The coming out experience coupled with the high school experience can be very dangerous. Teenagers, especially those in middle school and early high school, can be very vicious and unforgiving. I don't think anyone in our community will be able to forget seeing headline after headline about gay teens committing suicide in the last few years. You could barely check CNN online without seeing another notice of a gay teen taking his or her life. The bullying pandemic is discussed in the documentary Same Difference, and the film is currently still looking for funding.
Difference mainly focuses on two very difference gay high school students. Graeme Taylor seems like a very articulate young man, and he is surrounded by a very loving, supportive environment. He has friends that support him, and it appears that he is very open. His experience is compared with the high school experience of Justin Aaberg, a 15 year-old Minnesota teen who hanged himself in 2010. Aaberg was one of nine students who committed suicide between 2009 and 2011 in the Anoka-Hennepin school district. The fact that nine students took their own lives is unfathomable. The Minnesota state health officials deemed the district as a 'suicide contagion.' Same Difference also delves into the investigation that followed in the school district.
The two young men featured in the film: Taylor and Aaberg, respectively.
I briefly chatted with the director and producer of Same Difference, Josh Sweeny. I actually know Josh from college (when I was an awkward theater major and he was a not-so-awkward dance major), and I know he's been working on Difference for a while. When I asked him what drove him to make this movie, Sweeny said:
"When I was a teen I was afraid people were going to stop loving me. I had the hardest time coming out...so much shame. Being gay is the number one best part of my life, and it's led all of my best experiences. I want little boys and girls to have the chance of going through the coming out phase without any shame. That's why I made this film. Someday soon, the majority of queer kids are going to tell their parents with excitement and joy instead of fear. I want to be part of that shift.
As of right now, Same Difference is short of its funding goal of $135,000. Sweeny, along with co-prodcer and cinematographer Kyle Wentzel, have a donation page on IndieGoGo. You can watch the trailer for Same Difference on their donation page. At the end of the trailer, Sweeny and Wentzel go into more detail about what the money is going towards. The trailer looks really emotionally engaging, and, hopefully, Same Difference can earn some more support. You can also like their Facebook page, and follow the film on Twitter.