Out in the Silence is more than a movie; it's part of the growing movement for justice and equality in rural and small town America. Based on the story of a brutal gay bashing of a 16-year-old boy in the filmmaker's small Pennsylvania hometown, the OITS community engagement campaign has emerged as a compelling, proactive model for grassroots activism and civic participation, helping to build bridges rather than walls on issues that have divided our communities for far too long.
When a popular 16-year-old jock is brutally attacked for coming out at his small town high school, his mother reaches out for help to the only person she feels she can trust, an openly gay man living 300 miles away %u2013 native son and filmmaker Joe Wilson, whose same-sex wedding announcement ignited a firestorm of controversy in the local paper. Returning home with camera in-hand, Wilson documents the harrowing but ultimately successful battle waged by the teen and his mom against recalcitrant school authorities, his unexpected and transformative friendship with a conservative Evangelical preacher, and the efforts of a lesbian couple to restore an historic theater in the economically challenged town. As walls are torn down and bridges built, OUT IN THE SILENCE offers a fascinating, moving and hopeful new take on America's ever-evolving culture war.
Similar to the seemingly innocuous act of publishing a wedding announcement in a small town newspaper, the OUT IN THE SILENCE Campaign for Fairness and Equality in Rural and Small Town America is based on the idea that small acts of LGBT visibility in places where they are rare and unexpected help to raise awareness and open-up dialogue in profound new ways and create ripple effects and opportunities for change that go far and wide.
As a result of its presentation at the Good Pitch @ Silverdocs in 2009, OUT IN THE SILENCE received support for an intensive one-year pilot campaign across all 67 counties of Pennsylvania. Tangible impacts of this effort include the formation of new high school gay/straight alliances, defeat of an anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment in the state senate, support for inclusive non-discrimination ordinances in several municipalities, and most importantly, increased awareness of Pennsylvania's large but mostly invisible rural LGBT population through statewide PBS broadcast and more than 80 town hall events, most often in public libraries.
The Campaign is now seeking partnerships and resources that will help expand our field-tested and highly successful campaign to raise national awareness about LGBT people in small towns and rural communities and support the struggle for inclusion, fairness and equality emerging in these overlooked corners of America. We believe our film and campaign can help trengthen and expand local grassroots efforts for change on these issues and break open a new national conversation on the role and responsibility that we, the public, have in fulfilling the constitutional promise of liberty and justice for all.