Monday, February 21, 2011
ANTHONY GIOFFRE and GARY RADER:
They’re Gay, They’re Married and They Do Video
interview by MARK GABRISH CONLAN
Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved
It seems that the politics of marriage equality for same-sex couples are inescapable even when all you’re doing is trying to make a living. For Anthony Gioffre and Gary Rader, marriage is both part of their private life — they “made it legal” on June 17, 2008, the first day they legally could during California’s 4 ½-month period of enlightenment before the passage of Proposition 8 snatched this civil right from us — and their business plan. They started their video production company, Golden Lodestar, to serve the niche market for documenting same-sex weddings, only to be so overcome by Prop. 8 that for a while they couldn’t bear working at or attending any weddings, Queer or straight.
They’ve become fixtures at local events — they filmed some of the marriage equality protests as well as the February 5 meeting of the Hillcrest Town Council, where openly Gay Republican City Councilmember Carl DeMaio and three others faced off about the city’s budget crisis — and they’re still working in video production as their main livelihood. Zenger’s caught up with them last January and interviewed them as part of San Diego’s alternative media.
Gary Rader and Anthony Gioffre of Golden Lodestar Productions can be reached at (619) 563-6225 or through their Web site, www.goldenlodestarproductions.com
Zenger’s: What exactly is Golden Lodestar Productions, and why did you folks start it?
Anthony Gioffre: We first started Golden Lodestar Productions as a wedding videography business to serve the LGBT [Queer] community. Knowing that that could either go or stay, we did have a Plan B, which was just simply to serve the LGBT community in various video projects. To define and specify our mission was simply to serve the LGBT community, in that doing a lot of charity work, and that’s what we mean by “serving.”
We are, of course, for profit We are seeking the LGBT video production business and offering ourselves specialized video production company which is familiar with this particular market: the age group, the issue, what the message is to this particular buying group, and whatnot. We feel we have some insight into the buyer.
Zenger’s: Why don’t you tell me a little about yourselves and how you got into this business?
Gary Rader: I’ve been doing audio stuff for years. Back in 1986 I got a little eight-track open-reel deck and a little soundboard, and I was recording my own songs. Then the computer age came along, things got a lot simpler, and I went to all-digital music. And friend of mine who makes little films showed me his software one day, and I started getting into it. Things just kind of fell into place after that. I bought my own camera, and then it evolved into weddings. I quit my old job. I used to be a phlebotomist — I’m still a phlebotomist, but I didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to do something artsy and more meaningful for me. Video and film just evolved out of that, and I love it.
Gioffre: I have a background in acting, teaching, and talent management, and also marketing. So to put that all to work for the camera required minimal technical knowledge from me. I’m more creative and outspoken, for the company and for different causes — Transgender, family issues.
Rader: It’s evolving all the time.
Gioffre: I volunteer for Family Matters. On Friday morning we do a music group — I do a music group there, and we sing all kinds of songs, “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, and try to carry the tradition into the next generation. And of course the moms and dads love it. We also give some financial support to Family Matters. I still do local theatre. I just finished Tales of Chelm with Kronos Theatre Group. There are so many different projects going on.
Rader: I’m the technical computer guy.
Gioffre: And I do the writing, the focusing on scripts. We now have one movie script and a Web series and two plays on my desk, as well as video projects for sdgln.com, the online news network, in which we are producing a weekly news roundup on video with Ben Cartwright, who’s the staff writer for nonprofits.
Zenger’s: Is this how you make your living?
Gioffre: Primarily, yes.
Rader: It does get a little rough sometimes.
Gioffre: It has been difficult over the last couple of years, with the economy, with the direction of the company, with doing a lot of service work — which is not a problem, because —
Rader: — it usually leads into paid work. You never know who you’re going to meet, what the needs are. It’s an adventure.
Gioffre: We’ve provided Latino Services with film.
Rader: We did the “Mi Familia” thing. That’s what we just finished.
Gioffre: We do a lot of work for the San Diego Unified school system, for the Music Club, MUSIQ, through the Bayfield Foundation. Music Club goes into the schools and teaches them the science between music and notes and whatnot. We film it for them, and they play it on their break, so they can study during their break from school. So We give them all a DVD from the direction of their teacher, Bill Bailey, and we’re working on some continuing video projects with him.
Rader: I like to do little Web commercials for people. I’ve done a couple for some businesses here in town, where you feature your business and your face in video that you can put on your Web site, two or three minutes, introducing yourself and your features, and what you do, and how you are. Video is unique because it shows all aspects: what you sound like, how you act, what you look like, what your personality’s like.
I like to tell stories. I want to make some short inspirational kinds of films that get people thinking and make you feel good — only with truth instead of fantasy. Hopefully the business will become such that we’ll be able to do the things we like to do like that. Plus reporting things is fun.
Zenger’s: I notice we are all wearing wedding rings.
Rader: We were married on June 17, 2008, the very first day we legally could, just for the hell of it, O.K.
Gioffre: We did some wonderful weddings. We did 10 weddings in October alone. October was the hot time; everyone was rushing to get married before the election. But we did some ceremonies and some parties that were endearing, and they were so special that when voters voted to stop Gay marriage in California, there were three of me, because I was definitely beside myself. At least two of me.
