Last night Sarah & I attending a screening and discussion of the 2009 docudrama Out in the Silence hosted by the Spencer Presbyterian Church and sponsored by Spencer PRIDE and White River Valley PFLAG.
The discussion and the film naturally included many people with strong opinions in all directions. Moderated by IU's Mary Gray, the discussion was pleasantly steered toward personal opinions and away from perceived facts.
Many of the attendants were clearly much more interested in the talking part of the discussion than in the listening part, but a few people appeared to be moved to reevaluate some ideas.
Without giving away too much of the film, the basic plot is a growing acceptance of openly gay people in Oil City, Pennsylvania. Two of the characters stood out to me: a minister in Oil City and a father in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Virtually every character in the film (and if I had to guess also in the audience) had a stance at the beginning of the film. Throughout the film, most characters dug in their respective feet pushed from their respective stances. Some used violence, others used mass media, others used lawsuits, and others used public forums. By the end of the film, the audience is given the impression that Oil City has changed – not much – but that Oil City has a different perspective about openly gay people than it did at the beginning of the film.
The two characters that stood out to me seemed, to me, like a microcosm of the city. These two characters started with strong opinions, but somehow they managed to listen and take in other opinions. Neither character ended opposing his original stance, but both characters were standing in a different place at the end of the film than they were at the beginning. The narrator also showed some similar growth, though, to me, his growth seemed to be quantitatively less than that of the other two thoughtful characters.
As the discussion went on, I thought about how judgmental I can be, and I tried my hardest to listen especially to those with whom I disagree. I am trying to grow, which I think is a symptom of growth.