in a dangerous lifestyle.

Hey, Joe, how you doing?

Good, and you? Nice to see you.

Good seeing you. Yeah.

Gramley: There've been homosexuals throughout society, But they have not attempted To redefine marriage and family as they are today.

Everything else with gay people is okay, right?

They can teach school.

If they have a job, and they're doing their job, They have every right to have that job.

And they could be out on the job and tell people That they're gay when they're asked?

No, 'cause that's promoting a lifestyle.

Well, I know that.

Wilson: Things had become increasingly bad At C.J.'s high school.

When he finally complained about the abuse he was receiving, The assistant principal blamed him for the trouble And called the state police.

Kathy decided to take C.J. Out of school And go to the school board for answers.

All: One nation under god, Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Woman: Any other business to enter?

My name's - oh, I'm sorry.

Please state your name for the record.

My name is Kathy Springer.

Have you implemented, Or are you going to implement A change in how discrimination is handled In this school district?

I recently had to pull my son out Because of discrimination and how it was handled.

Are you - is there a better way of handling things?

Man: Ma'am, do me a favor. Will you give me a call?

Okay? This isn't the time to -

I just, as a taxpayer, wanted to know if -

You know, should I decide to send my son back?

Are there going to be any changes? That's all.

There have been discussions taking place, And there have been issues Not only with myself and mr. Richmond, Mr. Forrester, and the other principals, So I don't know if that's -

But, please, feel free to give me a call, okay?

It was like, "oh, god, Give her her five minutes and get her out of here."

I really don't see that they've seen us as a threat or anything.

We were just an annoyance.

Mm-hmm.

Wilson: Shortly after kathy's appearance, The school board did propose a plan For inclusive anti-discrimination training.

But there was suddenly an unusual amount Of opposition from the community, Especially from an african-american pastor Who wanted the training to focus only on race And not even mention sexual orientation.

A Derrick reporter discovered The reason for the racial outcry.

Diane Gramley had sent out another action alert.

This one accused the school district Of trying to hijack civil rights to promote homosexuality.

The diversity training never happened.

I have to admit, in this environment, It was a clever strategy To pit one minority group against another.

I'll tell you what we're doing.

We got married a couple years ago"

And we put our wedding announcement in the paper, And it turned into this, like, controversy or whatever.

I got beat up about a month ago.

What? Oh, yeah.

I never thought people were racist or anything.

I'm arab, and this girl wouldn't stop talking crap, And I faced her in lunch, and she ploughed me right down.

There was blood all over me.

I didn't have a chance.

This place is rough.

If you are not a man With white And who likes to do the missionary position, It's over.

Wilson: Although gay people are everywhere, We're not always visible.

Roxanne and some of her friends Wanted to change that in oil city.

They put together a volunteer group to participate In community activities like town cleanup day.

What are you guys up to today?

Man: Everybody that's driving by thinks That we're on work release and that's why we're out here.

Wilson: Would you mind saying A little bit of a word right now?

Just being out in the community doing something, Just helping.

It's kind of a nasty day, but we did it anyway.

Hey, Greg.

What?

Can you say a little bit About what you're doing today?

Wilson: Cleanup day was supposed to be a community-wide event, But we only saw one other volunteer Who wasn't part of Roxanne's group.

So I asked her, "if there were a visible gay and lesbian group in oil city Would anyone in the community object?"

I guess you're going to have radicals everywhere, And they'll find a way to articulate what bothers them.

But how can you target people who are doing something good?

You know?

Brennet: ain't it good to be back home?

Me being me? Yeah..

I definitely want to see that.

Oh, no.

C.J., is there anything on there You don't want me to see?

Is this on?

Hello out there.

Okay.

Boy: That hurt?

I'm feeling so unique

I'm feeling really funky

I kind of like this beat

could this be a dream?

sometimes it's hard to tell the difference

I made

too many hazy nights

too many lonely days Stop, C.J.

set me free

come on and set me free

I got to set me free Jesus Christ!

I think I got spina bifida. Cut.

I know.

Boy: He went "Oops."

Wilson: How do you feel, as a parent, That the cyber school is the option -

That I had to turn to?

I don't like the idea, no.

