David Bohnett Speeches

Beyond Brokeback event at OutWest Exhibit

Thanks for that kind introduction, Gregory, and congratulations to you for the inspiration to create OutWest, and for spearheading such an important and successful exhibition.

We also owe thanks and acknowledgment to my dear partner, Tom Gregory, for his contributions to OutWest. Tom demonstrated keen forsightedness in acquiring the iconic shirts from Brokeback Mountain and making them available for public view through this exhibition. Tom's stewardship of the shirts speaks to his abiding passion for fairness and equality, as well as his acumen and experience as a collector.

Tom's passion for collecting and preserving our history comes from a belief that those that have come before us have left an important legacy through their work and creativity. We would do well as a society to learn from those contributions and foster a culture of respect for our heritage. It's special people like Tom who help us see the world through a different lens and I am lucky to be his partner.

This exhibition shines a bright light on the contributions of the LGBT community to the history and culture of the American West. It's time and it's appropriate that we claim our rightful place in the history of our country. But we must do more. The recent highly publicized tragic suicides of LGBT youth as a result of bullying and harassment is indicative that much work remains to be done. The defeat of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the defeat of marriage equality through Prop 8 provide an additional and urgent call to action.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the strategies that are most effective in neutralizing the negative messages and impact of bullying, discriminatory legislation and religious based intolerance. As much as we might like to, 'frontier justice' tactics and strategies of anger, violence, and ridicule do not best serve our purpose and end goals.

We can learn many lessons from the successful civil rights struggles of the past, and adapt those tactics to further our own quest for equality.

The four most important steps we can take to beat back discrimination and intolerance are;

  1. Confront bigotry and lies with facts. We’ve all seen the ads in the Prop 8 campaign and elsewhere that spread outright lies that attempt to scare and intimidate the electorate. An aggressive response that confronts lies with facts, and a pre-emptive campaign that anticipates this mis-information, turns the tables and undermines the credibility of the message and messenger. The OutWest exhibiton is a prime example of this strategy.
  2. We must support and encourage people of faith to speak up on behalf of fairness and equality for lesbian and gay men and their families in the context of their own faith and teaching. The bible is all too often used as a weapon against us, quoted and mis-quoted by those who seek to deny us freedom and equality. We must challenge those religious leaders and institutions that shamefully and cowardly use the imprimatur of their church and the name of god and Jesus to promote hatred and bigotry toward lesbians and gay men.
  3. We shall promote and support a school curriculum that teaches our children to respect differences in sexual orientation, and again, this is where the OutWest and the Autry's education outreach efforts are so critical.
  4. Finally each of us can initiate a dialog and conversation with friends and family and co-workers about bullying, legal hurdles, and religious intolerance as the main impediments to progress in the march toward full equality for lesbians and gay men and their families
  5. It is all of our obligation to take active measures to create the world in which we all want to live, a world free of bigotry and intolerance, a world that respects and celebrates inner faith and spiritual growth, and a world that promotes dialog and solutions to our societal problems about the environment, overpopulation, and bigotry and hatred toward others.

    There are many groups and individuals, like the Autry, and those gathered here, who are open to our education and outreach efforts and come to accept and support our quest for safe schools and full civil equality. On the other hand, there are groups and individuals who actively work against our efforts, and that our work in education and outreach further emboldens their hatred and zeal to deny us our equal rights. Let us say to these folks; ‘we condemn their intolerance’ and we will expose their hypocrisy, choke off their financial support, and shine the bright light of shame and humiliation on their cowardly prejudices.

    The promise and hope represented by the spirit of the American West leads us toward the inevitable day in the not too distant future when we achieve full equality in society.

    As Tom has taught us and the movie and exhibit demonstrate, we are here to honor and pay tribute to those that have come before us who fought for the right to love who they choose. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of today's program.

    It is now my great privilege to introduce a very special guest who has flown to Los Angeles just for today to join us in commemorating the 5th Anniversary of Brokeback Mountain. It was Diana Ossana's original vision to make the film after first reading Annie Proulx's short story in a 1997 New Yorker magazine. As both producer and screenwriter of Brokeback Mountain, Diana won many honors and awards, including BAFTAS, and GOLDEN GLOBES for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. She and her writing partner, Larry McMurtry, also won Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, (which they should hide from my partner, Tom.)

    Diana has certainly won the appreciation of millions of fans, a few of the most dedicated who are presently waiting in the Autry theater for the film to roll.

    Ladies and gentlemen, Diana Ossana