After 30 years of living openly gay in California, Archer, a dance teacher and handyman, returns to his small hometown of Botkins, Ohio (population 1,164), where he has been invited to be a featured performer in the annual “Miss Carousel” pageant. HOMETOWN PROUD follows Archer as he resolves to enhance Botkins’ annual summer festival with a dash of rainbow pride.
The film paints a picture of the town by weaving together Archer’s actions and observations with wide-ranging comments from local citizens, including the reigning Carousel Queen, the pageant director, the mayor and local historians. Family members are interviewed, including his young lesbian niece and her older sister, his musician brother, who composes a song for Archer’s dance routine, and his ever-supportive mom—who sits atop Archer’s parade float as his queen. Together, they create a family portrait that highlights how their values are shaped by deep love, resilience, inclusion, and survival.
Lacking the support structure that is taken for granted in large cities, LGBTQ+ residents in small towns—where conformity equals acceptance—still experience challenges to living “out loud and proud.” HOMETOWN PROUD offers experiences about being in a place that is dominated by family farms, where everyone knows everyone, and having three churches and three bars is the balance between virtue and vice.
HOMETOWN PROUD was inspired by the opportunity to immerse themselves in the life of Archer Altstaetter, who is featured in the film, in addition to the lives of his family in their hometown of Botkins, Ohio, while he brought back some rainbow pride to the town's annual summer pageant.
In their individual projects, Naida Osline and Tyler Stallings have both explored issues around gender, immigration, and transformative modes of being. These shared sensibilities inspired their collaboration on HOMETOWN PROUD.
The film’s style blends formal interviews with direct cinema/cinema verite, inspired by Osline’s iconic compositions in her photo-based work and Stallings’ lyrical writing style.
Naida Osline and Tyler Stallings are collaborators on HOMETOWN PROUD, which they produced, directed, and edited together. Both live in Southern California. Osline received her BA from California State University Fullerton, with a concentration in photography. She has shown her work throughout California and internationally since 2000. Stallings received his MFA from California Institute of the Arts with a concentration in studio art and critical writing. He has curated numerous contemporary art exhibitions since 1995, along with editing and publishing several books. Both have been arts administrators at non-profit art galleries and museums in the region since the early 1990s. This is their first feature film documentary.
Christopher Michno writes about his insights into HOMETOWN PROUD in his feature-length article about this debut film by Naida Osline & Tyler Stallings, Nov. 5, 2020. Read here
KUCI radio: 10th Anniversary Show: Archer Altstaetter interview by Claudia Shambaugh, about having become a gay activist elder. Unpacking that on a later interview, will be our essential starting point, when a documentary about his return to his Ohio village will be released, “Hometown Proud.” Posted on June 23, 2020. Listen here
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