Showing of LGBTQ film draws support – and ire

      A showing of a film addressing LGBTQ issues at Whitewater Public Library last week drew a crowd, not to mention some protest.

      Irvin L. Young Memorial Library Director Stacey Lunsford confirmed the showing of the film, “Love, Simon,” March 7, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

      The event was advertised as for teens ages 13 to 18, though all were welcome. Lunsford said the event drew more than 60 people – most of who were in support of the message.

      However, that did not mean the programming was universally accepted. A police presence was at the event – Lunsford confirmed two officers were inside, and photos from the event showed police outside as well – and a concerned citizens group informed Whitewater Police Chief Dan Meyer that it would have attendees at the group.

      Lunsford said the event remained “positive.”

       “The people who came in protest behaved appropriately,” she explained. “I think that the kids had a good time and the parents were happy.”

      Lunsford and Whitewater City Manager John Weidl, meanwhile, defended the showing of the movie, with Lunsford explaining that the showing was part of the library’s strategic plan activities and approved by the library board.

      That includes, she said, collections and programming appealing across segments of the population.

      “Sometimes it’s a small group, but they’re also part of the community,” she said.

      Lunsford added that another goal is to provide welcoming, safe spaces throughout the library.

      The movie “Love, Simon” is based off the book “Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” written by Becky Albertalli. The young adult novel is summarized as, “Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight.”

      The 2018 film stars Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel, and runs just short of two hours. It tackles the issues of young adults “coming out” when Simon is blackmailed because of an email.

      Lunsford said the library consulted with the faculty advisor for the Gay/Straight Alliance at Whitewater High School before showing the film as part of an “LGBTQ Movie Night.”

      Meanwhile, the concerned citizens wrote to Chief Meyer to explain they would be at the movie showing. Lunsford estimated that 15 of those people showed up to the movie.

For the full story, please see the print edition of the Whitewater Register.

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