My son, I wanted him to be able to be involved With all the other school activities, The camaraderie, you know, everything, The prom, the whole schmear, you know.

And I feel that he was gypped.

He doesn't have that interaction That I think he needs.


Hitchcock: Y know, one thing about living in a small town Is that the gene pool is so limited.

You know, trying to meet somebody is really hard.

Wilson: So who's this special lady that's in your life?

Her name is Linda.

Where's she at?

I'll never forget how excited you were When I talked to you on the phone, And you said, "Oh, I met somebody."

Henderson: Well, the cool part about it Is everybody's saying the same thing about me.

People asking me what in the world's going on

'cause I'm running around smiling a lot.

You know, all of the sudden, I've been telling people I have a family now.

Hitchcock: In some ways, she's the total opposite of me.

You know, I can be aggressive and antagonistic, And she's just kind of quiet and the peacemaker, And she's just calm.

And she's very gifted. She's great with people.

She is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Henderson: I was with George Washington

one night at Valley Forge

"why do the soldiers freeze here like they do?"

he said, "men will suffer, fight

"even die for what is right

"even though they know

they're only passing through"

passing through

sometimes happy, sometimes blue

glad that I ran into you

I've some little time

now I'm just passing through Wilson: Whoo.

Beautiful voice.

Thank you.

Since I was told I could do a Powerpoint on anything I wanted to do that interested me, I choose something that I know a lot about, which is the struggle of GLBT, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trandgender people in our country.

7 years ago, a Wyoming young man named Matthew Shepard, a 21 year old college student, was taken out to the desert and savagely beaten to death for being and openly gay man.

And there's... that says: What part of love don't you understand?

C.J. was doing a project on discrimination from one of his cyberschool classes.

When he asked me where he could find information about the question about what makes people gay, I told him he might want to interview a real expert.

I'm Dr. Dean Hamer, I work at the National Institutes of Health, and I've been working on the genetics of human personality the last few years.

Did you get through a lot of controversy when you first came out with the thought that:

"Oh, I'm gonna... you know, look for... wide gay people that way".

When I decided to study sexual orientation, the reaction from most of my scientific colleagues was:

"What are you doing? No one 's ever done that before. Is that really scientific?"

And of course if they thought about it a little bit, they'd say:

"Actually it's a really important problem, you should study that."

Almost every aspect in personality has a strong genetic basis.

Being gay is just one of those. It just happens to be more controversial than most of the other ones.

All right, well, if it's only a gene that can be destroyed, why can't we just destroy it, and thus be straight?

Because it's not just a gene, it's also what happens in your brain, your pattern of thoughts, of feelings and emotions that develop over your entire life.

So even though that they have started out, has no more than a few genes, a few cells in your brain.

It is now part of who you are.

So changing your orientation would be the same as changing everything about you, which nobody can do and which nobody should be forced to do.

All right, is it OK if I use your comments, and you and your partner's faces in this video?

Yes, that would be fine.

Joe? I do agree with this. Yes.

OK.

I wasn't sure if we'd hear again from the folks who condemned our wedding announcement in the paper.

Hey. How are you?

But when pastor Micklos called to invite us to lunch with his family, I thought I'd see where it would lead.

When you contacted me or I contacted you Or however it occurred, One of the things that I prayed Was that you would see Christ in us.

I just don't see my life through a christian framework.

That's just not how I want to view the world, you know.

But can we, at some point though, Get to a point where we respect that And respect each other?

Well, no.

I mean, I can respect your christian beliefs, But if Some of those beliefs Are aimed at limiting Other people's full participation in society, No, I can't respect that.

I have to struggle against that.

I can respect the Mark Micklos that I know In hopes that he reaches A higher point of enlightenment, And that I would be his friend, You know, through that process.

And that's where we're at.

Yeah.

Bills: What was your first thought When I first came out?

My first reaction was probably...

I was probably shocked.

Why?

Just because -

You think I was putting on a front?

No. I just didn't really think you'd come out.

Laura?

Yes?

Your turn.

You have to ask me a question.

How did you feel when richie first came out?

I was happy for him and stuff.

You know, I was happy for you, too, 'cause you finally came out.

