No Place Like Home

The Struggle Against Hate in Kansas

A Film by Kevin Willmott

Screening March 13 at No Divide KC / The Charlotte Street Foundation, Kansas City
and April 25
at the Manhattan Public Library, Manhattan, KS.

🏳️‍🌈 The Film


No Place Like Home: The Struggle Against Hate in Kansas is a 60 minute documentary film produced by Do Good Productions, directed by Kevin Willmott and released in 2023. The legacy of free state battles in Kansas continues with modern-day friends of Dorothy who find that home is a hostile place. This film explores the challenges for acceptance and compassion that LGBTQ people face through stories of gains and losses, love and hatred, and the willful ignorance that continue to make this effort so arduous yet vital for the very soul of our humanity.

Directed by Oscar winner Kevin Willmott and narrated by Melissa Etheridge, No Place Like Home: The Struggle Against Hate in Kansas takes you on a tour of a deep red state, to meet people who have found themselves in a battle for LGBTQ rights in the most unlikely places. In Trego County, Manhattan, Dodge City, Wichita, Topeka and several rural communities, you'll meet some of the people C.J. Janovy profiles in her book No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas as well as emerging activists—ordinary people doing extraordinary things, all because they're committed to securing justice for everyone in their home state.

Previously screened at:

  • 2022 Tallgrass Film Festival (Work-in-Progress - October 2, 2022)
  • University of Central Missouri Politics & Social Justice Week (April 4, 2023)
  • The Salina Arts Center (April 27, 2023)
  • The Screenland Armour (June 11, 13, 21, 2023)
  • Fort Hays State University (June 25, 2023)
  • Free State Film Festival (July 1, 2023)
  • KTWU PBS (May 31 and June 14, 2023)
  • Glenwood Arts Theater (August 18-24, 2023)
  • Prairie Pride Film Festival (Oct. 13, 2023)
  • KCPT PBS (Oct. 20-21, 2023)
  • St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church (Oct. 26, 2023)
  • University of Kansas (Nov. 8, 2023)
  • Leavenworth Public Library (Nov. 12, 2023)
  • Kansas City Community College (Nov. 14, 2023)
  • St. Louis International Film Festival (Nov. 17, 2023)
  • St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Lenexa (Feb. 4, 2023)

🏳️‍🌈 The Filmmakers

A conversation with editor Mark von Schlemmer, director Kevin Willmott, and cinematographer Matt Jacobson at the 2022 Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita, Kansas.

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Director Kevin Willmott and author C.J. Janovy on Art House, a production of Flatland

Direct link:

Director Kevin Willmott, author C.J. Janovy, and documentary subject Luc Bensimon on KTWU PBS

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Director: Kevin Willmott

Kevin is an Academy Award-winning, two-time Sundance Film Festival director, and co-writer, with Spike Lee, of BlacKkKlansman and Chi-Raq. His last project for Do Good Productions was the award-winning documentary Gordon Parks Elementary.

Narrator: Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge is a two-time Grammy Award-winning, five-time GLAAD Media Award-winning rock musician whose breakthrough album Yes I Am earned an RIAA certification of 6x platinum. She also won an Academy Award for her song "I Need to Wake Up" from the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. She was born in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Editor: Mark von Schlemmer

Mark is a television producer, filmmaker and professor. He was an editor on such feature films as Destination: Planet Negro!, The Only Good Indian, CSA: The Confederate States of America and AIR: A Musical. His documentary film work includes serving as editor and co-writer on Kansas vs. Darwin, William Allen White: What's the Matter with Kansas, and Gordon Parks Elementary.

Producer: Scott Richardson

Scott has produced several independent feature films and documentaries. His professional experience includes executive positions at ABC News and A&E Television Networks, and his writing has been published in The New York Times Magazine. Scott was a producer on Gordon Parks Elementary.

Producer: Sam Zeff

Sam is the Morning Edition news anchor for KCUR, Kansas City's NPR affiliate. He produces the history podcast Archiver, and has produced documentaries for PBS stations in Pennsylvania and on A&E Network. He was also a producer on Gordon Parks Elementary. Sam has held leadership positions in TV newsrooms in Minneapolis, Kansas City and St. Louis.

Associate Producer: C.J. Janovy

C.J. is a veteran journalist and the author of No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas, winner of the 2019 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize, finalist for a 2019 Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Nonfiction and 2019 Kansas Notable Book.

Director Kevin Willmott

Kevin Willmott won an Academy Award for co-writing the screenplay for Spike Lee's 2019 film BlacKkKlansman. He also co-wrote Lee's films Chi-Raq and most recently, Da 5 Bloods.

