In one of the longest and most emotional meetings in the St. Louis County Council’s history, an ordinance was narrowly passed Tuesday night that adds gender identity and sexual orientation to the county’s anti-discrimination regulations and hate crimes law.
An overflow crowd of more than 250 people spilled out of the council chambers in Clayton; 92 of them signed up to address the council, and most took advantage of that opportunity in a public comments segment that lasted more than two hours.
And as could be expected on an issue that involved religion and civil rights, most of them spoke fervently.
The ordinance adds protections for people in employment, housing and public accommodations in unincorporated areas, regardless of their sexual orientation. It also expands protections on the basis of gender and disability.
Montana Actors’ Theatre will present The Laramie Project in Havre, MT on October 21-22, 27-29, and November 3-5.
The Laramie Project play originated from a series of interviews conducted by members of the Tectonic Theatre Project following the tragedy of Matthew Shepard which transpired on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. The creators of the play aimed to shed some light on specific faults in society regarding homophobia and hate crimes. If you’re curious about this play, come watch The Laramie Project on one of the previously mentioned dates. Please be aware: the play does contain adult themes and may not be suitable for children or young teens.
The play will be performed in the MSU-Northern/MAT Theatre. It will begin at 8 PM nightly. The doors and backstage lounge will open at 7:30 PM. Adults can view the show for $15. Students and seniors will be admitted for $10 while MSU-Northern students will be admitted free of charge with current student I.D.
Two Spirits, a film by Lydia Nibley, is coming to PBS this Sunday, June 12th at 10:30 pm through the program Independent Lens– and I want to encourage you to watch it.
It is an amazing film which “interweaves the tragic story of a mother’s loss of her son with a revealing look at a time when the world wasn’t simply divided into male and female- and many Native American cultures held places of honor for people of integrated genders.”
I’ve talked about this remarkable film before. My friend and collaborator Gregory Hinton gave an excellent introduction to the film when it was screened at the Autry as part of our Out West series last summer. Part of his memorable remarks were these:
The city and the country have a lot to catch up on. We have much to teach each other. To protect our rural kids, and our rural elders, our community must be visible, like a porch light streaming into the western night sky.
And now, to Lydia and Russell, the filmmakers of Two Spirits, thank you for your advocacy by flipping on the switch.
Two Spirits is the story of Fred Martinez, a Navajo boy who was also a girl. It is also the story of Pauline Mitchell, the mother who loved him, who prayed every night for his safe return.
It speaks to the prescience of the Navajo culture. Imagine a time where Two Spirit children were adored, their talents cultivated, their spirits revered.
The World Premiere of Two Spirits was sponsored by the Matthew Shepard Foundation in Denver. I recently told Judy Shepard that in addition to experiencing bias as a gay man, I have also experienced bias as a rural westerner. I asked her if Matt loved Wyoming. Judy told me he stayed in Laramie because it was home and he loved the out of doors.
The love of mothers and courage of sons astonishes.
Stay home if you want. Be who you are. This is the mission of Out West.