Today was an incredible day. On my way from Yellowstone National Park to Idaho Falls, I stopped to grab some WIFI and find some folks to interview. I found a news article about a rally against Prop 8 that took place in Idaho Falls. The minister at the local Unitarian Universalist church was quoted in the story. I googled her name and called the church. Reverend Lyn Cameron answered the phone and answered the call. She was able to round-up some amazing folks to interview on just a two hour notice.
We met at the church and then went over to Dino and Steve’s house to conduct the interviews. They are both wonderful straight allies. Dino has pledged to answer every anti-gay letter-to-the-editor that is printed in the local paper. She is unstoppable. She dissects the opposition’s arguments and pleads the case for equality in simple to understand terms.
First up in our series of interviews was Cherie Stevens. She is a fabulous PFLAG mom and has been part of the organization for 13 years! She was at the protest against Prop 8, standing up for her son’s rights. Her gay son lives in California. Check out the video clip of the interview with Cherie. This woman rocks!
Next up, Sam took the hot seat. (I’m withholding Sam’s last name because…well, watch the video and you’ll find out.) I have been starring at my computer screen for a while now, trying to figure out how to put the impact this interview had on me into words. It is not possible. You need to watch this interview. Sam is one of the most incredible, amazing, inspiring, fabulous people I have ever met. His story is one that needs to be told.
Sam “came out” to his parents when he was 10 years old by asking his father why he was attracted to another boy. His parents are Southern Baptist missionaries. His father’s response landed Sam in the emergency room. For the next few years Sam underwent aversion therapy to “cure” him of his homosexuality. First he was told over and over again that he was evil, the only gay person left on earth, and that he had AIDS. Then he was forced to hold ice while being shown pictures of men hugging. Then came the electrocution. He was shown pictures of men and women. When the men appeared, he was electro-shocked. Sam screamed in pain as his mother listened from the next room. He was 12 years old.
I should also mention that Sam is a bit of a genius. He is a nuclear engineer and has testified in front of Congress on the positive aspects of nuclear energy. He is also an incredible opera singer. Check out the clip below. (Sam also sings for us!)
After the riveting interview with Sam, we all sat down to dinner. Steve made a great meal with fresh vegetables from the garden. After dinner, we conducted an interview with Dino Lowrey. She talked about her support for LGBT equality and her work with Breaking Boundaries, a local group that provides services to the underserved population of Southeast Idaho. This year, for the first time, Breaking Boundaries and the local PFLAG chapter had a float in the local 4th of July parade. Not only that, but they won 1st prize! Check out the clip of the interview with Dino below. She is a powerhouse of an activist.
Idaho may be a conservative state, but with the folks I met tonight, bigotry and homophobia don’t stand a chance in the Gem state.
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(This video was taken with the ‘behind-the-scenes’ blog camera and is not the actual footage for the documentary.)