The Sunflower

Documentary succeeds with powerful storytelling

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In December 2011, journalist Adam Knapp wrote a newspaper story called “There’s only one Burt,” which detailed the story of Burt Humburg, an All-American football player who played at Southwestern College in Winfield.

Humburg, originally from Andover, spoke to Knapp about his coming out as a gay man. In addition, Knapp spoke to Humburg’s former pastor Joe Wright, who successfully lobbied for Kansas to ban gay marriage in 2005.

Knapp published the story in the Andover American, which Knapp was editor-in-chief of, but the story was not finished. The two differing viewpoints inspired Knapp to write and direct a documentary called “Out Here in Kansas.”

The documentary had its premiere Tuesday night to a crowd of about 165 people at Roxy’s Downtown. The film lasted about 30 minutes and was followed by a question and answer session with Knapp and others involved in the documentary.

Like every journalist does when covering the news, the documentary presents both sides of the argument. In this case, it tells the story of Humburg and Wright and their differing viewpoints on homosexuality. It also includes testimony from other LGBTQIA+ people and their relationships with Christianity.

Showing all sides of the argument in the documentary works successfully in carrying out the film’s intent: to open up the minds of its audience to the other side of the argument.

Whether you’re in support of rights for gay and lesbian people, or you do not support their rights, the film allows you to ponder your stance and consider the other’s.

One of the most powerful elements of the documentary is its use of storytelling. By using testimonials from real people, it helps to illustrate the differing viewpoints and why people have them.

The best part of the documentary, though, is its ending. To give it away would take away from the experience of seeing it for the first time. I will say this: it came as close as possible to bringing a tear to my eyes, something that happens rarely.

Regardless of your stance on LGBTQIA+ rights, this film is for you. Consider the other side of the argument when watching it and watch with an open mind. You may just learn a thing or two.

The documentary will be screened several more times later this year. You can find screening dates at brainofburt.blogspot.com, or on the “Out Here in Kansas” Facebook and Twitter pages.

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About the Writer
TJ Rigg, Reporter/Copy Editor

TJ Rigg has worked for The Sunflower since August 2012, when he started as a general assignment reporter. Eventually, he added additional responsibilities of copy editing stories and taking photos for assignments before being named Editor-in-Chief in March 2014. He served in the position for a year before resuming his responsibilities as a reporter and copy editor. Under his leadership, The Sunflower earned the All-Kansas award at the 2015 Kansas Collegiate Media conference. The award is the highest level award a newspaper staff can receive at the conference. In addition to The Sunflower, he was written stories for other publications including The Butler County Times Gazette, Andover American, Flint Hills Media Project and more. Rigg also works for KWCH 12 Eyewitness News, the CBS-affiliate in Wichita, as an associate producer. He helps other producers with their shows by writing stories, building graphics, editing video, etc. He also fills in and produces shows as needed and contributes to the station website and social media pages. After college, he plans to continue his work with Eyewitness News as a news producer, with the ultimate goal of producing the 10 p.m. weeknight newscast.

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