Documentary on being gay in small-town America shows Nov. 5

A documentary about the complexities of being gay in small-town America is being screened at Oregon State University. Filmmakers Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer will be present after the screening to answer questions and engage dialogue about fairness, equality and inclusion.

The screening of “Out in the Silence,” is scheduled for 5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 5, in the Memorial Union Journey Room on the OSU campus. Hamer will discuss the current state of research into the biological origins of sexuality during a lecture at Oregon State on Nov. 5, from 1:30 to 3 p.m., in Bexel Hall room 103.

Hamer is an internationally recognized geneticist famous for two ground-breaking books. The first, “The Science of Desire: The Search for the Gay Gene and the Biology of Behavior,” postulated the idea of a “gay gene” back in the 1990s, and in 2004 he explored the idea of a “god gene” in “The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes.”

Wilson will be lecturing on Friday, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., at Linn Benton Community College in the Diversity Achievement Center Room F220.

Wilson, a native of Oil City, Penn., left his hometown for more tolerant pastures. But after his same-sex marriage was announced in his hometown paper, it attracted so much attention that Wilson chose to return home to document the many voices raised on all sides of the issue.

Exploring topics ranging from religion, safe schools, anti-gay bullying, and economic development, to discrimination, tolerance and understanding, “Out in the Silence” offers a model for civic engagement and dialogue to begin the process of building bridges on issues that have divided communities.

The film follows the stories of a mother who takes a stand for her gay teenage son, an evangelical pastor and his wife who befriend Wilson and begin to rethink their most deeply held beliefs, and local residents who must decide what their small town values really mean.

Wilson and Hamer are working with grassroots groups, colleges, universities and a variety of civil and human rights organizations to take the film to small towns and rural communities.

“What better places to promote dialogue and mutual understanding,” said Wilson, “than in public libraries, churches, schools, colleges and universities, community centers and local theaters, those great institutions where families, friends and neighbors in small towns and rural communities come together to talk about and develop solutions to the most challenging issues of the day?”

The screening is organized by the recently formed OSU Chapter of the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP). The event is the inaugural speaker event for this new student program aimed at recruiting LGBT students into science and engineering programs at the OSU. Hamer and Wilson also will give lectures for students at OSU.

The film was produced in association with Penn State Public Broadcasting and the Sundance Institute and is an official selection of the 2010 Human Rights Watch International Film Festival.

To see a trailer for the film go to:

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