‘“A Cross Burning in Willacoochee”

This is America

Amos Lassen

I first came into contact with Roy Kirkland when I reviewed his gay comedy, “And There You Are”. I had no idea of the terrible things that had happened to him and when I saw “A Cross Burning in Willacoochee” I was shocked. We can only hope that what happened to him and his partner, Doug Sebastian, will make this a better world for all of us.

On July 21, 1993 Roy and Doug awoke to find what was left of a burned cross in their front yard. This was in the small Georgia town of Willacoochee. Soon afterwards their mailbox was destroyed and then they began to find death threats on their answering machine. I need to remind you that this is America, the greatest democracy in the world. After the mailbox incident, their home was burned to the ground and this isn’t all—the worst was just around the corner and you will have to watch the film to find out what that was.

Sometimes we forget that being gay in America can cost a very high price. Those who live in metropolises have no idea of what it is like to live in a place where being different can cost you your life. Living in Little Rock, I am well aware of the injustices around me yet they are nothing like what gay people might feel in Atkins or Mena, Arkansas or Willacoochee, Georgia. As far as I remember these places are still part of the United States of AMERICA.

There is something hypnotic about the film and that is probably because of the attitude that “it can’t happen here”. We see that it did happen and it continues to happen. One Holocaust may be over but there are still those who have no idea how to treat those of us who are different. This film should be a rallying cry to work together to make the entire country safe for not just the GLBT population but for all people. We have the freedom to disagree but we do not have the right to condemn those who are different. If America is indeed the land of the free, then we must do something to make sure that that is true. We can no longer hide nor can we deprive ourselves of the basic human rights upon which this country was founded.

I cannot tell you how much I admire Roy Kirkland for making this movie and showing the rest of us that being gay is not as easy as many may think. We must now support legislation that hate crimes in this country are neither acceptable nor allowable. What is even more interesting that here in 2010, no one was ever arrested for this incident that occurred in 1993 and no one was ever identified in conjunction with what happened. Willacoochee is a symbol of what can happen anywhere and everywhere if we allow it to. Thank you Roy and Doug for making us aware, ONCE AGAIN, that there are those who do not want us around. The time to act is now—we do not want something like this to ever happen again.

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