A prolific independent filmmaker, Willmott has directed 14 feature films, including two that premiered at The Sundance Film Festival: C.S.A: Confederate States Of America, and The Only Good Indian, starring Wes Studi. Willmott’s other films include The 24th starring Trai Byers of Empire; Destination: Planet Negro!; Jayhawkers, about how the recruiting of Wilt Chamberlain by legendary basketball coach Phog Allen modernized basketball and changed a community; The Battle for Bunker Hill, starring James McDaniel and Saeed Jaffrey; Ninth Street, starring Martin Sheen and Isaac Hayes; and the documentary feature William Allen White: What's The Matter With Kansas.

Willmott grew up in Junction City, Kansas and attended Marymount College receiving his BA in Drama. He attended graduate studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, receiving several writing awards and his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing. Willmott is a Professor in the Film and Media Studies Department at The University of Kansas.

Of the documentary, Kevin says, “Working on the film No Place Like Home has been a wonderful experience for me. Most of my films deal with the Black struggle in American history. This film allowed me to expand upon my belief that all these struggles have the same opponent -- ignorance. The lawmakers, politicians and others that fight progress with African Americans, Women and immigrants are the same ones that battle the LGBTQ community.

“The film reflects how abolitionists like Frederick Douglass went from fighting to end slavery to the right of women to vote and then child labor, stopping foreign wars, and the fight against poverty. It is important to look at all these struggles as one experience. History tells us that is how those that manufacture and sell hate always look at it.

“In particular, the attack on trans youth is one of the most shocking and hateful episodes in recent history. Since the bloody battles of the civil rights movement, America likes to believe it has settled how we look at one another. The interracial and gay couples on television commercials sells the corporate illusion that we have reached the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, that is far from our actual national reality. Hate crimes are up and the Federal Bureau of Investigation states that domestic terrorism is currently the biggest threat against American citizens.

“The lack of compassion and the willingness of lawmakers to dismiss the lost lives of these trans youth can only be called heartless. None of the Kansas opponents of LGBTQ rights we contacted were willing to be interviewed for the film. This left us to make what some would call a one-sided documentary.

“I believe these politicians and others do not want to be interviewed because they know their positions make them appear like bigots and hate mongers. They save their comments for news services that are also anti-LGBTQ and for the safe confines of the floor of the House and Senate. We would have welcomed their comments and used them in a fair and proper context. Since they did not, we have some satirical fun with their positions.

“This shying away from positions opposed to their own is in the long tradition of those that have always fought civil rights. They like to vanish from the opposition public and issue only controlled attacks. Our film shines the light on the hate and struggle here in Kansas. But Kansas is just a reflection of the rest of the United States, no better and no worse.

“I am proud to be a Kansan and believe this film is one step in revealing the negative attitudes and policies that make being young and queer in the state a difficult existence.

We believe fighting back makes their lives a little better.”

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Author C.J. Janovy

C.J. Janovy is a longtime journalist with deep roots in Kansas City. She's currently director of content at KCUR, the city's NPR affiliate, where she's also overseen digital news and reported on arts and culture. She was the founding opinion editor at Kansas Reflector, and for many years served as editor of Kansas City's alt-weekly The Pitch.

Her book No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas (University Press of Kansas, January 2018) is the epic story of how a few disorganized and politically naive Kansans, realizing they were unfairly under attack, rolled up their sleeves, went looking for fights, and ended up making friends in one of the country's most hostile states. Or, as she likes to say, a love story. It won the 2019 Stubbendieck Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize, was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ nonfiction and was honored as a Kansas Notable Book for 2019.

Of the documentary, C.J. says "No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas chronicles a decade of struggle and success for equality in Kansas. After it was published in 2018, LGBTQ Kansans celebrated victories: the passage of local ordinances protecting them from discrimination in key population centers, the election of a Native American lesbian to Congress and two openly gay representatives to the Kansas House. But the backlash had already begun, with conservative politicians punishing LGBTQ people for this progress—and transgender people, particularly children, made for easy targets. I wish the book didn't need a sequel, but there's no better person to pick up this part of the story than Kevin Willmott.

"What's happening in Kansas is playing out all over the country. I'm so grateful to the brave Kansans who speak up in No Place Like Home: The Struggle Against Hate in Kansas—everyday people who show so much more courage than the politicians who are willing to risk young people's lives in their craven culture wars. The film is a powerful reminder of all the ways in which love wins."

Author CJ Janovy profile image

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🏳️‍🌈 Media

No Place Like Home Poster


POSTER: Download PNG (3300x5100, 72 PPI, 20.3 MB) | Download PDF (11x17, 300 DPI, 182 MB)

Production photos
Author C.J. Janovy interviews Sandra Stenzel during the production of NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Author C.J. Janovy conducts an interview during the production of No Place Like Home while Eric J. Smith films.

