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Advocacy News - Tying the Knot Director to marry in Toronto

October 22, 2004

Tying the Knot director to marry in Toronto
Doc Soup hosts premier of film in breakthrough city

"In Holland we have a saying that a civilization can be judged on the way it treats its minority. If it treats its minorities well, then it is a civilized country."
Adjied Bakas, married gay citizen of the Netherlands, Tying the Knot

Tying the Knot is the latest in an ongoing series of reports sent by authors and filmmakers from the front-lines of the movement for marriage equality. And we mean the front-lines: up close and personal.

Director Jim de Sève's first film, Tying the Knot made its theatrical debut in the U.S. on October 1st. An official selection at over 22 film festivals in 2004, the film won Best Documentary at the Frameline Film Festival, and was named Best Feature at the Fresno Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, where de Sève won Best Director.

Tying the Knot
November 3 @ 7 pm
Bloor Cinema
(506 Bloor St. W.)
Tickets are $10 at the door. Free for students
courtesy of the Toronto Star

Toronto film-goers have a chance to see what all the buzz is about when the film makes its local debut on November 3 (7 p.m.) as part of Hot Doc's Doc Soup program.

De Sève has assembled film from archival and news sources, and combined these sources with his own film captured over the past three years. The film's viewpoint is one of unapologetic advocacy, and obviously we share the viewpoint. The film is full of friends and colleagues who we have worked with in Canada, Europe and the United States:

  • Evan Wolfson compares the gay marriage struggle to the legal battle to end antimiscegenation laws (the famous Loving v. Virginia case that ended this practice).
  • E.J. Graff gives her wonderful historical perspective on the evolution of marriage, from her book "What is marriage for?",
  • Dr. Kees Waaldijk (the 'father' of gay marriage in the Netherlands) points out that same-sex marriage is a small change compared to bigger changes to marriage in the past.
  • Rev Troy Perry, the founder of our denomination, the Metropolitan Community Church participates in the Canada/U.S. Valentine's day of action.


"They argued that if we allowed interracial couples to marry, society would fall apart. They argued it would be bad for the children. They argued that it would be unfair to different States that didn't want to allow these kinds of couples to marry. They made very much the same kinds of arguments we hear today made to defend sex discrimination in marriage."

Evan Wolfson, Tying the Knot

Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa with Evan Wolfson (middle).

It is always a pleasure to hear from our academic, spiritual and legal champions. We owe a great deal to these heroes. But while the experts help tie things together in this film, it's the personal stories that provide the knot.

"Last year at this time, she was still alive," says Mickie Mashburn, a lesbian cop battling for her slain wife's pension. "For Valentine's, where you send off for care bears, that's what she got me last year on February fourteenth. She bought me roses and she had one of those bears sent to me so you sit back and think what a year changes. And it's hard."

Sam, a gay rancher struggles to save everything he and his dead partner built together.

"I miss him," says Sam as he fights relatives over an estate. "I miss him a lot. If he were here now, I wouldn't be having all the problems I'm having."

When the film turns to Toronto, the mood lightens as de Sève drops in on the celebrations during the 2003 Pride parade. There is Rev. Brent Hawkes, the pastor who performed our 2001 marriage at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto (spearheading the successful challenge for legal recognition).

Bill Wrigley and Carolyn Swadron (Photo by, 2002)

Our friends Bill Wrigley and Carolyn Swadron are shown carrying signs from this web site and kissing for the camera when its discovered they are straight and married to each other.

We are asked to respond to people who don't like same-sex marriage: "If you don't like same-sex marriage, don't have one."

Michael Leshner kisses his husband Michael Stark, and Faith-based bigotry on parrade (From Tying the Knot, 2004)says "You can't do that in America yet, but I'll be there."

It's not clear whether the comment is a taunt or a reassurance. It may be the only ambiguous point in the film. The next scene transitions to a litany of hateful demonstrations and comments by opponents of the expansion of human rights to gays and lesbians. Their intentions are quite clear.

Tying the Knot juxtaposes what's happening in the U.S. against the climate in the Netherlands and Canada, where same-sex couples have been granted marital parity. Because Canada doesn't have citizenship requirements for same-sex couples to marry, scores of gay and lesbian Americans travel to Canada to protect their families through legal marriage. Tying the Knot's director will soon count himself among them.

Jim de Sève plans to marry his partner of 5 years, Kian Tjong, while the pair are in Canada for the Toronto premier of the film (Kian is one of the producers).

"A wedding is always exciting, of course," says Hot Docs publicist Kirsten Evans, "and given the recent developments in New York state law [where Jim lives] this is an important step for them."

It doesn't get more personal than that.

Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell

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