Last night I attended CONNECT’s Men’s Roundtable. It’s a monthly gathering for men, primarily those who work with men and boys on a day-to-day basis. It was only the third Roundtable I’ve been to, but I certainly plan on going to many more.
I held back tears – ’cause I still have issues crying publicly, even in a men’s group – when I heard folks being so open and honest about their struggles as fathers and partners. Two older gentlemen started the night off by talking about their role in abuse, as both victims and agents. That really set the tone for openness and positive change. Let’s just say that there were some folks that really needed to be there – including myself – and who were getting on the right track by being in a place where they can get help and support.
I was also privileged to present the rough cut of “House Devil, Street Angel” last night. And while my underlying intention as a personal filmmaker was to have this doc be used for social change in settings just like this one, it was still astounding to take part in the process. Quentin Walcott, or Q, led the evening’s discussion about fatherhood – and we screened the film after about an hour of talking. After the film played, I was honored to hear people both appreciate it and use it as a jumping off point for dialogue, as we dug deeper into our roles as men and fathers. I intellectually know that films can be used as tools for change, but now I am emotionally aware of that fact.
Finally, I was psyched to converse and learn from men who are change agents – folks whose work I greatly admire – like Marlon Walker of CONNECT and Joe Samalin of Men Can Stop Rape which “seeks to mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.” After all, rape is a deadly serious issue that is not isolated from the web of society. It comes from a culture of violence – and one that we as men must work to change.