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CMP and Mezcla Media Collective have developed a unique partnership and are honored to launch the SHIFTING VOICES FILM FUND, the first national grant coming out of Chicago to support Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) filmmakers.
“We are thrilled to be working in tandem with Mezcla Media Collective on this inaugural fund. Their innovative approach to supporting women and non-binary filmmakers of color fits directly in line with the ethos of the fund, and brings a wealth of knowledge to ensure overall success,” said CMP founders Paula Froehle and Steve Cohen.
The rationale of the SVFF, as explained by Froehle and Cohen, is to open access to capital and resources for underrepresented voices in media, stating: “While the national rhetoric around race experienced a major shift in 2020, BIPOC filmmakers still face major structural barriers to getting their stories told within the independent media space.”
The Shifting Voices Film Fund is open to a variety of stories and media developed by BIPOC creators. Overseeing film selection will be longtime industry vet Hussain Currimbhoy, taking on the role of CMP’s Director, Global Project Development/Investment. "To help guide the Shifting Voices Film Fund is a thrill,” said Currimbhoy.
The fund will primarily support feature-length films-in-progress, and is looking to uplift stories that spotlight historically excluded cultures, histories, and experiences in America. Applications for the Shifting Voices Film Fund are now open, and will close at 11:59pm CT on November 22.
"Our stories have long existed. As have the burgeoning community of BIPOC non-fiction storytellers,” said Mezcla founders Colette Ghunim and Elena Valentine. “The issue has long been about access and ensuring that we can provide sustainable support to drive impactful change through documentary film. We are thrilled to partner with an organization like CMP who understands this. And more importantly, together we are rethinking existing processes to make this film fund more equitable, inclusive, and positive for all stakeholders involved."
The Shifting Voices Film Fund is made possible through seed funding from the Chicago Community Trust and the generous support of CMP members.
More information, including the application and FAQ, can be found at wearecmp.org/shifting-voices-fund.
Update: According to the Ray Boltz website, the Christian musician is now retired and living in Florida with his husband. Read on to learn more about Ray Boltz, his music career, his family, and why he decided to come out. In 2010 his album True won Album of the Year at the OUTMusic Awards.
During the course of 15 years in the Contemporary Christian Music Industry, Ray Boltz acquired three Dove Awards, two gold albums, one gold video, 12 number one singles, and sold more than 4 million units of product. Then, he decided to let the world know he's gay.
Why now? Why, after 30 years of marriage, four children, and a career most Christian artists only dream about, would Boltz step boldly out of the closet?
Growing Up in Indiana
In order to understand his actions, it is important to understand Boltz’s background. He grew up in a small town in Indiana with his parents, an older brother, a younger sister, and a younger brother who passed away three months after being born.
He went to public schools and attended a small one-room Methodist church. But even during these young formative years, Boltz would find ways to express his musical ability aside from taking piano and guitar lessons and singing special music at church.
“I was always writing songs…even as a little kid," Boltz said. "I would lay around in the back yard, stare up at the sky and write songs. I loved doing that.”
“When I was young, I also knew who I was attracted to. But anytime I thought about it, it always came with a lot of guilt. I didn’t know any gay people where I lived and never saw it on television. So I listened to what the church told me about homosexuality. And that is, that it was wrong. But if I truly gave my heart to Christ, I could get victory over anything. I just needed to serve the Lord, and He would take care of it.”
That was the mindset that would affect every thought and every action Boltz would have.
Boltz attended college at Ball State University and graduated with a major in marketing and a minor in radio and television. While he was in college, he married Carol, who would be his wife for 30 years. During his college days, he began singing in a variety of churches and associations. This eventually led to him going full-time in contemporary Christian music in 1986.
But when Boltz stepped boldly out of the closet only a few months ago, some of his fans might have felt deceived. After all, Boltz has been blessed with a beautiful family and a successful career that put him on a national and international platform to proclaim the 'good news of Christ.' Yet all that time, Boltz was hiding the fact that he was gay.
I wish I could take people into where I was…to walk a mile in my shoes," Boltz said. "I set out to deceive no one. I believed with all my heart if I prayed enough, if I believed enough, if I read the Bible enough, if I sought counsel enough, if I fasted enough, then these feelings and thoughts would go away. I spent my entire adult life fighting and struggling that way. I don’t think that is deceptive at all. If anything, I was the one who was deceived…by well-meaning people who said it could be overcome.”
