When Taylor came up with the idea for Lock Up Your Sons and Daughters, a series of anti-queer propaganda films used to show the true face of homophobia, it was met with a cool response from some members of Vancouver's gay and lesbian community and shelved from the film festival. Taylor explains his reasons for screening these films, and his desire to get the film series out on the road and into the faces of as many people as possible.
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How did you get involved with Out on Screen? Why was Lock Up Your Sons and Daughters bumped from the film festival?
In 1998, I answered an ad that was in one of the Vancouver Gay publications that said Out on Screen was looking for programmers. I said, "Yeah, right, like I can program." So I went there with the notion that even if I couldn't program, I wanted to do some community work. But lo and behold, they almost immediately put me to work creating my first program, which was called Small Town Boys, Farmers' Daughters, and Other Queers in the Bushes, about queers in rural places. The next year, I was curator for the Directors for a New Millennium project, where I asked different filmmakers, festival folk, and other gay figures for a gay director leading the way into the next century. That had a sold-out show, with amazing feedback. From there, I took two years off, where I served on the board and did some miscellaneous work with Out on Screen. Why was the Lock Up
show bumped from Out On Screen? That is a huge, messy situation, which I sort of refuse to discuss. Let's just say there were "scheduling issues."
What is your connection to the Blinding Light Cinema and when did Lock Up... screen there?
The Blinding Light is North America's ONLY full-time experimental movie theater. It shows stuff of varying weirdness, from indie films to somebody's home movie that they shot yesterday. The theater has been around for three-and-a-half years now, and I'm proud to say that I've been volunteering for them for three of those years. I've always loved experimental film, so I hang out at the Blinding Light a lot. Basically Alex Mckenzie, who runs the BL, gave me a chance to do some independent work away from Out on Screen by encouraging me to do a project that I had thought of for a long time, called I Sold My Soul on E-Bay. That show basically consisted of weird film footage bought on the online auction house. A good premise, but hardly any theme, and no audiences either. I also, during the time between that show and Lock Up Your Sons And Daughters, was instrumental in bringing some influential gay directors into town to show their work. Artists like LA-based Jen Gentile and German punk-king Michael Brynntrup have all had retrospectives here because of me. Anyways, when I found out that the Lock Up show was getting the shaft ... OOPS, I mean "cancelled because of scheduling conflicts," Alex (BL) said to put it on anyway, and so I did. Two nights: on August 30-31, 2002. Last long weekend of summer, but we still pulled in one heck of a house for both nights.
Where else have you screened Lock Up... and where do you plan to take it in the future?
Well, soon after I confirmed with Alex about the Blinding Light gig, Joachim Post, a good friend who also is a programmer for the Hamburg Gay and Lesbian Film Fest, was quite excited about the show and really wanted it at his festival too. So, I said, "Okay." After I came back from an amazingly receptive audience in Hamburg, I decided to advertise my show to other queer festivals. When Australia, Miami, New Zealand, and Eugene started making noises, I thought, "Well, why not just go all out and pimp it to every festival imaginable?" So I went to www.filmfestivals.com where I've basically tried to sell it to every festival existing, from horror fests, comedy fests, to even educational film festivals (for teachers). Look here for a complete list of dates. I should tell you that I'm deliberating whether I am actually GOING to Macedonia. That will be a crazy trip. They're not exactly big on queers like me in Skopje. The programmer there wants to face the problem head-on, and have me be the guinea pig. Gulp. We'll see.
What are your reasons for showing these anti-queer propaganda films?
The reason I show these films is to show people how much anti-gay bigotry was and still is out there. I think this is incredibly important as it makes people laugh at how smart people think they are by knowing what homosexuality is, when in fact they haven't got a clue. It's a serious show, one that demonstrates how hateful one can be, even though we're all told to love one another. Yet, it's a funny show, because on several occasions the bigotry blows up in their faces.
What has been the reaction to the showing of these films?
Well, at the showing of these films, people are hooting and hollering, they're all having a good time. There are some serious moments, but people generally have a great time at the show. When I was promoting the show at Vancouver's Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade, people were coming up to me and saying, "Why are you showing anti-gay films? You should be showing PRO-Gay films!" I believe they are missing the point entirely. I think this is TOTALLY a pro-gay show. The reason for that is that I think this is the type of show that not only educates people, but also empowers them into action. I'm not saying that people should go marching down the street and start burning churches (god forbid), but I actually feel proud in showing these films as it totally educates people into knowing what kinds of bigotry is out there, and to make them aware, and even make people respond.