Like, 'cause, you know, if you're gay, You've always been gay, but you finally came out, So I don't know, I was just happy for you.

I could never Deny who I am.

I couldn't deny it.

I was trying to find ways around it, But people kept directing the question, "are you gay?" to my face.

I didn't know what to say, but I couldn't deny who I was, So I ended up having -

I ended up saying that, "you know what, yeah.

So what is it to you? Big deal."

And I guess it was a big deal to everybody.

I know that everybody cared because at that day, Everybody began to hate me.

I was no longer anybody that anyone liked.

Everybody hated C.J. Bills.

Henderson: It's actually rather phenomenal, And sometimes a little scary, that so much has happened In such a short amount of time.

Wilson: Roxanne and Linda had decided To buy and renovate the Latonia, A historic theater That had seen better days.

They wanted to help Revitalize downtown oil city by creating A space for special events.

Hitchcock: I came in for a massage One day, and my massage therapist said, "you know, the original chandelier is here -

You gotta go see it."

She loaned me this tiny, little itty-bitty flashlight, And I snuck up, and the door was unlocked, The room was dark, and I came in, And my little heart just went pitter-patter.

I could not believe something like that was here in oil city.

It just seemed almost criminal to me that it was, You know, just, just sitting.

Hitchcock: The building wasn't even really On the market - we just called up the guy, Said, "how much do you want for it?"

He told us, and we said, "Okay."

Let's sign papers, And we just kind of went from there.

Henderson: Once it's ready, there's got to be a grand opening.

Hitchcock: Yeah, 'cause I don't think that chandelier Has been lit up in probably 50 years. Wilson: Wow.

'92. Burgin and Corsica.

Did you look at a lot of cars, Or is this, you know, just kind of came up?

Yeah, like I got a couple grand to throw around On a nice, fancy-schmancy car.

$150. That was it.

It wasn't even into the 200s.

Still have to get a new exhaust, battery, tires, The title transferred, my license, And then I'll be on the road.

I don't think I'll probably ever be able To, like, walk down through the streets Of anywhere around here.

I used to have, like, a reputation and stuff As a bad-ass and all this stuff, But right now, my life consists Of being around my animals and my garage With my mommy.

What are you thinking about?

What am I thinking about?

When you're sitting here in your car.

Nothing, really.

Eventually, once in a while, wondering If this thing will actually ever leave this garage.


Wilson: After C.J. told me that he was sticking close to home to avoid being hassled, I didn't see him for a while.

His high school's homecoming Was his first time out of the house in months.

Here comes C.J. Over there.

He's walking by - let's go.

What's up, guys?

Hey, what's up, dude? How you doing?

What's going on? So how you been?

Pretty peachy.

Yeah?

Place good?

I like your earrings.

Thank you.

Gotta make sure I look cute When I go out in public.

Where'd the guys go?

They didn't want to be on camera, huh?

I don't know. They drifted somewhere.

Wilson: It was great To see C.J. Out of the house.

But I didn't want to make him nervous around his friends.

I told him I'd catch up with him later.

Bills: When I was leaving the game, There was a whole group of skater kids outside, Like, "are you still gay?"

I went, "I ain't a faggot. What you talking about?"

And they were like, "Oh, okay."

And they just watched me walk away and stuff, And I was like, oh, god - damn.

Wilson: You know, once you kind of come out, I mean, it's hard to, like -

Go back in?

Yeah.

Noticed.

Yeah.

I actually had people talk to me On Friday.

I never - that hasn't happened Since last year.

Wilson: Yeah, we noticed a lot of people Came up and kind of greeted you, gave you a hug.

Mm-hmm.

And that's because they think You're not what they thought you were?

Mm-mm, cover it up.

At least until I get away from here.

Springer: You shouldn't have to live in denial, you know?

But I know there's been times Where he wished he would have just Kept his mouth shut, and nobody would know, and -

Bills: Oh, every time I go into public, I wish I wouldn't ever opened my mouth.

Every single day.

It's hell.

It's not like D.C. Or New York, Where everybody's liberal.

I get threatened to get killed.

That ain't fun.

Hi.

Wilson: I'm here tonight to say that I'm deeply concerned At the charges of harassment, violence, and discrimination That have roiled the Franklin school district For the past year and a half.