Deciding to Come Out
Boltz read every book he could find on the topic, and outside of a Christian counselor, told no one about his struggle.
"After 30 years of trying to overcome this, I finally realized this would never change," Boltz said. "Being gay is not something I do, it is who I am.”
Another counselor Ray was seeing felt he needed to be completely honest about who he is. So one night, Ray was sitting with his family. They knew he had been depressed for quite some time but had no idea what was going on.
His family asked, “Dad, what’s wrong?”
Finally, after years of devastating struggle, Boltz said, “I’m gay.”
“I had never said these words to anyone, outside of a counselor," he said. "But I felt if I couldn’t tell my family, the people closest to me, who could I tell?” It was an emotionally overwhelming time as a family, but a time that would strengthen them as a whole.
“Each member of my family, all four children, and my wife, came to me individually saying they loved me, they cared about me, they accepted me,” Boltz said.
Boltz and Carol separated and eventually divorced realizing that healing needed to occur on many levels for both of them.
“We still love each other," Boltz said. "We talk every day. But we both knew it would be healthier if we separated.”
Ray Boltz on His Faith, Sexuality, and Gay Marriage
And now, four years later, Boltz has made more of a public statement about his faith and sexuality. Why now? Why, after coming out to his family four years ago, would Boltz feel the need to come out in a public way?
Boltz said when he came out to his family, he inadvertently put them in the closet.
“I had a good marriage," Boltz said. "People never suspected there were any problems. So if my kids were asked why we separated, they couldn’t be honest. By coming out publicly, they could be honest and authentic.”
Since coming out to his family, Boltz spent much of his time visiting a variety of Metropolitan Community Churches and other gay-affirming churches.
“These churches were no different from the churches I had sung in for the past 30 years," Boltz said. "They were seeking to worship God in a way they see fit.” They eventually began asking him to sing.
“I knew if I was going to do that, then I had to be completely honest and authentic about my life," Boltz said.
Since coming out publicly, Boltz said his faith has deepened.
“I have come to a point in my faith where it is okay to question things…I don’t want to believe something just because culture says I should believe it," he said. "This is reflected in my songwriting as well. It isn’t wrong to express doubt. Our faith can grow through doubt.”
Though Boltz has overcome the barrier to authentic happiness, many in the Christian music industry are likely still hiding the fact that they are gay out of fear of losing their career, or simply not being able to reconcile their faith and sexuality.
“I can’t be a poster child for people to come out," Boltz said. "But I can say everyone needs people in their lives they can be honest with.”
Boltz said that he plans to continue writing and singing songs in the future. Now he'll be able to share fully who he is and what he believes.
"I think being partnered is a possibility, but what I’m learning is that before you can be happy with anybody else, you have to be happy with yourself and I’m finally coming to that place,” Boltz said.
Find out more about Ray Boltz's music by visiting his shopify site.
So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:
- It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
- There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
- Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.
Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.
Transgender bathroom bills
So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.
Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.
Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.
So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.
Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.
By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.
The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.
Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.
Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.
This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.
Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues
- Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
- There is a rich history behind transgender issues
- Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
- 3(b). The facts
- 3(c).The confidence
- 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights
- On Transgender Day of Visibility, meet six community members ... ›
- This Transgender in Sports Event Tackles Big Issues - OutVoices ›
- Helpful Resources for the Trans Community in Kansas City ... ›
- Transgender people more likely to face food insufficiency - OutVoices ›
- Lee Hatcher - OutVoices ›
- Transgender Representation in Media - OutVoices ›
- Minding Your Health - Tips for Being an Ally to Transgender People ... ›
Are you always wondering what to watch right now? These are some of the best LGBTQ+ movies streaming on Amazon Prime and available for rent on Amazon right now, and for good reason. They range from LGBTQ historical settings to romance to LGBTQ+ pure camp.
Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime
Sook-hee is a pickpocket living in Japanese-occupied Korea and is hired by a con man to be the maid of heiress Lady Hideko and convince her to marry him. Hideko has been living under the tyranny of her uncle Kouzuki and desires to leave. While both women have reasons and ways to deceive each other, many plot twists will guide them to a path of satisfaction. This movie is an erotic, historical, psychological thriller, set beautifully in occupied Korea, that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It has won Best Film Not in the English Language at the 71st British Academy Film Festival and was directed by Park Chan-wook.
