"Unbanned" documentary a reminder of HIllsborough's ban on gay pride endorsements
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01/06/12 Atecia Robinson
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"Unbanned," a short film about Hillsborough County Commissioners' attempts to censor an LGBT display in a public library.


photo by Mike Madison

Some residents are still upset nearly seven years after Hillsborough Commissioners voted to ban the endorsement of Gay pride events in the county. A documentary about that controversy, called “Unbanned” was screened for fifteen people Thursday night in Harbor Island.

In 2005 Former County Commissioner Ronda Storms was disturbed by a book display honoring gay pride in a Town and Country library. That led to a ban on the county endorsing gay pride events, which still angers People in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community and their allies. Daphney Street, a freelance writer in Hillsborough County, called the documentary powerful.

“I recall when the censorship issue arose. I’m a native to the Tampa Bay area and I’m really moved at the fact that that was documented and that people are really taking this seriously. The moment we’re not paying attention and these problems arise is the moment where we start losing more and more of our rights.”

Charles Perkins ran for Tampa City Council last year. He said the gay and lesbian community is politically disorganized and they should make better use of their voting power.

“I don’t understand why people really haven’t tried to really put everyone together and say okay, this is my network of everyone, 'you’re gay, I’m gay, everyone’s gay' put them all together on the same page. We’re going to vote together as a block for this candidate who’s going to support our issues. Then vote against people who don’t support that! If they could do that then…you know everyone, never, ever, every single person I’ve ever known never can seem to come to terms with working together as a group. They do that in Key West, they’ll do that in Miami, but Tampa can’t seem to get that organization together where people can go and vote as a block, to vote someone out of office. To say “Hey look, you worked against us, well we’re going to get rid of you and we’re also going to financially support the candidate that’s going to go against you.”

Perkins said the Gay pride incident wasn’t the first or last time Storms prohibit freedom of expression.

“If you look at her, the longevity of Ronda Storms, she’s always been very censor-oriented by trying to ban different people’s freedom of speech. You can find at least ten different things she’s done in the past ten years to try to censor people from having the ability to express themselves.”

Storms did not respond to an interview request by deadline. Venus Jones, an independent poet, said she teaches her students at the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa to be non-judgmental towards others who are different.

“People calling other people 'gay' as if that is something that … well they’ve obviously already been taught that it’s wrong, or a reason to ostracize someone. So I try to do my best to let them know that it’s not God-like to be judgmental.”

The host, Cigar City Magazine, plans to show a different documentary each month at the "Buzz."

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