Pocatello production of ‘Stop Kiss’ tackles love and homophobia

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The message of the Old Town Actors Studio’s latest production couldn’t be more timely. An attack on a gay couple, earlier this month, appears to be just the latest in a string of incidents that has many within Pocatello’s LGBT community on alert. Some residents say they’re fearful that city leaders may not be taking the incidents seriously or doing enough to protect their LGBT citizens. One gay bar-goer tells the Agenda he’s afraid to even go out alone anymore. That’s exactly the message a bias motivated attack sends to both its victims and to the larger community, “Be afraid”.

That fear is just one of the many themes Diana Son’s award-winning play “Stop Kiss” touches on. The story of two women who fall in love, only to be brutally attacked during their first kiss, touches on not only how the ordeal affects their relationship, but those around them as well.  It handles its important themes with wit, grace and a bit of comedic relief.

First produced Off-Broadway in 1998 at The Public Theater in New York City, the play and its subsequent productions have gone on to win a gaggle of awards. According to the studio,”Ben Brantley of the New York Times summed up the critical reaction to Diana Son’s play when he stated that it “generated the warmest advance word of mouth” and has been heralded as a Barefoot in the Part for a new generation.”

The Old Town Actors Studio production opens tonight, the 22nd. It plays the 23, 25, March 1, and 2 at 7:30 p.m. According to a Facebook announcement, the production stars,”the stunning cast of Cassy Baker, Dana Facer, Joe B. Haney, Emily Kvamme, Jason Reed, and new to OTAS Tom Eckert.”

Tickets are Ten Dollars. You can make reservations by calling 208-478-6886. The Old Town Actors Studio is located at 427 N. Main Street in Pocatello.

Click HERE to visit the Old Town Actors Studio’s website.

Episcopal priest will replace Anti-Gay Pastor at Inauguration

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The Reverend Luis León will deliver the benediction during President Obama’s  inauguration ceremony next week.  The pro-LGBT rights priest replaces Pastor Louie Giglio who withdrew from the ceremony after it was revealed that he once  preached a 54-minute anti-gay sermon, entitled “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality.”

According to Gay Star News,”León has previously publicly expressed his support for gay-marriage and diversity and opposition to prejudice.”

“He ministers at St. John’s Church, also known as ‘Church of the Presidents’ just across the park from the White House.”

“León immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1961 at age 11 as one of the ‘Peter Pan children,” reports the site.

“This will be León’s second invocation, the first being in President George W. Bush’s second inauguration, in 2005.”

Watch León’s inspiring message of diversity and equality:

Poll: Major Decrease in those who consider Homosexuality a Sin

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According to a poll released this week by Southern Baptist-affiliated LifeWay Christian Research, Americans who consider being gay a “sin” are sorely lagging behind the rest of the country.

Out of the 1,191 people surveyed in November, LifeWay found that only 37 percent of  said “yes” when asked if homosexual behavior is a sin. Forty-five percent said it was not. Seventeen percent responded that they didn’t know.

The research firm says the numbers show a dramatic decrease from last year’s data, when 44 percent answered yes.

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, says one of the deciding factors in this year’s polling may have been the President’s support for same-sex marriage. In a press release Stetzer says, “the president’s evolution on homosexuality probably impacted the evolution of cultural values – there is a real and substantive shift, surprisingly large for a one-year time frame – though this was hardly a normal year on this issue.”

According to LifeWay, “The survey also reveals Americans in the South (40 percent) are the most likely to select “Yes” to the question “Do you believe homosexual behavior is a sin?” as are Americans who attend religious services at least about once a week (61 percent), and those calling themselves “born-again, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian” (73 percent).”

As Towleroad points out, the “numbers reflect other polls, such as Gallup’s very promising finding this year that 54% of Americans, the highest ever, believe same-sex love is morally acceptable.”

The survey has a margin of error of  2.9 percent.

Watch: Straight LDS Family Members say,”It Gets Better.”

The same openly gay BYU professor who recently produced a video telling BYU students that ”It Gets Better’ has produced another video. This one features LDS family members that have come to terms with their faith and acceptance for their gay loved ones.

Emmy-winning filmmaker, Kendall Wilcox, is a lifelong member of the LDS church and founder of the website empathyfirstinitiative.org. He told The Salt Lake City Tribune, last year, that he doesn’t consider being gay,”a handicap or an impediment God imposed on some unlucky mortals, but yet another attribute for engaging with the gospel of Jesus Christ, he says. “I am happy to be engaged in this way.”

Since reconciling his faith with his sexuality, Wilcox has been working on a documentary film exploring the experience of being homosexual and Mormon.

His newest ‘It Gets Better’ clip made its premiere over the weekend at the national Circling the Wagons conference in Washington, D.C., which featured several high profile speakers like Mitch Mayne, who was called to serve in a LDS leadership position last year.

While the church has made amazing strides regarding its attitudes and beliefs toward the LGBT community, critics point out that it still has a long way to go.  Members, for example, may identity themselves as homosexual but any sexual relations as well as the struggle for marriage equality are still considered by many to be taboo, if not downright sinful.

Still, films like Wilcox’s will go along way in not only creating dialog but in fostering a understanding between LGBT members and their straight counterparts as well.

According to the filmmaker, Wilcox hopes his films, “create safety and peace for all who choose to engage in… important conversations and in-turn heal hearts, homes, and communities.”

Watch: Gay Mormons at BYU say “It Gets Better”

A panel discussion on homosexuality at Brigham Young University drew a standing room only crowd this week.

According to blogger Trevor Antley, the “panel of three self-identified homosexual students and one bisexual student talked openly regarding their struggles with their sexuality and how they have coped with their same-gender attraction along with their Mormon faith.”

“All four students were attending BYU and had committed to living Church standards and the BYU Honor Code,” Antley reports.

While the students are to be commended for creating positive dialog regarding a subject that has long been taboo in most LDS circles, as Queerty’s Dan Avery points out, positive is a relative term.

“Most disturbingly, one of the speakers, Brandon Bastian, is married to a woman and has a young daughter. The secret to his “success” over homosexuality? “A genuine love… not based on physical intimacy,” he told the crowd.”

“That’s not a healthy marriage—that’s a perversity.  Is it any wonder, as Bastian casually mentioned, that his blushing bride is on medications that suppresses her libido?”, writes Avery.

Still, it’s a far cry from the days when the university ran a program that used electric shock therapy and other methods in an attempt to change a student’s sexuality.

Carri P. Jenkins, assistant to the president of BYU, told ABC News last march that,”Our understanding is that most behaviorists no longer believe this is an appropriate treatment for those who are seeking change.”

As further proof that attitudes among the university and its leaders maybe changing, a group of gay LDS students have produced an amazing video for the “It Get’s Better” project.

According to the video, there are over 1800 LGBT students who attend the church owned university.

 

 

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