'Out in the Silence' documentary examines gay rights and issues

The announcement of filmmaker Joe Wilson’s wedding to another man ignited a firestorm of controversy several years ago in the small Pennsylvania town of Oil City -- a place he left behind long ago. Drawn back by a plea for help from the mother of a gay teen being tormented at school, Wilson takes viewers on an exhilarating journey through love, hate, and understanding in rural America. Filmmakers will be in the WPSU studios as the station premieres the work.

"Out in the Silence" debuts on WPSU-TV on Friday, Sept. 11 at 9 p.m. as part of the station's fall pledge drive. Portions of the documentary as well as other outreach materials are available online at http://wpsu.org/outinthesilence.

"Out in the Silence" takes viewers on a personal journey through conservative small town America as the filmmaker becomes immersed in the battle over gay visibility and equality that unfolds in his hometown in Venango County, Pa. over a three year period. With camera in hand, Wilson engages with traditional-values activists, conservative politicians, school authorities and everyday local folks. He follows the trials and tribulations of a grassroots effort to promote diversity and tolerance in the area and forms an unlikely and transformative friendship with a fundamentalist preacher.

"As a filmmaker, I use the camera to empower, to challenge, to confront and to look beneath the veneer of the fragile balance of order in my small hometown," said Wilson. "It is a deeply personal social issue documentary that dramatically illustrates the challenges of being different in small towns and rural communities and the transformation that is possible when those who have long been constrained by a traditional code of silence summon the courage to break it."

Penn State Public Broadcasting is the distributor of "Out in the Silence." WPSU has also created an interactive Web site for the documentary. Major funding for program was provided the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and the Pennsylvania Public Television Network.

WPSU serves central Pennsylvania with programming, educational services and community outreach. Its public media services produce, acquire and distribute programs that address local interests and reflect the diverse cultural, political, geographic and demographic characteristics of an audience within central Pennsylvania.

Last Updated August 31, 2009