On Tour: Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson visit Norfolk, VA

10 Nov
November 9, 2011

On Wednesday morning, we loaded up the car and hit the road for the On Screen/In Person tour, a ten day, 1,800 mile journey through the Mid Atlantic states with “Out In The Silence,” our film about the quest for visibility, fairness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in rural and small town America.

The first stop was Norfolk, VA, a military outpost and conservative bastion across the Potomac River, four hours south, and a world away from our home in Washington, DC, one of the most progressive jurisdictions in the country when it comes to equal rights and protections for LGBT people.

In Washington, our marriage – which is the “inciting incident” for our film – in now legally recognized. In Virginia, it’s not, and in fact a person can be fired from their job or denied accommodation simply for being LGBT.

But, just as several characters in the film come to see that long-held beliefs and stereotypes about other people do not always hold true, we quickly found the city of Norfolk and the Hampton Roads region of southern Virginia to be a much more warm and welcoming spot for a screening than we ever anticipated.

The host venue, the beautiful Chrysler Museum of Art, had reached out to a number of community organizations to help sponsor the event. So, as visitors were entering the building for the film event, and other museum programs, they were greeted by, and many stopped to talk with, representatives from Access AIDS Care, the LGBT Community Center of Hampton Roads, and Old Dominion University’s Gay-Straight Alliance.

These organizational leaders also joined us for the post-screening conversation with the audience, which focused some on the filmmaking process, but much more on issues raised in the film and ways to work with allies in the community to overcome the pain and divisiveness caused by religion-based bigotry and discrimination toward LGBT people.

And as it turns out, this topic is the perfect prep for the next stop on our tour: Lynchburg, VA, home of the notoriously anti-gay ministry of Jerry “Moral Majority” Falwell and his Liberty University. As has happened many times during our screenings of “Out in the Silence” in small towns and rural communities across the United States, when we told people about our next stop, the reaction was “Yikes! That place is much worse than here.”

We soon shall see….

Post by Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, OSIP Touring Filmmakers
It’s more than a movie, it’s part of the movement for fairness and equality

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