“By my coming out it helped so many other people around me to grow and to change. I watched all that growth that happened both for me and my family, and my friends. It was an amazing time. Once you like you then they know who the real you is, and then they can love you.”
– Gary Keating, Stories From the LGBTQ Community
Open Dialogues: Stories From the LGBTQ Community captures the diverse coming-out narratives of seven Broward residents who shared their stories in on-camera interviews.
Produced by the Art and Culture Center/Hollywood, and directed, photographed and edited by Miami-based filmmaker Freddy Rodriguez, Stories From the LGBTQ Community reveals in intimate detail how the LGBTQ community is often marginalized within families, schools, churches and public spaces – and how individuals featured in the film learned to empower themselves in these spaces.
The Broward residents who shared their coming-out experience are Dan Bassett, Franchesca D’Amore, Michael Goodman, Gary Keating, Omar Morales, Julie Marie Wade, and Christine Walters. Wade, a nationally renowned writer, reads select poems from her 2014 collection When I Was Straight.
The online publication Queer Guru described Stories From the LGBTQ Community as “powerful,” adding that the film “is exactly what most queer people would have loved to been able to view on the verge of ‘coming out’ as gay. Listening to the stories of seven South Florida members of the LGBTQ community articulate on their own journeys is such an uplifting experience.”
About the Cast
Dan Bassett is Assistant Principal of St. Mark’s Episcopal School in Fort Lauderdale. He has served as the artistic director of the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble since 2005. He plays the trumpet and lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Francis Lyn.
Franchesca D’Amore is a member of the Hollywood LGBTQ+ Council and serves on the Board of Safe Schools South Florida. A Hollywood resident, she has more than 25 years of experience as a personal/professional development and life coach.
Michael Goodman is the owner/founder of GPR/Goodman Public Relations. He is an Honorary Trustee at the Art and Culture Center/Hollywood, Board Chair of the Florida Theatrical Association, and performs nationally under the stage name Michael Dean as Cher.
Gary Keating founded the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus in 1986 and served as its director prior to his retirement. He lives in Oakland Park with his husband Richard Schultz.
Omar Morales is the former Office Assistant – Administrative and Executive Department at the LGBTQ Community Service organization SunServe in Wilton Manors. A native of Puerto Rico, he lives in Fort Lauderdale with his partner Johnnie Mejia.
Julie Marie Wade is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Florida International University. She is the author of 12 books of poetry and creative nonfiction. A native of Seattle, Washington, she lives in Dania Beach with her spouse, Angie Griffin.
Christine Walters is Co-Chair of the South Florida Bisexual+ Network. A native of Pembroke Pines, she is a veterinarian specializing in exotic and aquatic animal medicine.
Director’s Statement from Freddy Rodriguez:
“It’s a Director's job to help a film, be it narrative or documentary, to tell its story. In the case of Open Dialogues: Stories from the LGBTQ Community, it was my job to take seven stories and help tell them as efficiently as possible, while striving to keep the emotion authentic. It’s not often that I get impacted so deeply with a project. As a married gay man, who lives safely in a Miami suburb, I have become completely complacent of the LGBTQ struggle. Working on Open Dialogues reminded me that hate and misunderstanding not only play a powerful role on how we are perceived as a community, but plays an even more important role in how we perceive ourselves as gay people. The stories in Open Dialogues are real, powerful, and raw. Prepare yourself.”
Advisory Committee Members
Support for Open Dialogues: Stories From the LGBTQ Community was provided by the following funds at the Community Foundation of Broward: Helen and Frank Stoykov Charitable Endowment Fund, Ruth H. Brown Fund for the Arts, Dot and Keith Cobb Fund, and Mary and Alex Mackenzie Community Impact