Threats Against LGBT People Persist in Rural America... [and everywhere else]

One of the most moving moments in Out in the Silence occurs when C.J., the gay teen who has been tormented for over a year at his small town high school, says: "This place isn't like New York or DC where everybody's liberal. I get threats to be killed."

In August, the OITS Campaign was starkly reminded of just how real the threat of anti-LGBT violence is, especially in small towns and rural communities where even a small minority of intolerant individuals can poison the atmosphere of the entire community.

The ugliness took place in Coudersport, a small town nestled in the ruggedly-beautiful hills of north central Pennsylvania. Despite a series of harmonious and successful events in neighboring towns, the OITS Campaign was met in Coudersport by a barrage of Tea Party and fundamentalist activists who tried to shut the screening down and called for defunding the public library simply for being the site of an openly-LGBT event.

Fortunately, the library board was not to be intimidated, and the resulting publicity helped to create an extraordinarily well-attended, diverse and productive town-hall event that received national media attention: Potter County Library Faced Protests Over Gay Documentary (Harrisburg Patriot-News)

But opponents of equality were not deterred. They quickly scheduled their own event in the same library and invited as special guest film character Diane Gramley, president of the American Family Association of PA and the activist most responsible for stirring anti-LGBT sentiment across the state.

The event, titled "A Bible Believing Christian Response to Out In The Silence," was a remarkable display of hatred and intolerance, capped off by these comments targeting transgender individuals from local convener Robert Wagner:

"I'm gonna put a ball bat in my car, and if I ever see a guy [sic] coming out of a bathroom that my granddaughter's in, I'm gonna use the ball bat on him [sic] ... In the good old days, before she-males existed, they just called such people perverts."

You can see a video excerpt and read our account of the shocking event HERE.
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