The Missing Link

A Rollins grad’s film looks at the need for GLBTQ allies.

Annie Koeblitz ’13 made Becoming an Ally, a short film that will be shown at the Global Peace Film Festival, for her brother—well, not exactly him, but those like him who may not have been as fortunate as him, and those who would put him down on account of who he is.

Koeblitz  grew up in a small suburb of Cleveland. She went to what she describes as a hippy school, a place where diversity and tolerance are celebrated. Her brother, with whom she was close, is gay. This wasn’t really a problem for him at New York University, where he went to college and came out, nor was there much tension within her family or community, at least not that she mentions.

But when she moved away from her small town and came to Rollins, both among her peers and in the area, she would hear the slurs—fag, queer—and “it would just nerve me inside,” she says. Friends told her they didn’t know anyone who was gay, so they really had little insight into what it meant to live as a gay man—or for that matter, as a lesbian or bisexual or transgender person.

Around that time, she started following a local news story about a Leesburg middle-schooler who wanted to start a gay-straight alliance at her school to combat bullying. The student was met with protests from conservative groups and school board members, and it took two years and the threat of a lawsuit for officials to finally relent. It is this story, combined with her personal experience of having a gay brother, that Koeblitz wants to relay.

“That could be the missing link for some of these college students,” Koeblitz says. Gay-straight alliances in high school allow straight students to interact with their GLBTQ peers, and that interaction can often form a basis of understanding, she says.

When she submitted the movie to her professor Denise Cummings at the end of last semester, Cummings was so impressed with it that she suggested Koeblitz submit it to the Global Peace Film Festival, an annual collection of movies and shorts focused on GLBT and other social justice issues. She did, but didn’t expect much. And then to her surprise, Becoming an Ally was selected, and will open for one of the festival’s most talked about features, Billy & Alan: In Life, Love and Death, Equality Matters, a documentary focused on local writer Billy Manes’ struggles in the wake of his partner’s death last year. 

Becoming an Ally can be seen Wednesday, September 18 at 6 p.m. in the Bush Auditorium on the Rollins College campus, or on Saturday, September 21 at the Cobb Plaza Cinema Café.