‘Gay Marriage Thing’ takes a shot at the Festival of Film
BRECKENRIDGE – Nearly everyone has seen the media coverage of the gay marriage debate, particularly the one in Massachusetts. But director Stephanie Higgins doesn’t think what was on the evening news was the whole story.She directed the documentary “The Gay Marriage Thing,” which will be showing Saturday at the Breckenridge Festival of Film. The film is part of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (GLBT) Films at the festival. Higgins will be in attendance for a Q-and-A session following the screening.The film, which was completed in late March, presents the politics, the piety and the people embroiled in and affected by the debate over same-sex marriage. The central couple in the story is Gayle and Lorre, college sweethearts who marked their 15th anniversary a year after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled a ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The film documents the protests and the praise all leading up to May 17, 2004, the first date same-sex couples could file for marriage licenses in Massachusetts.Higgins’ journey to create the documentary began when she attended the Constitutional Convention in Massachusetts in 2003.
“I sat in the gallery and listened to people debating my life,” she said. “There was so much emotion on both sides. There was fear, love, friendship – all in that gallery. (The film) started there on that bench.”She said the issue wasn’t as simple as the news was portraying it. Even though as a gay woman she had her own stance on the issue, she wanted to hear both sides and give everyone a chance to air their emotions.”I wanted to talk to people and get at what the stories were,” Higgins said. “It’s so much harder to listen to people than it is to shout at them. When you feel like you’re being hurt, it’s hard to see someone else’s opinion. I really tried to step out of the way, and hopefully the movie showed that.”One of the reasons Higgins started the project was that she wanted to find an argument for the opposition that she could grasp onto, that would make sense to her.
“I didn’t find that argument, but I did find a lot of people who were passionate about their side. These people’s points are valid because they have feelings about it,” she said.While at the state house on the last day of the heated debate, people from both sides were smashed in like sardines. People donning yellow stickers were against same-sex marriage, and those wearing red stickers were for it.”You’d see a sticker, and automatically they’re a friend or a foe,” Higgins said. “I was really curious what was behind the sticker or what was behind the signs people were holding.”Higgins said that one of the good things about her film is that people on both sides of the debate can sit down together and watch it.
“You can watch this with your father or your grandmother, anyone. People who are not for same-sex marriage will not be offended, and they will get something out of it,” she said.This is the first documentary for Higgins, a freelance video editor and writer in Belmont, Mass., and she hopes to find more stories to tell through film.”The people in (the documentary), they’re compassionate people, and they have good hearts. They just have different opinions.”Jennifer Harper can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 248, or at email@example.com.
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