Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Seventh-Gay Adventist, The Movie

Dear SGA Film Community,
This past Sabbath afternoon we had our largest screening yet--at least 450 people--at the CrossWalk Church in Redlands. We've visited a lot of Adventist churches over this project, both filming and now screening, and each has their own personality. This church's mission--learning to love well--really connected with the heart of the film. It was a tremendously positive screening and discussion that focused on listening and finding harmony even in difference. One of my favorite moments came towards the end when an older man at the very back commented. He started by saying, "Just a few hours ago, I had no idea this screening was happening. But I found out and came. I just need to say, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.'" At this there was applause in the audience. Then he added, "This is where is starts. No matter your beliefs, this is where it starts."

26 Screenings; 5,200 People
Believe it or not, that Redlands screening was our 26th screening! A year ago today we were preparing for our very first screening in San Francisco with the people featured in the film and a small audience, and now over 5,200 people have come to a community screening and discussion! Wow--I just did the math now looking at our completed events. I could not have guessed last year at this time that we'd still be able to be doing screenings right now. I would have thought we'd have long since run out of funds. Now, truth be told, we have come close on several occasions this year to doing just that, and we are currently without a permanent address to help keep expenses low during this screening phase, but somehow this ever-growing community that has come together to make this film happen, and we've always been able to schedule the next screening and book our flights. And the small ripple effects are starting to be felt. Even I am getting surprised by film mentions on social media, blogs, and websites as people talk about the film's impact and their experience. It's wonderful to see. Thank you!

Upcoming Screenings
There are at least 10 more screenings coming soon (more likely). Here is the list:
Chattanooga, Sunday, Nov. 4th 
Atlanta, Thursday, Nov. 8th 
Keene, Sunday, Nov. 11th 
Chicago, Tuesday, Nov. 13th 
Benton Harbor, Nov. 15th (likely adding a second screening that same night due to high demand) 
Toronto, Nov. 18th 
Inland Empire area of CA, Dec. 1st (TBA) 
New York City, Dec. 15th 
Seattle, Feb. 9th (Coming soon) 
San Diego, Feb. 21st (Coming soon) 
Glendale, Feb. 23rd (Coming soon) 
Columbus & Dayton, OH (TBA, but Feb or March)
You can RSVP and check for new screenings on our website:

Oh--and, quite pleasantly--we've been asked to submit to three more film festivals! The screening at the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival went incredibly well two weeks ago, and I think these additional invitations are based on personal recommendations from festival programmers. This is somewhat unusual choice of film for an LGBT film festival, particularly since neither Stephen or I are gay (despite several rumors which we just take as compliments; ) We're passionate about both the church and the LGBT community engaging in this conversation since the people featured in our film have told us often that they feel on the margins of both of those communities. In the church they are marginalized and misunderstood because of their LGBT identity, yet in the LGBT community, they are marginalized and misunderstood because of their deep faith. Both the church (Adventists and others) and the LGBT community have too often been complicit in the idea that faith and sexuality are an either/or proposition instead of a both/and.

Huffington Post & the Adventist Church

You may have heard that the Adventist Church voted on wording changes to their two documents that mention homosexuality. The headlines said that the church made changes to show "more compassion" for its gay members. Now, I have talked to several people with a great deal of knowledge about this committee that was recommending changes, and I know they weren't due to actually present recommended changes for at least another year. The fact that they hurried up these changes speaks to me of the pressure they are starting to feel to change their approach. I'm sure the 5,200 people who have seen the film are starting to make an impact as are the many other great organizations and efforts--some that have been around a while, like SDA Kinship, and some new ones, like the Intercollegiate Adventist Gay Straight Alliance (IAGC). The president of the IAGC, a student at Andrews University, wrote a response to the supposed new "compassion" in these documents. I completely agree that it's a positive sign the church feels pressure to be more compassionate, but the actual changes are a far cry from adequate. 
Here's the article.


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