Angered by the 2016 election, a group of people get politically involved for the first time, to ban conversion therapy in Rhode Island
Selene Means is a filmmaker, photographer and activist here in Rhode Island who documented the passage of a bill banning the practice of conversion therapy for minors at the state legislature in 2017. The film is titled The Time is Already. After playing the festival circuit Means made the film available online and I’m presenting it here with permission.
Conversion therapy is the “practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation using various techniques involving drugs, surgery, shock treatment or psychotherapy/speech.”
The film isn’t just about the passage of a bill banning conversion therapy, though. It’s also an inside look at the process in the Rhode Island General Assembly, and about the existential angst of activists working hard to pass legislation that will protect children from the dangerous and immoral act of torturing them into heterosexuality. The importance of the legislation, which was submitted for three years before finally gaining approval, is contrasted with the ups and downs of the people who needed to see the bill passed.
One particularly frustrating event in the film came late in the legislative session. The conversion therapy bill passed the House and the Senate, but there were differences in language between the House and Senate versions. These differences needed to be reconciled, but Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello, in a fit of pique, shut down the General Assembly before the bills could be reconciled and revoted on, nearly scuttling the year long efforts of activists and elected officials. Fortunately, the Senate passed the House version of the bill, which allowed Governor Gina Raimondo the opportunity to sign the bill into law.
The film is also an intensely personal story about the filmmaker, Selene Means, who became an activist in the wake the election of Donald Trump.
You can watch the film here:
You can also see some of Selene Means’ excellent photos, taken during the General Assembly’s deliberation on the bill, here:
Finally, consider donating to Selene Mean’s future efforts as an artist here.