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Sunday, March 26, 2006

"Jesus Brought Me Out"



A new documentary makes the case that many of us know personally: that accepting themselves as gay wasn't a contradiction of their religious beliefs — but instead an affirmation of their belief in God and His individual plan for every person.

Via PlanetOut.com:

"God and Gays: Bridging the Gap"

"Jesus brought me out," says Luane Beck, director of the new documentary, "God and Gays: Bridging the Gap."


Beck was fortunate. She was raised by parents who were first conservative Baptist, then Mormon, and finally joined the ultraconservative Church of Christ. Nevertheless, by the time she was ready to come out as a lesbian, Beck, now a film-studies lecturer at California's San Jose State University, had forged a relationship with the divine that nurtured her queer soul.


"I have a very loving God," Beck says. "There's a scary God out there. I don't buy into the scary God."


Most of the people Beck interviewed for her film are not as blessed as she. Some were so traumatized by church homophobia that they tried to become "ex-gays," at a terrible emotional cost. Several attempted suicide, or saw loved ones kill themselves.


Beck was startled at how much suffering she uncovered.


"I couldn't believe somebody would have to go through all that just to be who they are," Beck says.


…One powerful presence speaks from off-screen, because she's dead when the film begins. She's the daughter of Mary Lou Wallner, the founder of TEACH (To Educate About the Consequences of Homophobia) Ministry.


Wallner was raised as a fundamentalist Christian. When her daughter Anna told her she was a lesbian, she responded coldly.


"I used to think that the only way to relate to gays was to confront them," Wallner writes on the TEACH Web site. "I had no use for them. I didn't understand them, and I was judgmental and arrogant. And then one day our lives were changed forever."


That was the day Anna came out to her mother. Another day would change Wallner's life even more profoundly — the day Anna hanged herself, after eight years of rejection by her parents. Wallner concedes in "God and Gays" that before her daughter's suicide, she felt her child would, indeed, be better off dead than gay.


Some time after her daughter was gone, Wallner came to regret the way she'd responded to her homosexuality. Wallner left her conservative church and vowed to help other parents avoid her mistakes. TEACH Ministry was the result.


Mary Lou Wallner and her husband, Bob, "are strong allies for gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people," the TEACH Web site reads. "They have a sincere desire to see the church accept and welcome GLBT people just the way God made them."…


Audience Response


Viewers are similarly moved by "God and Gays"' revelations. After a screening at the Cinequest film festival in San Jose, at least one straight filmgoer joined PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and a self-described "evangelical Christian" wrote Beck an e-mail of strong support.


Beck is not surprised by the positive response. In her travels around the country to produce the film, Beck found that even members of apparently conservative communities are far more ready to embrace their queer neighbors than we're sometimes led to believe.


"I think if you're an ally, and you're in a church that's not affirming, that if you make that known, eventually the church will change," Beck promises. "Eventually, things will change." — by Marc Breindel, PlanetOut.com

Read the entire article here.

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