Gay students and students of color at the high school Have been the primary targets of these activities.

Their ability to speak for themselves Is greatly hampered by fears Of backlash if they do so publicly.

Death threats have been issued Against students in this school district And it just pains me Thato action has actually been taken.

So thank you for accepting these comments In the public record - I appreciate it, And I look forward to your response.

Woman: Thank you.

Any other visitors at this time?

Wilson: It was obvious that the school board Wasn't concerned about C.J. Or any gay student.

But the problem wasn't just with the school.

Man: It can happen to your town.

Afa presents a look at how A handful of homosexual activists changed the very Moral fiber of the city.

They are taking over...

Wilson: This video is being promoted By a local christian radio station To counter increasingly visible Gay people in oil city.

As christian people.

Announcer: Learn the strategies used By gay activists and don't let this Happen to your city.

Man: If it's not happened In your town, get ready, 'cause it is going to happen.

Announcer: Purchase your copy Or a five-pack to share with others today, And spread the news.

They're coming to your town.

Is that too long?

Henderson: No, that's probably okay.

That's my chainsaw, by the way.

Mine disappeared.

I don't know where mine went.

Wilson: You each have your own chainsaw?

I used to.

Whose is bigger?

Hers would be bigger.

I bet I've cut more wood than she has, though.

Linda and Roxanne were trying to go about their businness.

But when they saw the AFA video accusing people like them of trying to take over the town, Linda came up with a poetic response.

Henderson: Why do you suppose There are empty storefronts?

They're choking our town.

Why do you suppose there's a brain drain?

They're choking our town.

Why do you suppose there is no unique art?

They're choking our town.

It's time for a change.

Stop choking our town.

You like that?

Mm-hmm.

Woman: Hi, guys!

Come on in!

Wilson: Another case of anti-gay discrimination Had taken place several years earlier in Titusville, A town just up the road from oil city.

It involved a student named Tim Dahle.

I thought he and his family might be able To help kathy and C.J. Figure out How to get their school district to take them more seriously.

Bills: The whole thing started From me standing up for one kid.

And no one ever, Ever once said a word to anybody.

They just stood there, my best friends, People that I've known Since I was this big.

They just rolled their eyes.

Man: You call them your friends, You trust them, and then All of a sudden, they turn on you.

I've been there.

What really irritates me is the fact That I used to go out of my way To actually cause bodily harm to gay people.

Okay, we used to use it like a sport, you know?

I mean, it was stupid.

And then when you came out of the closet And told me that you were gay, I thought, "Oh, no, no, no. You can't be."

And I got to thinking, That gay kid's yours.

You going to disown him Because of his sexual orientation?

Or are you going to love him for who he is inside?

And I thought, "the hell with it.

I'm going to love him for who he is inside."

All right, and I tell you what, you try to shed 40 years Of hatred overnight.

It's just not done.

It's something you got to learn how to live with, Deal with, and you got to be sincere.

I mean, he's my kid.

I'm not going to turn my back on him.

I won't - I won't never turn my back on him.

I - I gotta eat. See you guys.

Wilson: All right. Thanks, Ron.

Woman: I can't believe you got him on camera.

Shock of all shocks!

I never thought that would happen.

Wilson: It seemed like kathy Really perked up when diane told her That their lawsuit had forced the school district To implement diversity training That included sexual orientation.

Diane: We were the first people In all these years To stand up to our school system.

And it was because what they were doing was wrong.

Yeah.

Springer: It breaks my heart.

I mean, I could just cry.

And that there are other kids out there Going through similar situations -

None of this should ever happen.

I don't know that I'll change the world, But if I can even just educate a few people, like, Look, they weren't put on this earth to be tortured like this.

We're getting ready for the grand opening.

And all of a sudden, Diane Gramley sent out a letter Warning everyone about how dangerous we are and -

We have this homosexual agenda.

And her brother goes to work with a guy Whose minister stood right in the pulpit And said to boycott the Latonia.

What?

Where is that coming from?

Diane Gramley.

She's started an all-in, all-out Campaign against us.

And she's saying to people, "don't do business with the Latonia"?

Yes. Yes.

