WILL reporter helps older member of LGBT community share his story: “We’ve Been Here All Along!”

January 10, 2011

Editor’s Note: We are pleased that a few public media stations like WILL have taken advantage of the Lab’s Open Call to draw out stories from members of their local LGBT communities. We give a special shout-out to Sean Powers, WILL reporter, for donating his time to a listener he encountered who needed assistance getting his story into the new media world that so many of us have learned to work in effortlessly. We know that Sean not only helped shoot Mr. Davis’ video, but showed him how to register for a Youtube account and submit his video. Our hat’s off to you, Sean!

Gale Davis (Photo by Sean Powers)

A few months ago, I met Gale Davis, 70, of Urbana, IL. He’s a member of Illinois Public Media, and a longtime viewer and listener of our station. Davis said he knew he was gay when he was four years old.

“I had no interest in girls at all, but you had to keep that under the whatever,” he said.

Davis said 1969 was an important year for him. Right after the Stonewall riots in June, gay groups started forming across Illinois. It was around this time when Davis came out. A couple of years later, Davis spoke to the Mattachine Society in Chicago, one of the earliest gay rights organizations. He then began traveling across the country visiting gay churches, and meeting with gay rights activists. While Davis admits gays are represented more today than they were in 1969, he said many of the struggles facing the LGBT community back then are still relevant.

“Things have changed a lot, although not quite enough,” he said, reflecting on his memories about being thrown out of the air force because of his sexuality.  “I was perfectly happy to donate my time and energy and even blood to protect the country, and they didn’t want me because I was born gay.”

David said people today are more comfortable coming out about their sexuality, but he added that there needs to be more of an effort to share the gay experience with the rest of the world.

I told Davis about the Stonewall Uprising Open Call, and how the public would really benefit by hearing his perspective about what it is like being gay in America and what has changed over the past 40 years. He was eager to contribute, but did not have the means of uploading his own user-generated content. This seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up. I set up a time to interview Davis at his home. We spoke in front of a wall coated with his ‘sermons’ describing the long-standing history of same-sex couples.

I hope Davis’ story will encourage other gay people to come forward, share their stories about gay rights since Stonewall and help guide the conversation of 21st century issues in the LGBT community.

-Sean Powers

Cross-posted with Illinois Public Media. See Davis’s video on their Vimeo channel.


RSVP’s Coming In for Stonewall Uprising Open Call

December 23, 2010

Yes, the holiday season is upon us, and for many aspiring video and film makers that means a break from the day job to get out the cameras and get serious about storytelling. Perfect timing! The Lab’s new open call is in full swing. We want your stories about the gay rights movement as you see it happening right now in your community.

RSVPs have just started to come in, as you can see from the map below (click to visit the live version). What’s your story idea?  Be sure to let us know.

If you haven’t already visited the Stonewall Uprising Open Call home page, please do! There is a trailer there of the film, which airs on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE this April, and there are plenty of tips and advice, a page about our incredible contest judges and more.

Need some inspiration to tell a story about gay rights? Follow the lab on Twitter (WGBHLab) and check out our daily news feed: WGBH Lab Gay Rights Watch.

Check out the Lab’s guest blog on American Experience

December 16, 2010

Help Tell the Ongoing Story of the Gay Rights Movement

Since 2003 it has been the Lab’s mission to bring new voices into public media. They have worked with all kinds of filmmakers and media makers of every age to create compelling stories that can go on to station broadcast and even win awards. Our hope is that crowdsourcing this open call draws in more talented media makers who feel impassioned by the story we are telling, and that the prizes offered by AMERICAN EXPERIENCE inspire every hopeful entrant to give us their best work.

Open Call: Stonewall Uprising and Gay Rights in 2011

December 3, 2010

We have a great new opportunity for all aspiring filmmakers, video journalists and new media makers. In partnership with the PBS show American Experience, which is airing the film Stonewall Uprising next spring, we are asking you for videos that tell us the story about the gay rights movement happening today in your community. Help us share new views of this important civil rights story by contributing your own.

Your video could be one of five to win a $1000 prize and maybe even a chance to air on PBS after the film. Video submissions will become part of a contest and guest judges, including prominent gay rights advocates Cyndi Lauper and Dan Savage, will help decide who wins.  The deadline for submissions is February 14, 2011. Find out more about the application process and what makes a winning video on the open call home page.

We can’t wait to see your story about the efforts happening today for gay civil rights.

Denise, Chris, Annie, Elias and Andrea

The WGBH Lab Team