I live in a Central Pennsylvania “city” of less than 10,000 people. For the farmers in the hills nearby, Sunbury, PA is the big city. Having lived in NYC, Memphis, Quito, and near Birmingham, England, Sunbury is tiny, quaint, and trapped in time. Sometimes the lifestyle and attitudes make it feel like the 1950’s. Then a horse and buggy goes by and I am in the 1850’s.
Our little local paper, The Daily Item, stays viable because they cover extremely local news. Seems everyone reads it. If your picture appears in the Sunbury Daily Item, people will talk to you. “I saw your picture in the paper.” They don’t always chat about the content of the article, but they are impressed that you made it to the big time.
I enjoy reading the paper, and I see they do a fine job of highlighting a broad range of life in the Susquehanna Valley, including LGBTQ issues. So I was thrilled when Justin Strawser, a writer at the paper, wanted to a story about my queer Bible film heading to Uganda.
In the film, which has been screened this year in cities across North America and Europe, Toscano explores characters from the Old and New Testaments who act in a way outside their gender expectations. It features characters like Joseph and his coat of many colors; Deborah and her role as a judge, prophet, warrior and poet; an Ethiopian Eunuch who was the first to be baptized in the Book of Acts; and a man with a water pitcher who led Jesus and his disciples to the Last Supper. Each of the characters is represented by different scarves and their stories are taken directly from the pages of the Bible.
And I got to talk about the situation in Uganda.
“The film being screened in Uganda is notable in light of anti-LGBTQ actions pursued by religious leaders and lawmakers,” Toscano said. “In 2009, a group of American Evangelical pastors traveled to Uganda to convince lawmakers to subject gay men to conversion therapy in an attempt to ‘cure’ them. These Americans painted such negative views of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, that some Ugandan lawmakers sought to impose the death penalty on gay Ugandans. That law never passed, but the legal and social violence against LGBTQ people in Uganda continues.”
The article, Area artist’s work to be in an international LGBTIQ film festival. Tomorrow (Nov 28) Susquehanna University will show the film on campus.