Waymon Hudson

Review- In the Life's "Leading the Way"

Filed By Waymon Hudson | May 24, 2008 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment, Gay Icons and History, Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: In The Life, Judy Shepard, Massachusetts, Nepal, Xanadu

IN THE LIFE, the three-time Emmy Award nominated program documenting the lives and experiences of LGBT people nationally and abroad, presents its new June episode- "Leading the Way"- just in time for Pride Month. I was again lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the episode (one of the many perks of writing for Bilerico).

While I have always been a fan of ITL, this episode was truly something special. I found myself watching the entire show more than a few times, moved by the stories and people it profiled.

One of the most amazing parts of the episode was the interview with Sunil Plant, the founder of the LGBT rights group Blue Diamond Society in Nepal. Plant was recently elected to the Nepalese Parliament, becoming the first openly gay person to be elected in the country. Also featured was a moving interview with Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard's mother.

Much more review after the jump...

One of my favorite things about ITL is the diversity of the segments in each episode. There is truly something for every part of our community. "Leading the Way" featured 5 smaller segments, all of them amazing and interesting in completely different ways. Here's a breakdown from this amazing episode:


Advances in basic rights for LGBT people are happening in some surprising places. During the summer of 2007, IN THE LIFE gave Scott Long of Human Rights Watch a home video camera to document his travels to Nepal. He came back with some truly powerful stories from LGBT people working for change and visibility in this South Asian nation.

This episode was truly eye-opening. It featured amazing stories of LGBT people living in Nepal. From the discrimination and harassment at the hands of the government and police to the hardship faced by the trans community living there, this segment will give you a new perspective on what it means to be LGBT abroad. It also features a great in-depth look at Nepal's newest member of Parliament, the openly gay Sunil Plant.


Around the world, nations such as Spain, Canada, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Norway, South Africa, and the Czech Republic have all adopted legal forms of same-sex unions like marriage and domestic partnerships. This segment looks at the battle for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, one of the few states where such unions are recognized.

This segment provided an amazing insight into the historic circumstances surrounding the Massachusetts marriage battle. Watching the video and pictures of people breaking down when the announcement about marriage is made will bring you to tears. It is a phenomenal look at an amazing moment in LGBT history. The segment takes on even more meaning after the recent California Supreme Court decision for marriage equality. It's a firsthand look at a defining moment in our fight for equal rights.


In the world of theater nothing is grander than opera--big sets, big voices, big stories, big egos. In this larger-than-life world, openly lesbian director Francesca Zambello has long been a force to be reckoned with.

This is a fascinating look at a powerhouse in the opera world. Even if you aren't a fan of the opera, you'll be entertained by Zambello's candid interview and at the glimpse behind the scenes of this dramatic world.


Xanadu, the movie, became a cult classic even though it was a box-office flop. But Xanadu, the musical, has quickly become one of Broadway's surprise smash hits. IN THE LIFE goes behind-the-scenes of this colorful musical full of song, dance and, yes, roller skates.

I'll admit it, even as a theater buff I cringed when I heard Xanadu was on Broadway. But this lively look at the show (and its good-looking cast) has made me a believer. It had me getting out my silver jumpsuit and skates in no time flat.


IN THE LIFE host Michael Billy talks with Judy Shepard, ten years after her son Matthew was brutally murdered in Laramie, Wyoming. Since then, she has become a champion for education, social justice and pride.

In perhaps the most moving segment ever featured on In The Life, Judy Shepard talks about her son, her loss, and her mission against hate crimes on the tenth anniversary of Matthew's murder. Her strength in the interview, and her compassion when even the host is moved to tears, is truly a testament to her drive and commitment.

This episode is an amazing example of the diversity of our community and experience. From tragedy to triumph - from how far we've come to how far we have to go - this episode truly leaves you with an overwhelming sense of pride.

To find out when In The Life is showing in your area, or to make sure it is playing on your local public broadcasting station, visit the website.

You won't be disappointed.

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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 24, 2008 8:41 AM

Kudos Waymon, it sounds great! Now, can I get it on the internet? *smiles*

You can go to the In The Life Website and see some of the back episodes and see a preview of June's.

I think they are expanding to have a stronger online presence and availablitly, so I'll be sure to update you and the rest of the Projectors as they do that!

It really was a great episode!

Judy Shephard is such an inspiration. I don't know that I could ask for leniency for someone who killed someone that I love.