Do you believe laughter is the best medicine when it comes to dealing with the opinions expressed in these films?
Absolutely. Umm, okay, next.
What do these films say about homophobia in our society?
That it was and still out there. Homophobia has been in our culture in varying degrees in history. In this show, I am able to show a wide range of films, made in different decades, of how people reacted to homosexuals. In Perversion for Profit, the increase of homosexuals, lesbians and sadists are blamed on "the Communist masters of deceit." Nowadays, a film like The Gay Agenda uses questionable statistics, fear-mongering and, yes, "ex-gay" spokespeople, to hammer the point home.
What's your reaction to people who say screening these films is wrong because it gives the anti-queer side free publicity?
Again, I say they're missing the point. If I wanted an anti-queer show, I'd turn on the TV on Sunday and watch Jerry Falwell. This is not an anti-queer show. This is a pro-gay show; I'm showing this as a form of empowerment.
How did you feel the first time you saw The Gay Agenda?
I didn't feel much. I laughed actually at how much cheap-shotting there was going on. Look, it's a horribly produced video designed to shock middle class church-goers. There's a scene that shows the San Francisco Pride Parade, with its float of half-naked men. Then it cuts to families in the parade, cuts again to a leather dom and his slave, and then back to the kids, just to prove how "shocking" this whole thing and how we shouldn't invite our kids into it. It's really just horribly manipulative. Then a doctor comes on and starts spewing statistics like "87.4 percent of homosexuals engage in something called rimming, which involves licking in and around a person's anus, and you can't do that without some ingestion of feces." Finally, we get the most ridiculous subjects, the ex-gay ministry spokespeople, who try so hard to act straight yet they're TOTALLY STILL GAY. Hearing one of them say that he will never "conquer" his wife makes me giggle, and the audience roar with laughter
they LOVE these guys!
Why is it important that you are there to host the film night?
I am there as emcee, to introduce the show, and to explain the context of why each film was made, and why it's important to show it. I love talking in front of audiences. I do have an improv comedy and theatre background, so I always like to say half the show is seeing me.
What are a couple of the goofiest moments in the anti-queer films you are showing?
Well there are LOTS
Audiences love Soapy the Germ Fighter because it's so ludicrous. There's Billy, filthy kid, parents beg him to wash. No can do.. Why? "They just want me to be a sissy!" Then one night, Billy has a dream
It's SOAPY! Soapy says, "It's not sissy to be clean!" and asks Billy to "lie down, close your eyes, and I'll show you why it's important to wash." This moment gets a HUGE laugh -- I was shocked the first time this happened, I TOTALLY missed the double meaning of this. Anyway, Soapy may spout the reasons of why soap won't make you a sissy, but with his frilly sleeves, his flesh colored leotards and that ACCENT, you're wondering if Soapy isn't one big fruit himself. Red Light, Green Light: Meeting Strangers is so absurd. It's a children's educational film that uses laughably cheesy subliminal techniques, the most god-awful pacing and the most ridiculous scenarios ever! Warning: Watch out for the lesbians at the "Mary Poppins" matinee! I've mentioned Perversion for Profit, but I'll mention it again. It's a simple film, basically a man, a few charts... but George Putnam (who is introduced as a "Outstanding News Reporter") just says the most ridiculous stuff. This is a real audience pleaser.
Tell me about your reasons for putting the satirical The Heterosexual Agenda last on the program.
Well, I had actually, for a time, ended the show with The Gay Agenda, as a warning that this material is still out there and it somewhat ended on a glum note. Then Mark Kenneth Woods, who I've known for quite a while, came to me and said that he made a parody of The Gay Agenda called The Heterosexual Agenda, would I liketo see it? Would I? So I did see it, and it's the PERFECT ending to the show, as it's basically a reverse mockumentary based on The Gay Agenda only this time, heterosexuality is the evil of the Earth! Mark Kenneth Woods himself plays the "doctor" in this one, giving warning of the evils of vaginal sex, and there's some testimonials from ex-straight people complaining that they thought their lives would mean something while they were straight, if only they produced offspring and baked cookies. It's classic!
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