Gay-Straight Alliance to host Movie Night

By Ethan Walshe
Managing Editor

This Friday October 14th, Westford Academy’s Gay-Straight Alliance will be hosting a movie night in WA’s Performing Arts Center. The group will be showing the award winning Sundance documentary Out in the Silence which addresses the response of a small town to the announcement of a gay couple’s engagement.

This event is being held in conjunction with National Coming Out Day, a day in which civil awareness for coming out and discussion among LGTBQ persons and supporters is paramount, which falls on Tuesday, October 11th and LGBT History Month which spans for the month of October.

“We wanted to do something that would raise some awareness in the community,” said WA English teacher and GSA advisor Meghan Oelerich.

The decision to host this movie night was also prompted by the recent repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Members of the GSA viewed the coming out video of United States Army member Steven Phillips that was live streamed over YouTube. This led to discussions in the Alliance about spreading tolerance and awareness and this film came up.

“[The students] thought it would be a good way to increase the awareness of the community about GLBT issues and the need for safety and support,” said GSA Advisor Susan Beers.

The movie itself follows the events of a small town in Pennsylvania following the announcement of a homosexual couple’s engagement. The society becomes divided after the announcement between those who support the homosexual community and those who are either uncomfortable with or against their lifestyle based on their personal values, some of whom even venture into hostile territory.

The fact that this film takes place in a small town is also important. Westford is a small enough town where the societal divisions seen in Out in the Silence could easily be applied to our own community.

After the showing of the film on Friday, members of WA’s GSA will be speaking about their own personal experiences and hosting a group discussion session. The goal of this portion of the evening will be to bring their own stories to light and for those in attendance to be moved towards deeper understanding.

The goal of the discussion “is to reach out to parents and students who might be afraid to start the conversation. Some stories are positive and some are negative…we’re just hoping to help people know it’s not the end of the world,” said Oelerich.

Organizers are hoping that Friday evening’s events will move our community towards greater understanding and help to further create an atmosphere of tolerance for any and all people who may be dealing with situations similar to those seen in Out in the Silence.

“We hope that both students and parents and community members will come with an open mind to listen and learn and talk to one another,” said Beers.

For more on Out in the Silence visit www.outinthesilence.com