Because it's run by a lesbian couple.

Yes - we just wanted to have a business.

If all the city wants is churches, Then what do they need An art deco theater for?

There's something that's going on in our Senate, in House of Representatives, pretty much as we speak right now, it's a hay consville it's pretty much saying that... if I, as a pastor, would share from the pulpit the word of God, about homosexuality, someone in my congregation took that, did something against any individual who is a homosexual, I can be prosecuted as well, for shating the word of God from the pulpit.

This is information that Diane Gramley forwarded in an email as loud as well.

Father God, you allmighty God, you created this world.

We thank you for your love that shows no discrimination and against anybody.

And more you know these debates that are going on, in House and in the Senate, you can supernaturally reach down there and stop those many women from voting yes on this bild today.

And so Father God we just pray that this bill will be defeated somewhere, somehow Lord, and we pray this in Jesus, amen.

We as Cristians, we don't hate the homosexuals.

I could have been a homosexual.

I'm single.

I've had feelings.

You had feelings of attraction to women?

I had feelins, yes, but I knew they were wrong.

Before I ever even read it in the Bible.

You know, the scriptures say... we've got to have some rules to live by...

As the AFA and their followers were trying to use scripture rules and prayer to limit legal protection for gay people The state of Pennsylvania Was considering expanding its anti-discrimination law To include sexual orientation.

Kathy was invited to tell her story About discrimination at C.J.'s school at a public hearing.

I'm not a public speaker.

But - and I don't know what I'd say.

I just, I need to hear how it's going and -

Wilson: I've printed out a copy of the law, So we can look at it. Okay, good, good.

Yeah, that would be good.

Where you see the underline, It's trying to add "sexual orientation, Gender identity, or expression."

You know, I don't understand Where they even get off not including Gay and lesbian.

You know, let's get, you know, Our heads out of our asses here.

Gramley: On June 13th, the homosexual special rights Bill was introduced in Harrisburg.

This is Diane Gramley with the American Family Assocition Of Pennsylvania, with a call to action.

Advocates for the passage of these bills Deny they are special rights bills, But in what other situation is a law specifically written To include a group of people Simply because of the sexual activity in which they engage?

They have never been required to sit in the back of the bus Or drink from designated water fountains.

They've never been considered less than human, As african americans once were.

Homosexual activists are trying To hijack the civil rights movement By pulling the victim card And trying to seek the normalization Of their destructive lifestyle.

Wilson: People like Diane Are using misinformation To stir up irrational fears, to kind of Push people back into the closet.

It's not going to happen.

But when they stir up that fear, That's what creates the problems.

That's what puts people like C.J. At risk.

At risk. Okay.

Because those messages Go out there and says, "oh, those a are The people we're supposed to hate."

You know, can you imagine, I mean, Just seeing somebody at a party and saying, "oh, that's the faggot.

"let's go, you know, punch him, literally Knock him out -"

Can I imagine that? Oh, yeah.

I- I can imagine that.

I mean, I was that type of a person at one time.

Now, that may be shocking to you.

But in my journey in life, I'm no longer like that, And a big part of that Is my christianity, my faith in Christ.

You know, I truly believe that Jesus Christ Has changed my character, so that I don't do that, Nor do I want to do those things anymore.

I mean, those are wrong. It's wrong to do that.

It's wrong to violate...

You know, anybody.

I became a different person.

Do you think there will come a time, though, when we Don't disagree about The place that gay, lesbian, Bisexual, and trans people have in the world?

Maybe aspects of it. I don't know.

I don't know.

You know...

I'd have to...

That would be a big - that would be A big change for me, you know?

Wilson: My interactions with pastor Micklos were odd.

Ever since the wedding announcement, I felt like I had been battling Against people who use religion To deny gay people basic rights of visibility.

Pastor micklos was open to looking at things In a different way.

I'd never thought I'd become friends With someone who didn't view me as his equal.

But his willingness to examine his own beliefs Was helping me to see that not all religious people Fell into the box that I often put them in.

Good afternoon, joe, how are you doing?

Wilson: Hi, diane, how are you?

I wanted to introduce you to kathy springer and C.J.

Oh, okay, good, nice to meet you.