Because here’s the thing: we continued to do weddings after that, and to watch other people celebrating that we did celebrate, but that other people could not celebrate, was so damaging to my soul — I don’t know about Gary, but it was damaging to my soul — that we stopped doing them, not from a discriminatory place but because we just became very disinterested in weddings as a whole, until we all can get married. When we all can get married, then we’ll join in the celebration again.
Rader: Not that we would want to deny anyone.
Gioffre: No, we don’t deny business. We don’t deny anybody’s happiness. We found ourselves unhappy covering those types of situations, so we moved on.
Rader: But we still do commitment celebrations.
Gioffre: And we can’t wait until it comes back. We cannot wait. I’ve continued my promotion of our business as same-sex wedding specialists through the last two years nonstop, three years, with my flyers. I had boxes and boxes of flyers left over, and I keep advertising, because it’s our picture on the flyer, and I’m happy to have celebrated the right to marry.
Zenger’s: Any thoughts on the latest development in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger suit: the U.S. Appeals Court bouncing it back to the state supreme court for clarification on whether the proponents have standing.
Gioffre: I oftentimes wonder why it’s crawling at a snail’s pace. It’s really all the legalese. They’re trying to cover all bases to finally put the law in force, so there’s no future argument. I also think they’re bouncing the ball back and forth to each other, and nobody really wants to claim it.
Rader: It seems like they’re bouncing it into a corner, where we’re going to win. They’re going to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s ridiculous not to allow Gay people to marry, and there will be no legal ledge to stand on for the proponents of Prop. 8.
Gioffre: I don’t understand why it takes three years to sort that all out, personally.
Rader: Considering how long some things could take, hope. It’s looking good, as far as I can see. Because there will be a war — it won’t be pretty.
Gioffre: There will be civil unrest, I believe, at this point. I come from a very outspoken political background in New York, ACT UP New York, ACT UP San Francisco. I’ve had to retract some things I’ve said, because we were caught up in the moment.
Zenger’s: Is there anything else you want to say about your video business, where it’s going?
Gioffre: We’ve been working with the community and preparing to become media partners with a few news outlets to provide video that they could couple with stories.
Rader: Like on the Internet, so they could have their text story and then they could have a complementary video to it.
Gioffre: Video highlight of it.
Rader: So we’re conducting a series of interviews.
Gioffre: I’m conducting a series of interviews —
Rader: — that I film —
Gioffre: — that Gary is producing. I’m the interviewer. We did retired army colonel Stewart Bornhoft, which is available \on our Facebook page at Golden Lodestar. And I have three interviews scheduled with people of major interest to the Gay community in southern California, addressing such issues as bullying, “don’t ask, don’t tell” —
Rader: Equal rights and marriage equality.
Gioffre: Well, actually I don’t have an interview scheduled about marriage equality. Different community leaders from here and Los Angeles, and to promote well-being in the LGBT community in San Diego.
Zenger’s: Any plans to do more about Bisexual and Transgender people? I attend the Bisexual Forum fairly regularly and I joke that bisexuality is now the love that dare not speak its name.
Rader: I would love to do a day in the life of a Transgender or Transsexual person, and from their point of view. I’ve met so many Gay people that are surprisingly —
Rader: — biased, prejudiced or disgusted by what they don’t understand. It’s basically the same thing as —
Gioffre: They think the Transgenders and Bisexuals ¬are going to stand in the way of Gay rights, because Transgender is the new Gay. We were at a public forum last night about violence in the Gay community in San Diego. One of the questions that was raised were that the Transgender were just added to —
Rader: — the legal definition of what constitutes a hate crime, I think.
Gioffre: And what I brought up was that if it ultimately lies in the hands of a jury of our peers, a decision as to whether something was a hate crime or not, if a jury of our peers doesn’t even know what Transgender is, how are they going to be able to decipher whether or not a crime has been committed? So if we can produce projects that expose the realities of Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Bisexual, you know —
Rader: Right. You put a face and then feelings towards those kinds of real-life situations that are kind of freaky to people that don’t understand it until you see it and get used to it. You don’t think of “us” as people, really.
Gioffre: I don’t see it as prejudice, really.
Rader: It’s easy to condemn somebody you don’t know or don’t understand, that aren’t right in front of you. I’ve found that I run in a couple of different circles, and one of them is a predominantly heterosexual, undereducated — sort of unenlightened — group of people. When these social issues like Gay marriage and all of that come up, and they’re awfully vocal about it, and they don’t realize they’re saying it to, right in front of, a Gay man who’s married, I always wait for them to finish their little piece, and then I love to show them my wedding ring, and go, “You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but you should know you’re talking to a married Gay man about that issue that you’re so against.”
I’ve done that at least twice, and one guy just went, “Everybody’s against me! I’m not staying here,” and he turned around and walked out, because he was just too overwhelmed by the fact that, “Oh, my God! These are real people? I know one?” There was a time when I would not have said anything, and hid, but I don’t do that anymore — damnit. The other guy’s a pretty good friend now. He’s sort of changed his opinion about the whole issue, because he knows somebody.
Gioffre: Actually, he knows more than he realizes.
Rader: That’s why I think it’s important for us to become more visible, more “out,” and kind of be on our best behavior as much as possible, to show them that we’re like real people, too.