Former student shows film to raise awareness

A TCU alumnus and filmmaker returned to TCU Monday to promote his documentary about lesbian grandmothers, in time for the proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil union on the Texas state ballot Nov. 8.Keith Wilson, a 1997 graduate, came back to present his documentary, “Lesbian Grandmothers From Mars,” a film chronicling two lesbian grandmothers from Mars, Pa., who bicycle across the United States in support of same-sex marriage and civil union.

Even though the general sentiments in Texas are against gay marriage, Wilson, who is gay, said he felt it was necessary to do something.

After the presentation in the Sid Richardson Building by women’s studies and the sociology, criminal justice and anthropology departments, the documentary was followed by a discussion with Wilson, who started his own production company, Walleye Productions.

Casey Hines, a freshman theatre arts major, said the documentary portrayed the injustice against gays in America.

“I thought is was really effective in showing how people can build a life and a family, and their country doesn’t recognize it,” she said. “It’s not fair.”

Jean Giles-Sims, a TCU sociology professor, said she brought Wilson to campus because he is an alumnus and his documentary is pertinent to the upcoming ballot.

The screening was intended to open up discussion on the amendment and further foster the idea of liberal arts education, she said.

“We’re not showing this to convince students this is right,” she said. “We’re showing this so students have a greater understanding of the individuals involved and the issues involved, so they can make up their own minds.”

There were about 100 people at the screening, but Wilson said the numbers at his showings are not his main concern but that his film is exposed, especially at his alma mater.

“I’ve heard the response is better than anticipated,” Wilson said. “This wouldn’t happen when I was there.”

Most of the people who have seen the film have given Wilson good feedback but only because the people who watch the film are already in support of same-sex marriage, he said.

The documentary’s purpose is to persuade people who are on the fence, which is why he included footage from states where large communities of homosexuals do not exist, he said.

“I feel a lot of the films don’t speak to the people in places like Springfield, Ill.”

Carol Thompson, a sociology associate professor, said the film provides a different view.

“I think the media really polarizes images of the debate,” she said. “It’s a film about regular people. People see a slice of gay life they would never have access to if it weren’t for this film.”

Giles-Sims said “Lesbian Grandmothers From Mars” successfully conveys the struggles of homosexuals.

“This is one group in society that does not have the same rights as heterosexuals in marriage,” she said. “It’s harder to accept, in some ways, that they shouldn’t have these rights.”

Wilson said his work is the first step toward acceptance of gay marriage.

“I feel that this film is a small page or chapter in the story,” he said.

TCU is the first university Wilson said he knows of that has screened his documentary. His only other showing in Texas was at the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, he said.