Duration: 144 minutes
Country: South Korea
Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime
Mark is a gay activist living in the ‘80s when he notices that the police have stopped harassing LGBTQ+ people; the target has in fact changed, and now the police have moved on to miners’ strikes. Together with gay and lesbian friends, he arranges a bucket collection to help the miners at the London gay Pride. This movie has won the Queer Palm Award at Cannes in 2014; it has received a standing ovation as well. It is directed by Matthew Warchus and is based on a true story.
Duration: 120 minutes
Photo courtesy of Rai
Chiron lives in Liberty City, Miami, and is bullied by his schoolmates; he is found hiding one day by Juan, a drug dealer, who mentors him from then on. Chiron’s mother, Paula, is a drug addict, and often takes her frustration out on her child, assuming that she knows why he is bullied. It will be Juan to tell Chiron that being gay is nothing wrong, but as Chiron grows up he will have to face harder days than the ones in his childhood. This movie has won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay, becoming the first LGBTQ+, all-Black cast movie to win an Oscar. It is directed by Barry Jenkins.
Duration: 111 minutes
Country: United States
Viola di mare (Purple Sea)
Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime
Angela is a vivacious child in Sicily at the end of the 1800s; her father never wanted a daughter and tries to reform her through beating and controlling. But Angela is in love with Sara, and she will do whatever it takes to spend her life by the side of the woman she loves. This movie is heartbreaking at times, it sad and dramatic but also inspiring. It was nominated for two Nastro Argento Awards. The title refers to a type of fish, the Mediterranean rainbow wrasse, which is born female and turns male as it grows older. It is directed by Donatella Maiorca.
Duration: 105 minutes
But I Am a Cheerleader
But I'm a Cheerleader
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Megan is a high school senior cheerleader who is dating a boy named Jared when her parents and friends start suspecting she is a lesbian, with her being a vegetarian and interested in Melissa Etheridge. They stage an intervention calling ex-gay Mike, who works at a conversion therapy camp called True Directions, where Megan is taken and forced to confront her own sexual orientation. This movie is a camp statement, a funny take on a sad reality, and an invite to embrace oneself. It is directed by Jamie Babbit. It is available for rent on Amazon.
Duration: 85 minutes
Country: United States
Tell It to the Bees
Tell It to the Bees
Photo courtesy of the HotCorn
Lydia has an unsteady marriage and a young son when she becomes closer to the town’s doctor, Jean. Her son and Jean share an interest in common, which is beekeeping, and makes the move easier when Lydia starts staying at Jean’s. But they live in a Scottish village in the 1950s, and their bond is bound to be perceived wrongly. This movie is based on the book with the same title and stars Academy Award winner Anna Paquin. It is directed by Annabel Jankel. It is available for rent on Amazon.
Duration: 106 minutes
Photo courtesy of CarolFilm
Therese is an aspiring photographer, working as a sales clerk in Frankenberg's department store in Manhattan in the 1950s when she meets Carol, an older woman who is going through a divorce and is looking for a Christmas present for her child. The encounter leaves Therese with a pair of Carol’s gloves, which she intends to return, and an attraction towards this woman Therese cannot explain just yet. This movie is an LGBTQ+ cult film, nominated for six Academy Awards, and has been critically acclaimed over the years. It is directed by Todd Haynes. It is available for rent on Amazon.
Duration: 158 minutes
Country: United States
Photo courtesy of Youtube
Ben is a young bisexual man who doesn’t have a steady job or relationship; he is a hypochondriac that repeatedly goes through a set routine with his physician. When he meets Sam, he finally has the opportunity to share his trauma and feel understood. It was called by Indiewire 'A sexy and searching act of gay self-analysis'. It is directed by Matthew Fifer and Kieran Mulcare. It is available for rent on Amazon.
Duration: 93 minutes
Country: United States
Women and Sometimes Men
Women & Sometimes Men
Photo courtesy of Amazon
Sara calls off her engagement with a man when her feelings towards women become impossible to hide. She moves in with a friend and starts dating in the lesbian scene, trying to find a balance between what she’s always known and what her heart wants. This movie is campy and lighthearted. It is directed by Lesley Demetriades.
Duration: 87 minutes
Country: United States