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Gay BYU film producer: Termination 'was not homophobia'

By Stephanie Grimes  |  Posted Nov 21st, 2011 @ 11:49am


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PROVO -- An openly gay Brigham Young University employee who was terminated earlier this month says his termination should not be blamed on "institutionalized homophobia on the part of BYU or the Church."

Kendall Wilcox, a producer with BYUtv, did not return calls requesting an interview, but said in a Facebook post attributed to him that he lost his job Nov. 11 due to "irreconcilable differences."

Wilcox, a regional Emmy-nominated filmmaker, is currently directing "Far Between," a film that attempts to document the gay and lesbian Mormon experience. The film aims to take a non-polemic approach to the question of Mormons and sexuality in an effort to "engage a wide audience on the universal questions revolving around who we love and how we understand and honor God."


I do not regard my dismissal as a case of direct or institutional homophobia.

–Kendall Wilcox


Wilcox said, though, that he did not believe his work on the documentary led to his termination.

"I do not regard my dismissal as a case of direct or institutional homophobia," he said in a Facebook post. " [BYU Broadcasting] cited certain tasks and communications that I had not performed to their liking, I cited an increasingly hostile work environment over the last several months with which I refused to continue to engage."

BYU spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins also emphasized that the decision was for reasons other than Wilcox's being gay, saying his termination had nothing to do with his work on the documentary and was instead due to his not showing up to work for an extended period of time.

"Kendall Wilcox was terminated for two basic reasons," she said. "He refused to come to work and he refused to communicate with his supervisor. We cannot employ a person who refuses to do either of those."

Jenkins was concerned about Wilcox's mention of a ‘hostile work environment,' saying BYU was not made aware of the allegation until after the decision was made to terminate Wilcox's employment.

"He commented on the ‘hostile work environment' through a text message to his supervisor after he was warned that he would be terminated if he did not show up to work," she said, adding that Wilcox had not been seen in BYU Broadcasting facilities for at least two months.


Wilcox said he had "clear, supportive documentation of the workplace hostilities," but Jenkins said nothing was mentioned to BYU's human resources department.

Wilcox said he had "clear, supportive documentation of the workplace hostilities," but Jenkins said nothing was mentioned to BYU's human resources department.

"Like all major institutions, we have an equal opportunities office that is very available to address these types of concerns and issues," Jenkins said. "He did not go through our human resources department to discuss any concerns he may have had."

Jenkins said Wilcox's accusations were particularly surprising to BYU Broadcasting due to an August interview with Radio West's Doug Fabrizio during which "he spoke of how supportive the environment is here at BYU Broadcasting."

Wilcox argued on Facebook that BYU chose to fire him because he "chose not to continue to engage with them in a way that felt disingenuous and against my value system."

He declined to expound further, but said he accepts responsibility for his choices and in "not a victim, but a willing participant in the dynamic."

Despite the disagreement over the reasons for his termination, Wilcox said he and BYU came to a "mutual understanding," and he looks forward to remaining involved with the gay LDS community. He added that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints have made great strides in recent years in being more tolerant and supportive of those with different views. The interviews he has gathered for "Far Between" are proof of a shift in LDS culture toward being more empathetic and understanding, he said.

"I am vividly aware of the very tragic history of the gay- Mormon dynamic and am therefore intent on changing that history in as much as I play a role in it," he said on Facebook. "I am certain that things are getting better."

Nobody is perfect, the film director said in the posting.

"But I do believe we've reached a tipping point at which - - while keeping an eye to the sad events of the past regarding the Church and homosexuality -- we can all support one another in seeking truth, forgiveness and reconciliation," he added. "Together we are making it better."

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