In 2001, Karla Drenner became a member of the Georgia state House of Representatives. I looked her up on Wikipedia and one descriptor states, “A lesbian, Drenner was the first openly gay member of the Georgia State Assembly.” Today she is one of four LGBT members, alongside Reps. Simone Bell and Keisha Waites, all Atlanta Democrats. Her campaigns have won the backing of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. What struck me was the fact that in 2014, the adjective “lesbian” was even still a descriptor. I did look up Hillary Clinton and, surprise, she is not referred to as “openly heterosexual Hillary”…
In the impactful and enlightening documentary BREAKING THROUGH (2013) director Cindy Abel brings the stories of members of the LGBT community who are elected officials to our attention in a way that reminds us of the struggles and triumphs of individuals who, though meant to feel less than equal, want to serve all citizens. And, to my additional surprise, there are so many openly gay women doing just that in communities from Houston to Washington, D.C.
Bonnie Dumanis, San Diego district attorney, said, “I always thought being gay would be a barrier.” Joan Garner states that she was always told that “homosexuality was a mental illness.” And Phyllis Frye, a transgendered Houston judge, stated that she went to military school and married in hopes she would be cured.
Cindy Abel, the director, says it best, “In BREAKING THROUGH, openly LGBT elected officials- including the first gay U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin– share their stories of self-doubt and triumph over multiple barriers, revealing a deeply personal, rarely seen side of politicians and gay people. Though featuring politicians, it isn’t about politics; it’s about people who feel fear and shame and yearn to live meaningful lives. They reveal how they broke through barriers internally, daring to believe something different than what they were told, and externally as they pursued and achieved the future they envisioned.”
BREAKING THROUGH highlights LGBT officials at all levels, from members of U.S. Congress and Houston Mayor Annise Parker to a Dallas County Latina lesbian sheriff and a young African American man who grew up homeless and hopeless. Their stories show that anything is possible regardless of barriers impact. They will inspire people from all backgrounds and walks of life.
An award winning documentary, BREAKING THROUGH was shown at the San Diego Film Festival in 2013 and others that followed. It will be available on iTunes, Amazon and DVD on June 3, 2014. I know I, for one, will purchase my copy. Why? Because Cindy Abel has masterfully told the stories of numerous women and men who broke through the glass ceiling to be elected senators, governors, judges and other elected officials. Remember, it is 2014 and this accomplishment is not just incredible, it is one of those defining moments in history. They are our inspiration.
Jan Miller Corran, Ph.D., is CEO/President of More Than Friends Productions (MTF). Dr. Corran is a film producer with numerous films to her credit as Executive Producer, Associate Producer or consultant. For a list of her books and films, visit www.morethanfriendsproductions.com