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'Same Difference': Documentary Film Looks At LGBT Youth - VIDEO


Filmmakers Joshua Sweeny and Kyle Wentzel are shedding light on the powerful effects that school environments have on LGBT youth in their new documentary Same Difference. The film tells the stories of two gay-identified boys, Graeme Taylor and Justin Aaberg, growing up in the midst of drastically different social settings:

Graeme Taylor, now 18 and off to college, grows up and goes to school in a supporting environment that allows him to thrive. Justin Aaberg (1994-2010) unfortunately grows up and goes to a school filled with intolerant backwards policies and scandal. Justin was just one of nine LGBT youth that took their lives while attending the Anoka-Hennepin School District between 2009-2011.

Same Difference focuses on the Anoka-Hennepin School District, which was identified as a suicide contagion area between 2009-2011 by state health officials after a slew of bullying-related deaths. Sweeny and Wentzel are currently in the process of raising funds to complete post production on the film via their IndieGogo page with 26 days left to go. Completion of their funding goals will bring the film to the festival circuit as well as to classrooms in order to better equip teachers and educators to handle discussions about LGBT identity in youth populations.

Watch the trailer for the film, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. This is Amazing. Truly sad. Xo's

    Posted by: AnthonyR | Jul 3, 2014 11:26:50 AM

  2. Cannot wait. What a profoundly important subject, and this angle is terrific.

    One of the things that happens when you live in a big city as an LGBT person is hearing the horror stories from all the others who made their pilgrimage to your city from some smaller-town. The term "tight-knight community" doesn't mean "cohesive one" - it's only great if you're an easily-blending part of that "knit" - too unique? prepare to be outcast.

    And it's shown time and again, the schools with GSAs and pro-Equality curriculum are safer school environments, with fewer cases of bullying, and fewer suicides. But the Conservative Right ignores this. Just as they ignore that the schools with "abstinence only education" have higher teen pregnancies and STD rates.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 3, 2014 11:26:52 AM

  3. What? No trannies? Gay men die every day but all people care about now is uppity trannies.

    Posted by: MaryM | Jul 3, 2014 11:41:19 AM

  4. You know what, folks? Ignore the troll - i've been more guilty than most with feeding them, but enough is enough. This site has two worthless individuals with no lives who come here every day to anonymously spew hatred. We have to freeze them out, since it's clear the site's moderators have no interest in enforcing a better comment system. we all know who the trolls are, what they say, how they sound when they say it - ignore them, and they'll finally be forced to face reality and off themselves.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 3, 2014 11:45:03 AM

  5. @Little Kiwi: Having to put up with commentary from trolls is the price of free speech, both at a Towleroad and in a free society outside the internet.
    A comment system where all commenters would have to register personal information would not be a "better" one, in my opinion; it would be a less free one. You could forget about ever seeing another comment from a lonely and closeted gay teen in rural Mississippi or Jamaica who might see a free internet comment forum as the only place in life where they can express themselves without a sense of immediate ostracization or violence.

    Posted by: GregV | Jul 3, 2014 12:08:47 PM

  6. @ KIWI & GREGV:

    interesting and informative comments.

    Maybe it's not that important to find out whether a poster is using different posting names. Maybe you just respond to that particular comment from whatever posting name it's coming from.

    But, GREGV, it gets annoying when you can tell that one poster is using different posting names--just to spout hatred. He thinks he's being clever. He's just annoying...and crazy.

    Posted by: Derrick from Phlly | Jul 3, 2014 12:29:21 PM

  7. The angry old black tranny-lover is threatened by my truth yet again. And she even brought her alter ego LittleCanadian out to bulk up her lacking criticism.

    Is this the best offense the trannies have?

    Posted by: MaryM | Jul 3, 2014 12:32:32 PM

  8. GregV - I disagree. Disqus is a great commenting system, that will still allowed a closeted teen to express themselves, safely, while keeping this site's worthless trolls at bay.

    Ignore The Troll. Eventually he'll die.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 3, 2014 12:38:25 PM

  9. I'm beginning to suspect that Rick is actually someone hired by the site moderators to purposely troll because it drives up page views/clicks.

    I mean there seems to be no other reason for this person to post here. It boggles my mind that Andy hasn't switched over to disqus by now. So there must be some benefit to keeping the same commenting system and allowing the trolls to maintain a presence on this site.

    Posted by: Tyler | Jul 3, 2014 12:56:34 PM

  10. Tyler, I've thought the same thing myself, actually.

    This site hasn't even mentioned the passing, this week, of Frank Robinson, openly-gay writer and Harvey Milk's speech writer. We got, instead, a story about shirtless mormons slip-and-sliding - and the expected daily deluge of trolling comments that are racist, homophobic, transphobic and misogynistic.

    the commenting system over at JoeMyGod is far superior, and discussion still happen- great ones, with actual worthy thoughts being shared.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 3, 2014 1:02:57 PM

  11. And JMG gets far higher page views. His stories are far better, far more current and far more substantive.

    I'm actually flabbergasted that Andy hasn't made any effort to keep up with the LGBT blog competition and has instead opted to allow his site to be diluted to something as shallow as it is now.

    The only change was the introduction of a new, weird mobile version of the site that nobody uses anyway.

    Posted by: Tyler | Jul 3, 2014 1:11:17 PM

  12. And the typos. Somehow JMG's stories manage to be typo free and competently written despite having a smaller staff and fewer big-time sponsors.

    Posted by: Tyler | Jul 3, 2014 1:12:51 PM

  13. This looks like a good project, worthy of support. I'll go in for $25. I hope you guys will join me.

    The only thing that could be an issue with this film is that it can't spend all its time with gay kids and sympathetic experts lecturing the camera. That makes for a deadly dull documentary and doesn't shed light on why it has been so hard to implement effective anti-bullying policies. The film should turn the camera on kids that bully and let them speak. And it also should include a focus on the horrific groups that formed in Minnesota - there are 2 or 3 of them - which style themselves as "child protection" or "parents" groups, but which take no interest in anything other than opposing anti-bullying policies.

    Posted by: Pete | Jul 3, 2014 2:23:20 PM

  14. This is more of a comment re:Towleroad, rather than the film.

    When/if these Indigogo or Kickstart projects get completed, is that announced here? I am always seeing the trailers, but I don't recall seeing one reported here as having been released.

    Posted by: Randy | Jul 3, 2014 6:40:14 PM

  15. @tyler...
    joe has a proofreading genius who donates her time. she's a straight ally and a friend of mine who has been there time and again. she has also done yeoman's work for pflag and to finally achieve marriage equality in indiana, and as many of you know that last was no mean feat.

    we have the best allies in the world.

    Posted by: bandanajack | Jul 4, 2014 7:58:53 AM

  16. very sad. hopefully this documentary helps.

    Posted by: reality | Jul 7, 2014 6:59:24 PM

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