Waymon Hudson

IN THE LIFE- "Challenging Convention"

Filed By Waymon Hudson | March 22, 2008 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Edward Albee, In the Life, Kathleen Turner, Poland

IN THE LIFE, the three-time Emmy Award nominated program documenting the lives and experiences of gay people nationally and abroad, presents its new episode, "Challenging Convention." I was lucky to get a preview of the April episode (one of the perks of writing for Bilerico) and wanted to share my review with all of you.

To put it simply: It is a must see.

While I have always been a fan of ITL, this episode is especially interesting and timely. I found myself glued to my computer watching the entire show.

The episode features 4 separate stories each one focusing on a completely different aspect of the LGBT experience.

And Tango Makes Three

My favorite by far was the piece focusing on the "controversial" children's book And Tango Makes Three. Topping the American Library Association's list of the most challenged books in 2006, this book, based on a true story, tells the tale of how two male penguins, Roy and Silo, hatched an egg all of their own. Like other penguins, they share a nest, they cuddle, and, in zoological-speak, "pair-bond" with one another. But when they bring an egg-shaped rock into their nest and try to hatch it, they're met with little success, until an observant zookeeper decides they deserve a chance at the real thing and switches the rock for a real egg. What follows, is the charming story of how these two fathers nurture, and eventually hatch, the egg and welcome their new daughter, Tango, into their nest.

It is full of great insight and first hand interviews showing how the kids that hear the story have no issue with the two boy penguins having a loving relationship and a family. It is moving and poignant, especially in light of the recent violence against LGBT youth. Maybe if we had more books and lessons like Tango, we could stop some of this violence.

Coming Out in Poland

Another amazing story is the piece on being LGBT in Poland. In Poland, a former Soviet bloc state and one of the largest and most recent ones to join the European Union (EU), social acceptance of LGBT people is still lagging far behind that of its other EU neighbors. Profiling a leading radio personality, who came out during the filming of the story, and a lesbian couple, where one of the partners lost her job as a teacher, the segment examines what it was like to come out in Poland between 2005-2007, and during the ultra-conservative rule of the Kaczynski brothers.

It is an amazing look at what many gays and lesbians must go through in Poland and other conservative European countries. A definite highlight that should not be missed.

Camp Oneida

Camp Oneida looks at the tight-knit communities that develop at rural gay campgrounds. It's a trend that's blossomed over the past few years, with nearly 100 camps around the country. Through the personal stories of five men, this story explores body image, finding community away from the city, aging, and love.

It is a fun, insightful piece about finding community and family in unexpected places.

Kathleen Turner interviews playwright Edward Albee

There is also an interesting interview with Kathleen Turner and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee. It is interesting to watch (and not just because Kathleen Turner seems like she has been soaked in Bourbon for about 50 years and smoked her way through about millions of cigarettes).

These two theatrical workhorses dish about themselves, and talk about Albee's plays, the reviews, his sources of inspiration, and what he considers the emerging "commercialism" of Broadway theatre. All-in-all an entertaining interview.

Where to catch it

I definitely encourage everyone to catch this episode. Like all of the IN THE LIFE series, it covers a lot of ground and has something for everyone.

IN THE LIFE can be seen on American public television stations (like LOGO), and is available on the Web for streaming and as free downloadable podcasts. To learn more about when Challenging Convention will be airing in your area, or to watch past episodes, go to: www.inthelifetv.org.

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Thanks for the review, Waymon. This sounds really interesting. Now I want to get the penguin book for my nieces, seeing as their parents just LOVED The Sissy Duckling. NOT! But I can always keep it at my house for the off-chance the girls come for a visit, can't I?

It's funny - when I went to bed last night, In the Life was on as I was drifting off. I only watched about 3.5 minutes before nodding off (My God, I was tired last night!) but as I did I wondered if it was the same episode Waymon had reviewed.