Due to the recent death of Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University who killed himself when a sex tape was released which revealed his homosexuality, I happened to stumble upon a documentary called Out in the Silence.
Directed by Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer, this 2009 film surrounds the real-life story of Wilson, whose announcement in the paper of his marriage to another man sparked much controversy in the small town of Oil City.
Due to the responses he received, along with a mother’s plea for help regarding the abuse of her own son due to his sexuality, Wilson decided to make a film regarding his hometown’s attitude towards gay marriage and overall homosexuality.
While the subject matter in this film isn’t anything that hasn’t been heard before, it does portray a realistic view of how hypocritical and closed-minded people still are.
The only people in the town who agreed to be interviewed for the documentary were a pastor and his wife, who were some of the people that responded to Wilson’s ad negatively. “If we grant two men the right to get married, what’s wrong with incest or polygamy? I think at times we’ve seen that happen…” This quote from the pastor is a perfect example of how absurd some people’s views are. Even if homosexuality isn’t approved by any church in America, it is a far cry from marriages which allow multiple partners (and these marriages probably happen with or without the church anyway.) Although Wilson obviously shared this sentiment, eventually he did respect the pastor for at least coming forward and being honest about his opinions, even if Wilson himself disagreed with them.
In addition, Diane Gramley, leader of the AFA (American Family Association,) refused to speak to Wilson on camera about her views, although she hosts her own radio show and speaks out frequently to the public against same-sex marriage, stating that gay people encourage children to live a “dangerous lifestyle.”
The film also portrays how not enough is being done in schools regarding verbal and physical abuse towards homosexuals and virtually anyone who’s different. Wilson himself sees that the Oil City school system hasn’t changed much in regards to teachers standing by and watching this abuse occur. Even in the workplace, same-sex relationships are stereotyped and frowned upon, as portrayed by the two lesbian women who receive threatening phone calls when trying to re-open a theater for the community.
While shows like Sex & the City and Will & Grace portray homosexuality as a “fabulous” thing, what about the kids from small towns who don’t have a voice, who aren’t old enough yet to realize that there are people on Earth who are accepting? And what about those who grow older, and for whatever reason, can’t afford to get out of their current situation, forcing them to keep their true identity hidden? Should they have to suffer in silence?
This documentary addresses these issues and more, while proving that despite society’s advances in the gay community, the “bible-belt mindset” still exists in many suburbs in America.
You can view this documentary online for free at Hulu.com.