Thank you, it's nice to meet you.

Wilson: C.J. Is the young boy who was in franklin high school And was experiencing harassment and discrimination.

Okay, the one that was on your video?

Wilson: Yeah. What do you think of that?

Well, I need to get in here to the meeting, excuse me.

Woman: Diane Gramley From the american family association Of pennsylvania.

Gramley: Civil rights protections Have long been fought for By disenfranchised groups of people.

African americans led the fight for civil rights, Seeking the right to vote and to no longer Be required to sit at the back of the bus.

But a person's skin color or national origin Is unchangeable.

Wilson: Again, gramley was trying to use race As a wedge to divide.

But this time, she was dealing with legislators Who were experienced in civil rights law.

I was hoping they'd be more open to kathy's testimony.

Springer: I'm sorry, I'm already nervous.

I'm not a public speaker.

At this time I'd like to tell you About my son, C.J. Bills.

At the time, he was 15 years old And attended a public school in venango county.

There was an incident on a school bus one day.

He was on a field trip.

There were teachers monitoring This whole trip.

Kids were throwing things At him, calling him "faggot,"

"queer," "gay," asking if he wanted To perform sex acts on them.

The teachers just turned their head And acted like it never happened.

We've had our house Threatened to be burned down.

We've gotten phone calls by these boys, saying, "We want to see what color a faggot bleeds."

He was vulnerable, he was scared, He didn't want to go to school.

His grades were dropping.

He was suicidal.

I, um, I just have one more thing To say - I hope it never comes to your family, Where one of your children are tortured For being who they are.

Thank you.

Sometimes black people have a problem With people who are different Comparing their experiences With the black experience.

Because of your experience, You're going to be able to help other young people So that maybe tomorrow this doesn't happen.

God bless you for it.

Be who you are, no matter what.

Thank you very much.

Springer: Thank you.

Wilson: Diane and group, we actually wanted To ask you how you respond To the very personal testimonies of C.J. And kathy.

Like I said at the beginning of my testimony, I thought it was awful information.

And the franklin school district should not have done to him What they permitted to do.

So will you join us In fighting discrimination - no -

Against gay and lesbian people in franklin?

Not, we're not going to -

We're not going to join you.

Why not? No.

Because of the roads that that will open.

Wilson: Kathy's testimony may not have influenced gramley, But it did have an impact on the legislators.

After the hearing, One of the staff offered to help kathy and C.J. Contact the aclu To press a legal case against their school district.

Springer: Prior to this, I figured, the aclu -

What the heck?

All they can do is tell me no, you know.

Well, the next thing I know, I got a return phone call.

And we had a great lawyer From the aclu.

Wilson: What do you think about the Latonia?

Boy: I'm glad that roxanne got it, Because there was a guy that wanted to scrap The whole place out piece by piece.

And look at that - that picture Of that chandelier.

It's just, like, scary!

It could fall any second!

And plus, it's great!

Wilson: Just two days before the grand opening, Roxanne and Linda got a call from a neighboring Businessman about their "homosexual agenda"

At the Latonia.

What happened on that phone call you got?

Hitchcock: I said, "if you want to listen to people like diane gramley,"

I said, "you're welcome to, but," I said, "you know what?

"we're trying to do something Wonderful for the community here."

And I said, "I want to know what diane gramley Has done to promote the community."

Yeah.

"Besides her witch hunts."

Yeah! I said, "she's always On a witch hunt about something."

Did you say that?

Yes, I did.

Henderson: The negative messages sting so bad That it takes, probably, 100 positive to keep you on track -

When it's that hateful.

Wilson: After kathy and C.J.'s case About discrimination at the high school Got attention in the community, The local college brought in A gay christian performing arts group from pittsburgh To help people see things from a youth perspective.

Somehow, I managed to get C.J. And pastor micklos to attend.

my soul Woman: I hope that our performance Puts a face to gay christians And puts a face To gay people.

There's a lot of people that don't know things About gay people, and they have the stereotypical Assumptions of gay people.

What you just said about stereotypes, Is that reversed at times, as well?

As far as gay people having Stereotypes about straight people?

Um...

Man: Yeah. I do it.

