Cathedral honors International Day AgainstHomophobia with a showing of “Teach Your Children Well” and film makers and activist panel. Monday 14th May at 7.30 p.m.

“I was bullied badly when I was a student, starting all the way back in elementary school. It started in my fifth grade Physical Education class. I knew I was different, but I was trying very hard to keep it a secret. I didn’t want to be rejected by my family, my friends or my church. But I didn’t throw a ball in the most masculine ways. One of the boys yelled, “You throw like girl!” Then others joined in. “You’re a queer,” they said, laughing. “You’re gay! You’re gay!

I was tormented inside. This was my secret. I never wanted anyone to know. It was clear that I was devastated, but the PE teacher did absolutely nothing and simply said “get back to the game.” After school, I ran home and cried. I had to go to school and face the tormenting day after day, but I didn’t let anyone know or give anyone a clue that what they were saying about me might be true – that’d they’d discovered the secret I’d wanted to keep buried. By high school, the constant bullying led me to extreme depression. My grades dropped, and so did my aspirations.

I attempted suicide twice.

When I recovered and finally came to terms with who I was, I knew I was going to dedicate my life to making sure that no other kids would endure what I endured”. Vincent Pompei, Val Verde High, Perris CA.

GLSEN (Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network) has been providing educational resources for parents and teachers as well as volunteer opportunities for the community to help prevent the kind of experiences that Vinnie is describing. Here in San Diego we are fortunate to have an active GLSEN chapter, Co-Chair Colin Pearce will be discussing ways that GLSEN San Diego works to address and end bullying and share some volunteer opportunities with the community. Colin and Vinnie will be on a distinguished panel discussing these issues and how we create positive change.

This is the second of two significant films on anti-LGBT violence and bullying that Robin Voss has had a role of Executive Producer. Her first highly successful film in which she was also the co-creator, was “For the Bible Tells Me So” this feature length documentary was also shown at the cathedral a few years ago.

Voss once described the Church as the “last bastion of ordained prejudice.” She lives with her husband Bruce in Newport Beach and they have three children, two stepchildren, and three grandchildren and has always been a contrarian. Noting that Jesus’ message is one of inclusion and that he champions the marginalized, she knows that if here today, he would reach out to anyone discriminated against.

Gary Takesian, who lives in Long Beach, will be talking about their new film “Teach Your Children Well”, narrated by Lily Tomlin. The filmmaker explained that the subject matter was one that was dear to his heart. He recounted, “As a gay man myself, homophobia issues have always been present for me. And there was a point at which I decided I wanted to do something to bring the issue of homophobia to the screen.”

The school shooting of 15-year-old Lawrence King in Oxnard, California, inspired Takesian to make a film on bullying. But when he was unable to get people to commit to interviews, he decided to broaden the scope of his movie. He recalled, “We decided that rather than tell the Lawrence King story… to use that as a point of departure to talk about the whole issue surrounding school violence, bullying and that those are really caused by homophobia.”

Rev. Canon Albert Ogle is President of the St. Paul’s Foundation for international Reconciliation based at St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego and has been working with 76 countries where it is still illegal to be LGBT. He is hoping to bring representatives of these countries to the World AIDS Conference in Washington DC this coming July. “Criminalization also means lack of access to life saving prevention and health services for millions of LGBT people worldwide and religious communities are in the front lines of anti-LGBT rhetoric that often leads to draconian legislation like the Bahati Bill in Uganda”. Ogle will also be part of this distinguished panel and show a preview of a new film about this largely underground movement. “Call me Kuchu” (queer in Ugandan slang) is about the life of Ugandan murdered activist David Kato and the impact of global homophobia and LGBT violence. “In December  the United Nations received its first ever high level report on anti-LGBT violence. It documents a systemic problem from bullying on American playgrounds to state-sponsored executions of LGBT people in 7 countries. The report can be read here and is very significant to our discussions as we celebrate International Day against Homophobia in mid May (IDAHO).”

St. Paul’s Cathedral and partner organizations including GLSEN, St. Paul’s Foundation, Integrity Circle and many local faith communities and school districts, will mark this important week with a free showing of “Teach Your Children Well” and a preview of “Call me Kuchu” at 8 p.m. on Monday 14th May. A champagne reception will be held at 7.30 p.m. before the showing of the film and panel discussion. “It is an honor to have these creative and talented film makers and activists who are making our schools and our world a safer place, present in San Diego to mark International Day Against Homophobia” said Very Rev. Scott Richardson, Dean of the cathedral.