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Update: The actress we enjoy and the event we do not

by Jeremy Hooper

Earlier this week, we expressed discomfort over actress Shorheh Aghdashloo's decision to appear at the upcoming Values Voters Summit, an annual Family Research Council event where shunning gay rights is as much on the docket as praising Ronald Reagan (see video from last year's summit, here and here). Well, we're happy to announce two promising developments on that front.

#1 -- Ms. Aghdashloo's picture has been removed from the Values Voters Summit's promotional materials:

Partial 'Values Voters' lineup as of 9/9 (Google cache):

Picture 7-129

Partial 'Values Voters' lineup as of today:

Picture 8-102

So to us, this would indicate that the problems with being connected to this event are not lost on the actress' camp.

-- We have received a response from Team Aghdashloo, who has given us more insight into the nature of Shohreh's appearance:

On behalf of Shorheh Aghdashloo, thank you so much for your note and your support. I wanted to point out that the purpose of Shohreh’s appearance at this conference is to show her film, “The Stoning of Soraya M,” which is a true story about an innocent woman in Iran sentenced to death by stoning.

As an actress, Shohreh is so proud of this film and the powerful message it delivers, and she, along with the rest of the cast and filmmakers, are hopeful it inspires oppressed people - regardless of gender, race, political stance or sexuality - to overcome adversity and fight for change. It is vitally important to get the word out to whomever, wherever and whenever people will listen. This is a film where one wants to close one’s eyes...but we no longer can without risking becoming blind to injustice wherever it rears it’s ugly head.

The movie is being screened at various events around the country, sponsored by numerous organizations in an effort to share this inspiring story with as many people as possible; the only agenda the filmmakers have is to share the courageous story of Soraya M. with as large an audience as possible.

And this statement does put our mind at ease a bit. After all, it's understandable and noble for them to want to get this film in front of the widest possible audience. Preaching to the choir is only so effective.

But the primary problem for us remains the nature of the
Values Voters Summit itself. This is not a mere Republican pow wow. This is not the Republican National Convention. This is not a peaceful weekend of religious exploration. For gay people, it's a much, much, more disconcerting affair. This event is very much a pep rally for anti-gay sentiment. So just in defense of our own lives and our own refusal to accept the Family Research Council's goals -- which they have handily outlined for us -- we feel like we have no choice but to raise questions about ANYONE'S appearance at such a soiree.

So again, we get why she is doing it and we are happy about these new developments. We also understand how the decision to balance outreach versus personal politics is a touchy one. But as ones who unapologetically want to "
inspire oppressed people" to stand up against those who are trying to stifle their civil liberties, we have determined that this annual event, a monologue about "pro-family" values rather than a dialogue about tolerance and respect, is one where we will always encourage non-participation.

**UPDATE, 9/15: Go to the Values Voters video archive if you want to watch Shohreh's appearance (click the "lights, Camera, Values in Action" link).

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Your thoughts

Jeremy you forgot to mention the fact that these conservative buffs are including Dr. William "lower crime rates by aborting black babies" Bennett to their summit. How can they claim to be against racism when they invite a blatant racist to their event.

Posted by: Adam Kautz | Sep 11, 2008 1:27:03 PM

LOL!!! Where did they find that DEMONIC looking picture of Stephen Baldwin???

Is that his "I'm ready to talk about dicks, dicks and MORE dicks" game face?

Fucking straight-to-DVD weirdo.

Posted by: Scott | Sep 11, 2008 1:37:24 PM

Oh my God, I didn't even notice that picture of Stephen Baldwin until Scott pointed it out. "HOMOSECKS?"

LOL@Jeb Bush. This is just about the only convention he'd ever get invited to nowadays =/

Posted by: Alle | Sep 11, 2008 3:41:24 PM

Ms. Aghdashloo, I get it, too. It's Hollywood. You have a film. You got to promote.

But please do not promote it to these sick, evil people who don't give a damn about anyone's oppression and, in fact, live to cause such oppression. Don't turn your back on decency in order to create decency. That's impossible.

I want to continue being the great fan of your work that I already am. You're better than this. Instead of making this mistake, you can surely find a better venue for your film

Posted by: ohplease | Sep 11, 2008 5:08:29 PM

If she appears, we are done with her. Period.

She wants to show a film about stoning--before the very people who would love to do it themselves?

Go figure.

Dumb, dumber, dumbest.


Posted by: Frodo | Sep 11, 2008 9:38:35 PM

Lou Dobbs? That is a shocker! I thought he was smart.

Posted by: John | Sep 11, 2008 10:45:15 PM

John: I actually did a post a few months back about all of the list of potential speakers that FRC was using to drum up ticket sales to their event (which at the time included Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Patricia Heaton, among others):


I had assumed that Lou Dobbs was just another one that they were using for promotional purposes. I never thought he would actually attend!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 11, 2008 10:53:53 PM

She knew what the summit represented. Now that she is feeling the backlash, her agent is doing damage control. Pathetic, weak, and cowardly.

Posted by: JP | Sep 12, 2008 8:31:47 AM

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