I stereotype straight people As dressing badly and -

Thanks for coming How did you guys meet?

We wrote a letter to the editor, And they... Captured us.

And we became friends.

Awesome.

But I'm sorry that part of the reason You're not in school is because violence Was perpetrated against you.

Not good under any circumstances.

Bills: How did he come around Like that?

Wilson: I guess that he's been Thinking about it for a little bit.

Wow.

At times, we all get stereotyped, don't we?

Huh?

Sometimes we're not so bad as our first impressions are.

Woman: You know there are people Who don't care what this guy's spreading.

And even if they listen, they have seen you at work, And they have seen everything you've done.

I know, but we got a double whammy against us.

You know that.

I know you do, But you have to not let this Take away from what you've worked so hard for.

Please put on your face and say, "You're not going to do this to us."

And make this just be as wonderful An event as it can be, And is going to be.

What are we going to say?

Latonia!

All: Latonia!

See? That's what we needed.

Man: I told joe that you and roxanne Have been working sometimes 18-hour days getting this done.

I can't imagine, because there's many weeks That I don't work 18 hours.

But it hasn't been us by ourselves.

We've had a lot of people helping, And if you're looking now, there's an army up there, Helping us get the room ready.

For kqw 96.3 at the Latonia, I'm sam gordon.

Gordon: Why are you doing it?

Woman: Because I love rox and Linda So much.

That's the only reason why!

Joy!

I'm probably going to cry.

It's - I - people are coming through To let us know.

oh, oh, oh, and I'm

wrong, yeah

but I'm still the toughest one Littler: Listen to this.

"the Latonia's very bold

"and features one of t biggest Chandeliers in the United States!"

That baby is what I call something!

Wilson: As the grand opening of the Latonia approached, Roxanne and Linda could count on the support Of their close friends.

But it wasn't clear wether the community at large was ready to accept them.

I hate this community, it just kind of rejects people, without even kowing who they are.

I mean, there's nothing personal, ok?

It's just...

how can I say it...

I guess I'm old fashioned.

When I walk in the subway and I see too many gather 2 women together, I stare, you know, but 10 years ago when I was with my wife people stared. Now, I don't get that stare.

So I mean, it changes over time.

People are getting a little more accepting of the battage, not a lot. - Yeah.

I don't know why I've suddenly just, you know, changed my mind.

I don't think it was as sudden as it seemed.

People have to confront those issues, beacause those people are neighbours.

Some of the people around here are so... I don't know how you call it, close mind.

You know, they want their life, they want everybody live the way they want 'em to live, Now I guess I was perfect thinking about that too.

Toa talk to you.

This is small town America.

And this is where we are.

And I think, when people do speak out here, they will be surprised.

By the support that they get, you know, not by the other stuff.

Okay.

Wilson: Clutch all the way to the floor, Left foot. That one?

Yeah, but with your left foot.

And don't let it up.

Or you'll go right through that garage door.

Now keep it down and put it in reverse, Which is way, way, way back.

That way?

Over, yeah.

Oh, this is a whole new experience of the world here.

I'm not used to change.

hey, hey

remember when we used to play

out in your backyard almost every day?

those were good times Wilson: After two years, Kathy and C.J., with the help of the aclu, Finally reached a settlement with the school district That included a promise Of comprehensive anti-discrimination training.

C.J. And I drove over to the high school To meet kathy and the aclu lawyer.

They were observing the training To make sure it included Sexual orientation.

We had to drive my car, because C.J.'s

$150 special had already been scrapped.

And when you stop, clutch in, if you're in gear.

Clutch down, all the way to the floor.

All right.

Clutch, man!

Every time you stop, you gotta use the clutch.

So, how'd everything go?

I wish they would have had This in-service training program two years ago.

Maybe we could have avoided All of these problems.

I thought it was very good.

I was very pleased. I was very pleased.

My hands are going to freeze off.

Let's go to the restaurant.

Okay, dude, let me hear your comments.

What do you think about that? That's awesome.

I want to find out if he has, like, More programs set up, Like, same thing as this, or different ones, or...

Springer: It's taken us two years, But it's a step that I never thought Would happen.

Wilson: And quite a journey For you, I'll say.

