Dear Jesse

1997, 16mm, Color, 82 min.

Director: Tim Kirkman Producer: Mary Beth Mann
Executive Producer: Gill Holland
Cinematographer: Norwood Cheek Editor: Joe Klotz
Screenwriter: Tim Kirkman Music: John Crooke

In the middle of a New York winter and following the breakup of a relationship, director Tim Kirkman decides to fly south to his hometown in North Carolina. Around the same time, Jesse Helms announces his intentions of running for yet another term in the Senate. "That's when I got really depressed," says Kirkman in this informative documentary about the uncanny similarities between the Senator and himself. Kirkman and Helms share the same hometown, come from similar families, have similar religious background, educations, career paths and general interests. Yet Kirkman humorously uncovers what he believes to be their greatest similarity. Addressing Helms in the film, he says, "For most of your twenty-four years in the U.S. Senate, you've been obsessed with homosexual men. For most of my adult life, so have I." Alternately a letter to Jesse Helms and a personal diary, Dear Jesse reveals Kirkman's coming-of-age as a gay man as it uncovers a South that remains saddled with tensions about race and sexual identity.