WSU graduate documents social change in Kansas

Even after graduation, Shockers continue to shock the world and bring social change.

For Adam Knapp, a 1993 Wichita State graduate, the change never stops happening.

“I never really entered college with the thought that I was going to graduate,” Knapp said. “I just thought it would be fun [attending].”

Originally finding his way to WSU on a vocal music scholarship, Knapp discovered his love of storytelling, and began working at the Sunflower as a sports writer and the sports editor.

“I just loved it,” Knapp said. “I just kinda built up the staff around me as I did other endeavors.”

His other endeavors later took him to to the Wichita Eagle, KWCH 12 Eyewitness News and the Andover American newspaper, a newspaper he started.

Today, Knapp is making headlines in a different manner — he is directing and producing a documentary titled Out Here in Kansas, a film based on the story of Burt Humburg, a gay Iowa physician who grew up in Andover, Kansas.

Humburg also found himself directly facing the battle for marriage equality in Kansas.

Early connections     

While working at the Wichita Eagle, Knapp first met Humburg while covering local sports. Humburg, a local football star who came from a non-athletic background, caught the attention of local coaches, football fans and sports reporters, including Knapp.     

Later, Knapp heard Humburg was gay, a crucial part to the story he was trying to tell.

“I was really thinking that was a missed opportunity,” Knapp said. “But, as fate would have it, I got that opportunity several years later.”

Religious convictions

For Knapp and Humburg, the football connection was not the only similarity they shared.

They were both Christians, and, Humburg, who looked up to his pastor Joe Wright, was at the front of an enormous controversy — Wright played a crucial role in the campaigning for legislation in 2005 to ban same-sex marriage and limit legal rights for gay couples.

Even as a devout Christian, Knapp felt there was an opportunity to educate others on the issue.

“I think that if you take someone who is gay and tell them the could change, you are asking for huge trouble,” Knapp said.

“I didn’t think a written article would be enough to tell the story — a big, visual platform was needed.”     

Visual storytelling     

As Knapp and his team finish “Out Here in Kansas,” they are expecting to release the film later this year.

One part of the film that Knapp is asking the public to help with is the sharing of their own coming out stories.

“Through Vimeo and YouTube, we are encouraging individuals to tell us their stories about coming out,” he said. “It is a big part of what we are doing.”

The team is also hosting a fundraiser on IndieGoGo to help fund some of the operating costs of the film.     

Overall, though, through the film, Knapp hopes his efforts spur conversation, thought and change, ideals he learned as a student at WSU.     

“I guess that I am trying to induce discussion and encourage more people to come out of the closet,” he said. “I think that is the way God made them,”