Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gay TV producer at center of Imboden controversy to speak in LR

Posted By on Sat, May 25, 2013 at 4:30 PM

COMING TO LR: Bryant Huddleston and his son Haven.
  • COMING TO LR: Bryant Huddleston, with his son Haven.
* REMEMBER IMBODEN? MEET THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE OF IT: I was happy to get this Facebook note today from Bryant Huddleston, the Imboden native and California TV producer, whose tentative invitation to speak at the Sloan-Hendrix High School graduation fell apart because a couple of School Board members (and many in the community apparently) didn't think it right to have a gay man speak to high school graduates, who included his sister. His father, a retired state trooper and school board member, suggested his son as a speaker. After board members objected, the school superintendent decided to have no outside speaker, breaking a long tradition of speakers that included a Church of Christ preacher and a representative of the local electric company office.

Huddleston has said his message would have been about the value of education and, in honor of his sister, urging women forward particularly. He said he hadn't intended to talk about sexual issues.

Huddleston reports:

Thrilled to announce Philander Smith College, in my home state of Arkansas, has officially invited me to be the keynote speaker for their 'Bless the Mic' series. I'll be heading to campus this fall. This invitation is probably one of the greatest gifts I'll ever receive. Because it speaks directly to the message. It speaks to how I hope most young people today think. They want a future free of any kind of silly intolerance that would get in the way of their personal achievements or those of their friends and family—gay or straight. I never in a million years thought I would become an advocate for change. I vote and I support causes that benefit my family, but I now believe my unfortunate situation was meant to be heard.

I'm also so grateful for the outpouring of love. I just wish my dad and members of my family would have received the same hug I received from people across the country but maybe this will come in time. I was moved that so many people from my past reached out (even an ex-girlfriend—oh yes I said it) but was shocked just how much my story spoke to complete strangers—coast to coast. Those hundreds of messages will be saved for my son. Haven deserves to hear about a letter his daddy wrote that made his Papaw and Aunt Madi proud and sparked an important conversation. Thank You!

I'm happy to say I played a small role in putting Philander together with Huddleston. I'll have details on his appearance in the Bless the Mic lecture series when it's firmed up.

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