Thank you for choosing to engage in this important conversation through the simple yet profound act of listening.
This film has been screened all over the U.S. and internationally at film festivals, church screenings, LGBT groups, and other community spaces. And, diverse as these audiences are, the film has been connecting in a raw and powerful way. The voices in this film are the ones least heard in the often contentious and shallow debate that's too often cast as God vs gays. The people featured in this film challenge stereotypes and assumptions on all sides as they strive to to find love, faith, and belonging.
Our journey with this film began in the fall of 2008. We had been attending a small, non-traditional, and very inclusive church in San Francisco where we got to know LGBT Adventists for the first time. We were expecting our first child that December, and when the rhetoric around Prop 8 (a same-sex marriage ban) heated up, we witnessed some incredibly hurtful and damaging actions towards people we now knew and loved, and often in the pews of the denomination our families have been part of for five generations. We felt we needed to do something to help make our world and our faith community a better place for our daughter.
We started out making a more classic “issue” film and spent three months on a road trip around the country when our daughter was a baby, interviewing theologians, pastors, psychologists, and other experts. Additionally, we set up story booths in safe homes where we just listened to story after story of LGBT Adventists and those who loved them. It was a profound experience; and, somewhere along the way, a different film emerged. We realized that the traditional issue film wouldn’t move the dialogue forward in any productive way--it would just promote more debate. So we just focused on stories, which we felt we were missing, and the film is now entirely character driven.
The film is set in the context of the Seventh-day Adventist church, which is currently the fastest-growing denomination in the United States (with an even faster growing international presence). However, after screening the film at both LGBT film festivals and churches, it very definitely screens well to people from diverse backgrounds. These questions and journeys cross over. As Sharon Groves from the Human Rights Campaign said, "This is a beautiful and compelling film...anyone who has felt that their faith and sexuality are in conflict will instantly get this film." And for those who can't tell their Adventists from their Mormons, this film offers a chance to hear a unique perspective from those who have often paid a very high price to keep their faith.
Being a gay Christian isn’t easy, but being a gay Seventh-day Adventist is an especially difficult path because Adventism, to most, is more than a belief system; it’s also a close-knit community of belonging. The unique setting of Adventism with its distinct cultural markers and traditions, heightens this conflict. In many ways tangible and intangible, being Adventist is much more than subscribing to a set of beliefs. It is a way of life, a community not easily left.
We hope seeing Seventh-Gay Adventists: A Film about Faith on the Margins will help you enter into the stories, challenges, and spiritual journeys of those who are often not allowed to speak. We think you'll experience that this isn't about a theological debate. But it is about listening to a demographic in most churches that is often talked about or at but very seldom with. This film is meant to be a with space, a chance to listen and walk in someone else's shoes for a while, even if you don't completely understand or agree. If you can open your hearts to their stories, you will walk out with an expanded worldview of what it might be like to face such a dilemma as the people in our film have. As Thoreau asked, "Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?"