About this project
UPDATE: ARCHBISHOP TUTU ENDORSES OUR FILM!
Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Forum statement
Message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu:
"From Selma to Stonewall" raises critical issues and highlights the pivotal role that religion should play in ensuring equal rights and justice for all.
Thank you, Archbishop, peacemaker to the world!
UPDATE: Broadway performer, singer/songwriter Todd Hunter to join Eden on singing the film's theme song, original music by Eden.
UPDATE: Jazz Vocalist, Intersex Rights Advocate Eden Atwood joins film to bring soundtrack tunes!
Eden is not only a superb jazz vocalist, she also has a soul that crosses all boundaries, no matter what they are. Gil often talks about the improvisational nature of justice work, so Eden’s music is perfect as the soundtrack to our film. (Pledge $10 or more and receive an mp3 download of one of Eden's songs, $50 or more, receive the whole soundtrack.)
Here is an interview with Eden about being born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, a trait occurring in approximately one in 20,000 people. Her story is one of discovery, understanding, and advocacy!
WE SEEK FUNDING for post-production, editing, original score, color, sound, and motion graphics to complete our 30-minute documentary film, which is almost entirely shot. We also plan a few additional interviews in Los Angeles. Funds will be used to match grant funds we received from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and other family foundations.
ABOUT THE FILM: The LGBTQ rights movement is often called the new civil rights movement of today. But is that entirely true? Are they similar or fundamentally different? Are the two movements headed toward the same destination? Why aren’t we there yet? And why are they fighting in the car along the way?
We are two unlikely friends—Gil, an 80-year-old black, straight retired preacher and civil rights leader, and Marilyn, a 52-year-old white lesbian activist and author—and we wanted to find out just what lies at the conflict and the crossroads of these two important American movements.
FROM SELMA TO STONEWALL is a 30-minute film documenting a part of our journey. We visited sites significant to both movements, taking viewers to places that have become hotspots for both movements. We interviewed people, hosted conversations, argued with each other, and collected oral histories in our quest into the heart of racism, heterosexism, and the complex role religion has played in both.
We met in 2000 while protesting the anti-gay policies of the United Methodist Church, for which we were arrested. Via planes, trains and automobiles we helped, challenged, and argued with each other through fourteen years of complicated friendship.
Over the years, we’ve learned to talk frankly with each other across our differences in generations, race, gender, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation. For this film we packed up our complex identities and took several trips together to explore the people and places important to both the Civil Rights and the LGBTQ Equality movements. We asked a lot of questions. What do these two movements mean to Americans today? How do they shape our society and personal relationships?
And personal questions as well: What did it mean to Gil that his last name was that of the plantation titleholders who owned his grandfather? What did it mean for Marilyn to have ancestors who supported the Confederacy? What was it like for him growing up in the safety of the black community and church in the time of Jim Crow laws? What was it like for her to grow up in a country and church that held her sexual orientation in contempt, where living genuinely left her open to felony charges?
And could we talk directly to each other about these different realities?
In a way we were chasing the truth at the heart of both American experiences. But we found that truth is not a destination, it is a journey that always draws us onward. So we called our project “Truth in Progress.” (See www.truthinprogress.com.)
We went to Selma, Alabama in 2010 where Gil marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. and thousands of others in 1965. It was his first time returning to Selma, and it was an emotional homecoming for all of us. The next day we participated in Birmingham’s Gay Pride Parade and Festival, experiencing LGBTQ life in the South. Then in 2012 we went to the Village in New York City to the Stonewall Inn, a bar where the 1969 Stonewall Riots took place and is thought to be the starting point for the gay rights movement. We also filmed in New Jersey and all over New York City, including at one of Gil’s former churches in Harlem.
At each hotspot, we talked with people about the intersection of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion and asked where we might find common ground between the two movements. We’ve gathered stories of civil rights and Stonewall veterans, activists of all stripes, people on the street, religious leaders, and scholars.
Religion is a big factor in the fight for equal rights and we tackle it whole-heartedly. The Bible has been used to reinforce slavery, oppress women, and fuel violence against LGBTQ persons. However the Black Church was a central pillar of the Civil Rights Movement and there are more and more churches fighting for LGBT equality.
A lot has changed since we first started our journey: the election of our first African American president, the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and major strides forward for Marriage Equality but we’ve also seen voting rights diminished, a racist backlash to Obama’s presidency, too many hate crimes, women’s rights greatly challenged, states considering laws that would allow businesses to refuse service LGBQT people, and still no overall federal protections for LGBTQ non-discrimination in the workplace. This jumble is our country at its best and worst. Gil and I continue our journey to find common ground between diverse groups of people, one honest conversation at a time.
WE HAVE AN EXCEPTIONAL PRODUCTION TEAM...
Los Angeles-based documentary filmmaker Tonya Easbey is our Director of Photography and Film Editor. Other team members are accomplished documentary filmmakers: in Chicago, Ky Dickens (FISH OUT OF WATER and SOLE SURVIVOR); Dallas, lesbian activist C.d. Kirven; and Philadelphia, Phil Katz. Contributing from Browning, Montana, the fifth member of the team is Steven Barrios, the Two Spirit activist storyteller Long Time Holy Rain.
AND A GREAT INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY PANEL!
Please join us in making FROM SELMA TO STONEWALL and share our story and Kickstarter campaign with all your friends!
Risks and challenges
This is a surprisingly contentious issue, as difficult to talk about as it is crucial. Many Americans believe the black civil rights movement is over and done. Some believe the LGBTQ Equality struggle is moving too quickly; some say it shouldn’t be happening at all. We often hear that people outside of these struggles don’t think they affect them. Yet these two movements are shaping American life in multiple ways, both subtle and dramatic. Debates continue about which freedoms all Americans have.
The film is risky because these issues are so emotionally distressing to some, and perhaps an equal number are resistant to having the conversation at all. But Gil’s an old minister, and Marilyn is a storyteller. They approach every sensitive moment with respect, humor, vulnerability, and genuine curiosity. Their personal stories are also the stories of a nation wrestling with some of the stickiest issues of its time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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