25, the Board of Film Independent, the not for profit
organization that produces both the Los Angeles Film Festival and the
Spirit Awards, announced the resignation of Los Angeles Film Festival
Director Richard Raddon after it was revealed that he had given $1500
to the Yes-On-8 campaign. Raddon has become the latest casualty of a
post-election Proposition 8 Hollywood war of retribution.
Gay activists have been protesting the
passage of Proposition 8 – the California Constitutional amendment
that yanked back the right of gays and lesbians to marry in the state
– since Election Day.
And that new “no more Mr. Nice Gay”
mentality appears to be taking root in Hollywood, where many believe
that there is no room for anti-gay bigotry in an industry that
promotes itself as a proponent of diversity and employs a large
number of openly gay and lesbian people.
Raddon's first attempt to resign was
met with an unanimous rejection by the board, but the controversy
would not die down. Resentment simmered as people inside and outside
of Hollywood pointed to the group's explicit mission to promote
“Is it OK to let this go?”
distributor Howard Cohen, an advisor to the film festival who is gay,
told the Los Angeles Times after the board rejected Raddon's
first resignation attempt. “There are a lot of gay people who work
at Film Independent. The issue has not been closed.”
Director Gregg Araki, long considered a
favorite among gay cult film fans for such gems as Mysterious
Skin, agreed Raddon should walk away.
“I don't think he should be forcibly
removed,” he said. “The bottom line is if he contributed money
to a hateful campaign against black people, or against Jewish people,
or any other minority group, there would be much less excusing him.
The terrible irony is that he runs a film festival that is intended
to promote tolerance and equality.”
Also out is Scott Eckern, director of
the not for profit California Musical Theatre in Sacramento, who
donated $1,000 to Yes-On-8. Eckern resigned in early November after
gay activists and Hollywood insiders protested his anti-gay marriage
donation. Gay bloggers keen on exposing donors to the gay marriage
ban, chided Eckern for his apparent hypocrisy.
On the gay activism website
goodasyou.org, Jeremy Hooper
noted: “California Music Theatre, billed as Nothern CA's
'premiere producer and presenter of musical theatre', is currently
putting on The Color Purple, a show all about discrimination.
... Make your musical theatre choices wisely, CA gays!”
apology that came a few days later, did little to satisfy anyone.
“I honestly had no idea that this
would be the reaction,” Eckern said in a statement. “I chose to
act upon my beliefs that the traditional definition of marriage
should be preserved. I support each individual to have rights and
access and I understood that in California domestic partnerships come
with the same rights that come with marriage.”
Bloggers have also called for a boycott
of the Sundance Film Festival because it is held in the Mormon
stronghold of Utah. Gay activists blame the Mormon Church for tipping
approval of Proposition 8, and single out Mormon members who nearly
single-handedly bankrolled the opposition to gay marriage.
“The direct involvement of the Mormon
Church – moving donors in a very short window to give early – was
stunning,” Patrick Guerriero, campaign manager of No-On-8, told
But the notion of a boycott against a
highly pro-gay institution because it operates in the heart of Mormon
territory has gained little traction.
“If there is one festival that has
supported queer cinema from the start, it's Sundance,” Marcus Hu,
president of Strand Releasing, the largest gay-themed film distributor
in the United States, told the Los Angeles Times. “Sundance
has been, first and foremost, people who have been discovering and
fostering young gay talent.”
What motivated Eckers and Raddon to
donate money to a measure they surely knew would hurt many of their
colleagues and friends we may be left only to speculate; neither is
“As many know, I consider myself a
devout and faithful Mormon. I prefer to keep the details around my
contribution through my church a private matter,” Raddon said in a
statement announcing his departure. “But I am profoundly sorry for
the negative attention that my actions have drawn to Film Independent
and for the hurt and pain that is being experienced in the GLBT [gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender] community.”