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Family Values 

by Leah Sottile

If you're having trouble conceiving a child, the last place that you'd likely look for ways to quell your woes would probably be the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. On the other hand, who better to learn from on how to deal with conception troubles than two women?

Spokane residents Susan and Tonya Lyons have been a couple for 11 years. About three years into their relationship, they decided they wanted to start a family. Doctors informed them that it typically takes about three attempts for artificial insemination to work. For the Lyonses, however, it took four years, 14 attempts and three anonymous sperm donors. Their story is told in The Lyons: A Real Family, a documentary set to show at this weekend's film festival.

"It was a roller coaster of emotions, especially when you think you're going to find out you're pregnant around Christmas," Susan explained in an interview with the documentary's director, Frank Hays, "and then you get the phone call explaining that you're not pregnant. Let me tell you, Christmas is not the same."

"The hope that we would one day conceive pulled Tonya and me through all the disappointments," she says.

And after all of their waiting, Susan and Tonya finally were pregnant. With triplets.

After watching the Lyons go through so much heartache, Hays decided to make the 30-minute documentary about their plight.

"This film is about determination," he says. "It captures the emotions, and hardships of a loving couple unwilling to accept defeat in the process of starting a family."

"The Lyons and I hope this film inspires others who are thinking about creating a family or have had difficulties with conception," he adds.

The Lyonses' inspiring story and those of many others will be told this weekend at the film festival. On Saturday, Road to Love will show on the festival screens, telling a romantic tale of self-discovery while looking at the fascinating historical views of homosexuality in North Africa.

One Wedding and a Revolution documents the lives of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon on the days leading up to their marriage at City Hall this year in San Francisco. The two women had recently celebrated their 51st anniversary, and were the first couple to tie the knot in last year's homosexual wedding rush in San Francisco. Their story will screen on Friday night at 7 pm.

On Saturday night, Gay Pioneers will show, documenting the first organized homosexual rights demonstrators of the 1960s. In a time when few were bold enough to admit their sexual orientation, 40 individuals publicly protested for their rights for the first time in history.

Yet while the inspirational stories are great, this weekend's film festival will feature a lot of solid entertainment, too. On Friday night, Drag Queen Heist, the latest from the director who took home last year's Audience Choice Award, shows the hilarious story of two men who decide to rob a bank - as women. Dildo Diaries, a film observing the Texas State Legislature's decision to make dildos illegal, will also show that night. In this amusing film, people examine why such a decision would have been made, with one woman noting the absurdity of such a law in a state where concealed weapons are legal.

"Who has ever been killed with a dildo?" she asks.

Musical fantasies, gory mysteries, lesbian fashions - they're all here at this weekend's film festival. Being entertained is, without question, a guarantee. But you might be surprised by this weekend's festival: All silliness aside, you might just learn something.

Spokane's sixth Annual Gay and Lesbian Film Festival will be on Friday, Nov. 5, at 7 pm, and on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 3 pm and 7 pm. Tickets: $8; $5, students and matinee; $12, two shows; $10, two-show ticket for students; $15, all three shows; $12, three-show ticket for students. Riverpoint EWU Auditorium, 665 N. Riverpoint Blvd. Call 216-0366.

Publication date: 11/04/04

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