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VIDEO: FilmOut short film documents life and love of San Diego gay couple together 65 years

SAN DIEGO -- Johnny Dapper and Lyman Hallowell met on V-J Day after Japan surrendered in World War II and spent the next 65 years together.

In our hustle and bustle world, sometimes it’s easy to take those around us for granted and get caught up in the chaos of everyday life. Dapper and Hallowell spent their entire adult lives together, and the love and admiration they had for each other was only strengthened by their years as a couple.

Dapper and Hallowell are the stars of a short-film documentary about their lives and love that will be showing at FilmOut San Diego’s LGBT Film Festival at 2:15 pm Sunday, Aug. 28, at the historic Birch North Park Theatre.

“Their story is not just a personal one, it’s historical as well. It’s a portrait of queer history that very often we don’t see. Especially at their age, there aren’t that many people from queer history left,” said Paul Detwiler (pictured at left), co-director of the film along with Michael Chen of KGTV in San Diego.

Dapper and Hollowell spent their retirement years in San Diego's Uptown District, and legally married in 2008 until California voters took away marriage equality by approving Proposition 8. The couple were chosen as the "inspirational couple" for the 2008 San Diego Pride Parade.

Mr. Hallowell died July 11, 2011, at the age of 96.

“Johnny and Lyman: A Life Together” has received acclaim at the festivals it has been shown at throughout the summer.

“The film has won five awards so far on the festival circuit. We won second place for best documentary story at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. It’s a crowd pleaser; it’s very warm and disarming,” said Detwiler, who is a videographer, producer, director and editor at his San Diego company, SOLID Multimedia.

In light of the newly passed legislation in New York legalizing gay marriage, the film is especially poignant because it puts a face to what the LGBT community has been fighting for.

“This piece is so politically relevant to show right now, so I’ve been submitting it to non-LGBT festivals too, because it’s very important for Middle America to see this message and maybe it will change people’s minds,” Detwiler said.

Hallowell and Dapper met in Hollywood where they were both working on movies. Hallowell was a film editor and Dapper designed sets and was an art director in motion pictures. They worked with such greats as Alfred Hitchcock, Elia Kazan and Francis Ford Coppola.

Hallowell and Dapper kept their love secretive because the stigma of being gay was so great in those days before Stonewall.

“The studios were terribly anti-gay,” Dapper says in the film. “We never told anyone, we never told our parents.”

“Especially now with these guys having a story out there and with marriage equality being so important, this movie is their legacy,” Detwiler said. “They worked in Hollywood and they worked on everybody else’s stories for decades so now their story is sort of their legacy to queer history to inspire hope and social progress.”

The film is incredibly touching and will leave you with a better sense of what a healthy and happy relationship can do for the individuals involved in it. It gives a sense of hope that there is everlasting love out there for everyone.

The details

FilmOut San Diego’s 13th annual LGBT Film Festival will concludes Aug. 26-28.

Almost 60 films and shorts will be shown at the historical Birch North Park Theatre.

To buy individual tickets, click HERE.


A festival pass for the three remaining days of the festival is only $50 and includes the Closing Night party at Urbn Coal Fired Pizza in North Park.