jump to navigation

“Pray Away the Gay” May 9, 2012

Posted by homolog88 in film festivals.
add a comment

Protest against Love In Action

Yesterday evening, I attended the showing of a feature-length documentary at a small screening room (45 seats) in one of the ancillary theaters of the festival. The documentary, although well made, sported the klunky title, This Is What Love in Action Looks Like, referring to a program of Christian “reparative therapy” practiced on self-hating adults and hijacked minors.

A teenager is Memphis had blogged his unhappiness to his friends about being forced by his Christian parents to enroll in a residential brain-washing program, part of the Exodus movement, that seeks to turn people away from homosexuality through shame and fear. This sparked continuous protest amongst his friends (also Christians), who forwarded his blog post and organized daily demonstrations outside the program, called Love In Action. Their main beef was that, 1) you can’t change people’s sexual orientation, and 2) forcing minors into “straight camp” brainwashing is a form of child abuse. The protests eventually gained nationwide media attention, sparking a change of heart in the director of the program (an ex-gay himself) and leading to the shutdown of the residential program for minors. (The “ex-gay” movement is still going strong, however. Michelle Bachman’s husband, Marcus, runs a Christian counseling center in Minnesota that seeks to “pray away the gay.” Nasty queens claim he needs to butch up plenty himself.)
As I said, the feature-length doc was well-done, using web-based graphics to tell its story. The sophistication of even modestly-funded documentaries these days is quite heartening. Where this will end up is anybody’s guess. My straight friends liked it well enough but felt it was all advocacy and slighted potentially interesting issues that fell outside the ideological program. Before the closing credits, the filmmaker put in a scrolling text about how advocates of “reparative therapy,” most notably Exodus International, refused to be interviewed. But the filmmaker himself was part of the protest, and it was evident what his point of view was going to be. I wouldn’t have agreed to be interviewed for such a hostile project myself.

Boston LGBT Film Festival, Day 5 May 8, 2012

Posted by homolog88 in film festivals.
add a comment

“T’Ain’t Nobody’s Bizness” Goes to Boston

I arrived yesterday (day 5) in Boston and made my way quickly to one of the screening venues of the festival, the historic Brattle Theatre smack in the middle of Harvard Square. I had come with a friend I was visiting in Rhode Island, Jeff Clark, who is a ski buddy but has also been an active Episcopalian. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man to be elected as a bishop, was scheduled to be present Monday night at a screening of the documentary about the struggle of the Anglican church to come to terms with its faggots. The full-length documentary, Love Free or Die (Robinson is the bishop of the New Hampshire diocese) was quite good, a PBS-style follow-the-protagonist documentary funded by the Ford Foundation, ITVS, and others. It won an award at the Sundance Film Festival and will be aired on PBS later this year. So it had all the good production values, and the story turned out to be rather gripping as well. The director, Macky Alston, comes from a religious family himself; his father was a Presbyterian minister who initially rejected his son’s homosexuality. (Relented later, however, and married his son to his partner of 11 years.)

There was a panel afterwards with Robinson, two doc directors, and two multicultural religious experts (one Chinese, one transgendered)–a bit self-congratulatory but also heartfelt and well-meaning. Robinson himself was warm and funny and–I hesitate to use the word, but–wise. Though I’m inoculated against religion myself and have never felt the need to belong to that kind of community, millions of people do, and it is one place to promote social change. (Organized religion actually played a progressive role in the abolition movement of the 19th century and the civil rights movement of the 20th.) The American Episcopalian church recently voted in favor of the consecration of LGBT bishops and the blessing of same-sex marriages within the church, a debate which was effectively documented in the movie. This puts the North American church at odds with the many conservative congregations on this continent and especially in the Southern Hemisphere (notably Africa) who have defected from the Anglican structure or who are seeking “realignment” (basically autonomy within the church). It’s all very interesting, and, for me, all very much beside the point. One of the women priests in the film was crying because, as she said about accepting same-sex unions, “pastorally it’s a no-brainer, but I can’t bring myself to go against 2,000 years of continuous Biblical teaching.” Really? So a woman who couldn’t even be a priest, according to the Bible, is tying herself up into emotional knots because she can’t let go of some verses in Leviticus which the church hasn’t repudiated. (She doesn’t seem to have a problem disregarding the strictures about slaves and multiple wives). Gene Robinson had a cute label for this kind of textual fundamentalism, “biblolotry.” But as much as I like the religious progressives I’ve met, religious discourse leaves me cold. And organized religion has been dragged by secular activism into the extension of civil rights for gays; it has not been in the forefront.
The Boston LGBT Film Festival looks to be a majorly well-organized event. It lasts 10 days, has organized venues at museums and theaters, and is punctuated with interesting events. For example, there will be a Scifi Night and Reception on Wednesday. Looks like I’ll be attending under the pseudonym “Robert Phillips” as a result of a mistake in the program (a beautifully glossy production), but Robert Phillips is only 51. There’s always a silver lining.