Yeah, I'm just a little old back-hills mom.

Yeah.

I - I -

I'll keep being that voice.

Even if my son moves away from this area, Which he'd like very much to do, I'm not going anywhere.

I'm still going to be here, Still going to stand up against the bigots Until they wake up and...

See the world for what it is.

Welcome to the Latonia.

Thank you.

Woman: The spirit of the building Is alive again, you know?

It just is.

I think this is just another piece That's going to come alive and, and add To all the other things that are happening here.

Woman: Oh, I'm excited About the vision and the energy That people have here to bring this alive.

It's exciting.

The chandelier is gorgeous. Yeah.

I can't wait to see it lit up.

Henderson: Thank you all for coming this evening..

This is a fantastic night.

When you start on a large project like this, You need to celebrate Some mile markers.

But what's exciting To me is watching what's happening Throughout oil city.

It means a lot to me to see all these faces, To see all these people who are behind this project.

And it hasn't always been easy.

And, uh, I think I'm going to Have to turn it over to rox right now.

My partner, Roxanne.

Okay, Roxy, are we ready?

Hitchcock: Okay.

All right, one...

Two... Three.

Henderson: We actually had imagined that moment from -

For a long time.

Hitchcock: Just seeing the community's reaction to that Just made it all worthwhile.

That was cool!

Hitchcock: We love this old building.

We're fixing it up.

We want to turn it into something viable And economically reasonable for oil city, But in the same token, we're giving something Back to the city.

It's all about being able to be ourselves Without somebody questioning every Motive we might have.

Yeah, what they call an agenda, We call our lives.

Right! Right!

everything feels like enough Man, on P.A.: We come against The strongholds of sin in this city In the name of jesus, And we tear those strongholds down In the name of jesus.

Father, I thank you that there is An army of believers, Ready to take this city for jesus christ.

I want to see jesus lifted high

a banner that flies across this land

that all men will see the truth and know

he is the way... Wilson: Diane?

Diane?

I just wanted to ask you one more thing, diane.

Wilson: It had taken me a long time to get there, But in that moment, as diane was treating me Like I didn't exist, I finally started to see That battling with her wasn't a useful way To help make change in my small hometown.

Change was starting to happen, not through confrontation, But because of people who decided Not to leave, like I did so many years ago, People who had the courage to start living their lives Just a little more openly.

And because other people in the community Were willing to meet them halfway.

You know, there have been times When I'm, like, "how can they think that?"

You know?

Sure. And, um, you know, I'm in a different place With that now - I mean, I really respect How you see the world And how it's made you into the people That, um, opened us up in the way you have, so...

You know, a lot of times, we're afraid of the unknown.

And you were the unknown quotient.

You could talk about the issues, But the reality is that there are people behind there That we need to be sensitive to And try to look at their perspective And where they're at, and, I mean, The benefit of the whole thing, I think, Is that we, we have a friendship.

You know?

Hopefully, we're growing as human beings, You know, through it all.

Bills: I'll get that.

Do you see my cold air intake?

Are you seeing them fuses?

Wilson: I can't say I'm much Of a car person, but it looks nice.

Bills: $4,388.68.

Oh, yeah, I remember every dime.

Where'd you get that kind of loot?

Off of that there, what do you call it, Aclu thing.

Good, you made it.

Yeah, you know it!

Can we go for a ride?

If you want to.

You take it easy.

It's like it ain't gonna go...

today is fit for rent

I'm feelin' so unique

I'm feelin' really funky

I kind of like this breeze

couldn't speak

or dream

or am I aware

sometimes it's hard to tell

the difference I made that said It rides like a cadillac.

so many lonely days

but today is Bills: I went from being a jock, An athlete, a basketball player, Baseball player.

Then it turned around to, I was a queer, I was a faggot, I was no longer The guy that dislocated your shoulder In football practice - I was just a sissy, Because of what I think looks hot.

And whatever I think looks good Just automatically makes me into a little fairy.

But it doesn't.

Because I'm still me, and I'll always Remain me.

I'm not going to change.

set me free

set me set me free

set me free come on and set me free

I gotta set me free

set me free

set me

set me free

come on and set me free

I've gotta set me free

free, free, free, free


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