Local couple featured in LGBT rights documentary

Photo courtesy of Sandra Pfeiffer.

Story by Paige Effinger, Contributing writer

A lesbian couple from Paducah was featured in a documentary about LGBT rights.

The documentary, “Not throwing in the Towel”, shares the story of the couple as well as depicted LGBT history in America.

The documentary had a successful premiere Feb. 22  at Maiden Alley Cinema in Paducah. The documentary will be submitted to film festivals, but will not have another airing at Maiden Alley Cinema at this time.

The documentary features the story of Debbie Carter and Ginny Farrugia. The pair are LGBT rights activists, and they accepted the opportunity so they could share their story.

Farrugia said the two have been together for almost 16 years and they hit it off from the start. They met online in a chat room, and they talked online for a couple of months until they decided to meet in person.

Farrugia said she drove all the way from Michigan to Arkansas to meet her future partner, Debbie.

“We were meant to be,” Farrugia said.  “I did not expect for it to be that fast. I thought I was just going there to meet her. The next thing I know she’s putting her stuff in the back of my truck.”

The pair were living in Michigan until they decided to move to Kentucky. They both attend Murray State and study nonprofit leadership.

Despite living in Kentucky for 15 years, they said they have not felt comfortable enough to raise their voices until recently. Together, they said their old selves would be extremely proud of their accomplishments.

“Kentucky saved us,” said Farrugia. “Even though we went through a lot of situations that would tear people down quickly, it made our relationship stronger.”

Johanna Rhodes, producer of the documentary, has known the couple for six years and Carter said Rhodes is like a mother to them.

Rhodes said she chose to ask Carter and Farrugia because they did an event for one of their classes at Murray State called “Paint with Pride.”

Rhodes saw the success of the event and realized there was still an opportunity to advance on LGBT rights in western Kentucky. Rhodes contacted Sandra Pfeifer, the director, in November 2015 and the two collaborated on the documentary.

The documentary is titled “Not Throwing in the Towel” to symbolize how Rhodes has helped the couple rise above negativity and never give up on life.

“We simply did not want to throw in the towel because we are warriors and we will fight for our right to be treated as equals,” Farrugia said.

“That project made me think that maybe there is a bigger story that can be told here about being gay in Western Kentucky, and that Ginny and Debbie would be good candidates to be in it,” Rhodes said. “I wanted to show that Debbie and Ginny are caring individuals and they deserve a chance.Everybody deserves a chance.”

Farrugia said they want people to watch the documentary to raise awareness and advocate for LGBT rights.

“We wanted to reach the individuals in the audience that were the bigots to show that love is love,” Farrugia said. “We shouldn’t have to fight to have love.”