Out Now, Springfield’s LGBTQ youth group, has been recognized for its work—summed up in its motto: “Don’t Hate: Liberate!”—by the makers of an acclaimed documentary about the bullying of a gay teen.
The group was named the 2013 winner of the Out in the Silence Award for Youth Activism, given by filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson. The award was named for their 2009 film, which told the story of the torment faced by a gay kid in the small, conservative Pennsylvania town where Wilson grew up. After the film’s release, the filmmakers, who are married, created the award to recognize the important work being done by young people to address bullying and discrimination against gay kids.
This year, Out Now took the prize. In an announcement, Hamer and Wilson call the group “a powerful community-empowerment organization and an important voice for peace and justice in Springfield, Mass., and far, far beyond” and note that its work focuses not just on gay equality but on broader issues of social justice, working, for instance, on campaigns against police brutality and racial profiling.
“[W]hat most impresses us is Out Now’s commitment to not just serving young people but helping them understand that LGBT liberation (what is now called ‘LGBT equality’) should be seen as an all-inclusive movement that’s intrinsically bound to other social justice movements, and that there could be no justice for LGBT people without justice for people of color, women, workers, those in other nations, etc., because we are one and the same,” Wilson and Hamer said.
They also note Out Now’s role in co-founding the Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition after the controversial anti-gay minister Scott Lively moved to Springfield, as well as its role in a legal case challenging Lively’s involvement in the creation of anti-gay legislation in Uganda.