Kevin Willmott and Mark von Schlemmer in the process of editing the documentary NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

Kevin Willmott and Mark von Schlemmer in the process of editing the documentary No Place Like Home.

Kevin Willmott interviews Codi Charles during the production of NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

Kevin Willmott conducts an interview during the production of No Place Like Home.

Stills from the film

🏳️‍🌈 Supporters

No Place Like Home: The Struggle Against Hate in Kansas was made possible by generous financial supporters...
  • Frank and Kathy Bednar
  • Mary Birch
  • Jan Booth
  • Jane Booth
  • Tom Carmody
  • Matt Cullen
  • Francis Family Foundation
  • Greater Kansas City Community Foundation—D.C. Shumaker Fund
  • FHLBank Topeka
  • Bill Ford
  • Lynne Green
  • Jon and Barb Heeb
  • Heather Hoy
  • Humanities Kansas
  • Jolie Justus
  • Lathrop GPM
  • Burdett and Michel Loomis
  • Brian Myers
  • Brenda Poor
  • Quigley Family Charitable Fund
  • Tom and Cynthia Ryan
  • Carrie Stewart
  • Vanessa Vaughn-West
  • Kyle Velte
  • Ann Elizabeth Warner
  • Steven Warren
...Including a huge crowd of IndieGogo Donors
  • Robynn Andracsek
  • Anonymous
  • Gwen Asbury
  • Clark Balderson
  • Barbara Balzer
  • Lana Baldwin
  • David Barnard
  • Jonathan D. Barnett
  • Sarah and Jon Baum
  • Kate Bender
  • Barbara Bichelmeyer and Emily Ward
  • Lori Blake
  • Jo Brisbane
  • Robert Boxley
  • Johnda Boyce
  • Lindsay Buck
  • Stacy Cam
  • Jean-Jacques Corbier
  • Terry Cushman
  • Julie Denesha
  • Diann Dinkel
  • Lindy Duree
  • Katha Dalton
  • Michelle Davidson
  • Melissa Davis
  • Lizzie Derrington
  • Mo Dickens
  • Lynne Ellis
  • Angie Evers
  • Connor Ferris
  • Carolyn Finken-Dove
  • Amy Fishburn
  • Nicole Guerrero Foster
  • Bruce Frey
  • The Gilbert Baker Foundation
  • Maureen Goddard
  • Barry Grissom
  • Teresa Gutierrez
  • Leslie Hammett
  • Bruce Hartman
  • Louanne Hein
  • Charlene Henney
  • Josh Hilbrand
  • Stuart Hinds
  • Deborah Hirsch
  • Brett Hoedl
  • Jane Holt
  • Karrin Thomas Huhmann
  • Jena Janovy
  • John and Karen Janovy
  • Elliot Johnson
  • Janet Justus and Andrea Wickerham
  • David Imgrund
  • Drew Ising
  • Michelle T. Johnson
  • Gina Kaufmann
  • Karen Kennedy
  • Susan King
  • Rich Kowalewski
  • Carol Kruse
  • Meg Kumin
  • Eric Lackey
  • Lisa Larson-Bunnell
  • Erica L. Land
  • Christopher Lawrence
  • Jane Levine
  • Kate Lindsay
  • Jeffrey Loeb
  • Casey R. Logan
  • Cindi Bogard Long
  • Peggy Lowe
  • Kathryn A. Mangelsdorf
  • Ellen Margolis
  • John Maslowski
  • Mick McCallum
  • Jerred McKee
  • Julie Mellgren
  • Laura R. Murphy
  • Matt and Steph Nagl
  • Lisa L. Norwood
  • Regina Nouhan
  • Debbie Nuss
  • Jon O’Neal
  • Jared Panick
  • Kelly Peter
  • Travis Pflanz
  • Richard Piersol
  • Tom Prasch
  • Brandon Prewitt
  • David Wayne Reed
  • Lisa Marie Russo
  • Harrison Schmidt
  • Joy Schoenfield
  • Rhonda Seacrest
  • Ana Sims
  • Sloane Simmons
  • Shannon Skoglund
  • Angela Slabaugh
  • Maura Stephens
  • Terri and Jim Stickley
  • Diann Spencer
  • Kevin Stilley
  • Kaite Stover
  • Caroline Sweeney
  • Scott Thomas
  • Fred Trease and Joe Bussell
  • Alex Turley
  • Steve Walters
  • Joseph Welch
  • Vanessa Vaughn West
  • Pat and Dave Willer
  • Devin and Holli Wilson
  • James Wimpy
  • Kris Wyman
  • Keith E. Zeff