BROKEN HEART LAND
BROKEN HEART LAND
A compelling new documentary is bringing a platform to an important and heartbreaking story that took place in the American heartland.
Coinciding with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, "Broken Heart Land" aims to bring awareness to HIV/AIDs awareness, the dangers of schools lacking comprehensive sex education programs and the struggle for rights for the LGBT community in the conservative American Heartland. The film follows the story of Zack Harrington, a gay teen who committed suicide one week after attending a local city council meeting in support of a proposal for LGBT History Month in his small town.
"Even though we live in a slightly more progressive world where gay rights issues and HIV/AIDS education have made notable strides in many large cities, Zack's tragic story is representative of hundreds of young gay teens all over Bible Belt, conservative small towns across America who are still wrestling with feelings of shame," Directors Jeremy and Randy Stulberg said in a statement. "We hope that through the film we will be able to start a dialogue across the country in the same way that the Harringtons have done in Norman, Oklahoma and hopefully prevent future suicides from teens in smaller towns who may feel hopeless."
On an early autumn afternoon, in his parent’s ranch in Norman, Oklahoma, gay teen Zack Harrington killed himself with a gunshot to the head. One week earlier, Zack allegedly attended a local city council meeting in support of a proposal for LGBT History Month in his bible-belt town. When the floor was opened up for public comment, some community members made highly controversial statements equating being gay with the spread of diseases such as HIV and AIDS.
Against the backdrop of a town bitterly divided on the issue of homosexuality, Zack’s grief-stricken parents, both conservative Republicans and military veterans, are forced to reconcile their own social and political beliefs with their son’s death. Determined to understand Zack, they discover a private diary, which paints a gripping portrait of a boy in crisis. Ultimately, they discover a chilling secret that Zack kept hidden for almost two years, which leads them to some painful conclusions about their son’s life and death.
When an outspoken conservative citizen runs for City Council, the Harringtons decide to join a politically active group called “MOMS: Mothers of Many” (mainly comprised of local mothers of LGBTQ youth). Over the course of the local election season, we witness Zack’s family, once private and politically conservative, come out of their own closet, moving from private denial to a climactic and very public acceptance of their son’s legacy.