www.ambiente.us JUNE | JUNIO 2010
NEVER BLEND IN | PART FOUR
ROY KIRKLAND & DOUG SEBASTIAN | A CROSS BURNING IN
Researched and Written by David Watters
One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with
potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other
virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful,
generous, or honest. - MAYA ANGELOU
Homophobia and transphobia are still far more widespread than many are aware of or
are prepared to admit.
On the surface, it seems that society has grown more “accepting” of the LGBT
community but this, in itself, still suggests that “acceptance” is required, that we are
“less than” and that our VALUE is based upon the judgment of others.
ALL the “ism’s” STILL exist; racism, sexism, there is discrimination against the elderly,
against the young, the “differently-abled” and all of these prejudices have equal
importance and must be actively challenged.
Homophobia occurs in many different ways and ranges from subtle to malicious;
gossip, name-calling, intimidating looks or words, vandalism and theft of property.
In its most severe incarnation, homophobia and transphobia have resulted in the all
too frequent and brutal murders of innocent people.
It is only through luck, fate or wise
judgement that Roy Kirkland and
Doug Sebastian escaped with their
lives. Had they not fled from their
home one fateful night in 1993, they
would have become merely another
addition to the lengthy list of
senseless hate fuelled murders at
the hands of cowardly, bigoted,
Filmmakers Roy Kirkland and Doug
Sebastian have recently released the
powerful, emotionally honest and
disturbing documentary A CROSS
BURNING IN WILLACOOCHEE (DSP
Movies), which details the hate
crimes committed against them in
Here, Roy Kirkland shares a brief
outline of their shocking story:
On the morning of Wednesday, July
21, 1993, an incident occurred in the
small South Georgia town of
MIAMI RIVER INN
Out in the Tropics
June 7-11, 2010
My partner at the time (and my best friend today), Doug Sebastian, were awakened to
find a seven-foot charred cross in our front yard.
The Chief of Police said it was probably a "bunch of niggers down the road that did it".
Further compounding the problem were comments made by a Willacoochee City
Council member who said he was not surprised by the incident because the
town is largely anti-gay.
However, the cross burning was just the beginning. A few weeks later our mailbox
was destroyed followed by death threats on our answering machine.
Then the unthinkable occurred, our home burned to ruins.
We had no idea that, after all that had happened; the worst was yet
to come concerning one of the nation’s largest Insurance
Companies, State Farm. The bigotry presented by them was as bad
as what we experienced in Willacoochee.
Roy Kirkland and Doug Sebastian’s story, shared with creative flair, factual accuracy,
integrity and emotional honesty, serves to remind us all that we have not yet achieved
full social equality and that the time for complacency has not yet arrived.
A Cross Burning in Willacoochee deserves to be widely seen as it has great potential
to alter public perceptions and will no doubt encourage others to confidently confront
those who belittle and bully them based upon sexual orientation or gender identity.
Kirkland and Sebastian have, perhaps unintentionally, assumed the role of
character educators. In successfully modeling admirable qualities and character
traits such as authenticity, determination, vision and social responsibility, both have,
perhaps without realizing, become role models and inspirational figures to those
whose lives they touch.
“By making this documentary, we hope to encourage others to stand up against
bigotry and hatred and be proud of whom they are.” Roy Kirkland
Bigotry is being addressed in law, in policy and in procedure within schools and in the
workplace but culturally the progress is much slower. Painfully and frustratingly slow.
Those who hold beliefs about any specific group in society will not change those
perceptions because of any law or policy. Instead, as John Amaechi told David
Watters in Never Blend In, “bigots have become more sophisticated”.
We shouldn’t compromise our identity to be accepted and everyone regardless of
sexuality or gender identity has a right to fully live.
I congratulate Roy and Doug on this incredible documentary which shares much
more than their story but holds a mirror to society and reflects the shared experience
of our community.
TO READ MORE ABOUT THE DOCUMENTARY:
TO PURCHASE THE DOCUMENTARY:
CLICK HERE for more David Watters
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