To bring awareness to bullying, Zach Halliwell produced and directed the video ‘We Must
Thousands of people around the world are bullied every day over their real or perceived sexual identity. To escape the pain of being bullied many resort to ending their life because they feel they have no one to turn to or nowhere to go. In response to such behavior a group of students created a video with a simple message. We must love one another.
UW-Stevens Point student, Zach Young, directed and produced the “We Must Love One Another” video in an effort to raise awareness of the outcome of bullying that affects thousands of people around the world, especially in regards to sexual identity.
The idea for the video came from Young’s attendance of UWSP’s production of “The Normal Heart” in the spring of 2012. “The Normal Heart” is about a group of gay men and a female doctor who are trying to raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s in New York City. Theatre professor, Steve Trovillian-Smith directed the show.
“Since the play was written almost 30 years ago and since homophobia is still something the LGBT community is confronted with daily, even on this campus, I wanted to write a prologue and an epilogue that introduced the story and made the point that this is still an issue today,” Smith said. “I also wanted to make the point that if you listen to this hate language or stand by when someone else commits a hate crime, then you are guilty as well.”
Young attended the show and enjoyed the message it gave. With the permission of Smith, Young took the material written for the prologue and epilogue and adapted it for the video. Actors on campus were then requested to be a part of the production.
Production for the video took about a month and a half consisting of weeks of finding actors that would be willing to read the script, filming each scene and then putting it all together through the editing process.
“The main message I wanted to convey to the audience was the need to stop sitting by and allowing hatred and intolerance to be perpetuated in our society. There are too many people that die every year from suicide brought on by bullying because of their sexual identity or orientation,” Young said.
The video also conveyed, according to Young, that bullying is a two-way street. Young explains that witnessing someone being bullied, or someone saying or doing something offensive, makes you no better than the person who is doing the bullying.
“It’s time for people to stand up for one another, to love each other and defend each other. If more people showed how much they care for one another, then maybe people who are struggling will be able to see how beautiful and wonderful they are and how much they are needed,” Young said.
The video hopes to instill a sense of equality and hope to those who are being bullied and hopes to help people understand how serious of an issue this still is today. For those involved in the production, the video is something personal and real. Both Young and theatre student, Lindsey Paquette have personal reasons for their participation.
“As an openly pansexual person, this video hit close to home. I have been bullied and bashed for who I am, yet I still fight for the equality that I am denied for no reason,” Paquette said. “Don’t bully someone for something they have no control over – orientation is not a choice. Stop bullying and stand up for those who can’t. It’s as easy as that.”
“I identify as a gay man, so this topic is woven into the thread of my very existence. It’s something I deal with every day and I’ve made it a personal goal in life to make sure I do anything and everything I can to make this world a better place. A safer place where people don’t have to worry or hide,” Young said.
Young also included information leading to The Trevor Project in the video. The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ youth with crisis management and suicide prevention.
“If you are thinking about suicide, tell someone. If you can’t get yourself to tell someone then call The Trevor Project,” Paquette said. “So many people are out there to help. If you’re breathing right now, then you’re meant to be alive.”
Within the first few days of its release, the video has reached nearly 2,000 views and continues to increase. Young hopes to spread the link as far as possible on multiple platforms so that as many people as possible will see and spread the message he is trying to convey.
“Look at the people around you. Stop, and really look at them. Each person is different. Each person is going through their own struggles and battles. There are so many beliefs out there. So many religions, philosophies, cultures and mindsets. But in all of that, one thing remains true: We are all human and we all deserve love,” Young said.