‘Out in the Silence’ tour to spur dialogue on sexual inclusion, equality

Posted June 14, 2011, at 1:09 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — “Out in the Silence,” a film by Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson that has won national and international acclaim, will be featured in a tour of Midcoast Maine in an effort to engage communities in new conversations about inclusion, fairness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the state and across the country.

The tour is being coordinated by Out! As I Want to Be, a local nonprofit serving LGBT and questioning youth ages 14 to 22 and their allies in midcoast Maine, as well as local residents and groups in each host community.

The film schedule is:

• 5:30 p.m.  Wednesday, June 15, Farnsworth Museum, Rockland.

• 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 16, Camden Public Library, Camden.

• 6 p.m. Saturday, June 18, Belfast Free Library, Belfast.

• 7 p.m. Monday, June 20, Waldo Theater, Waldoboro.

The film shows Wilson being drawn back to his hometown to share the story of a teenager tormented at school because he is gay, and the struggle the teen’s mother goes through to get school authorities to do something about it. As a film character himself, Wilson also strikes up an unexpected friendship with a conservative evangelical pastor and his wife, who all reach new levels of understanding, and shares the story of a local lesbian couple who can catalyze the town’s economic revitalization if they find community acceptance. At once wrenching, entertaining and inspiring, the film ultimately shows the individual and community transformations that are possible when people, on all sides of challenging issues, speak out and take the time to get to know one another.

Produced in association with Sundance Institute and Penn State Public Broadcasting, the film premiered at the 2010 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York, has been broadcast on PBS and won an Emmy Award for Achievement in Documentary. But Wilson and Hamer are most interested in using it as part of a campaign to help raise LGBT visibility and promote dialogue and civic engagement, particularly in small towns and rural communities.

Out! As I Want to Be, the film tour’s primary sponsor, is located at the Lincoln Street Center for the Arts in Rockland. The group trains volunteer advisers, offers after-school programs on Wednesdays and Fridays and chaperones trips to special events around the state. Out! hopes to provide a springboard for local residents, students, educators, clergy, civic leaders, elected officials and community organizations to begin working together more intentionally to support youth.

Co-sponsors of the screening in Rockland are  Adas Yoshuron, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockland and Youthlinks-Broadreach.

The Camden screening is co-sponsored by The Community School, the CHRHS Gay Straight Alliance and The Rig. In Belfast the film is co-sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Belfast. In Waldoboro, co-sponsors include Broad Bay Church and the Lincoln County Coalition for Marriage Equality.

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