‘Bridegroom’

Just watched Bridegroom on OWN, and I’m feeling a myriad of emotions. Heartbreak over the death of a talented and beautiful man in his prime and in love, anger over the way his partner of six years was treated after his passing, and an even deeper appreciation for my partner and our relationship.

I wish both of my parents would watch it. Even though we have afforded ourselves some legal protection with wills and powers of attorney, I still worry about what might happen if one of us dies. People who make an effort to accept a son or daughter’s spouse for the sake of family unity might not be so inclined once their child is no longer in the picture. I don’t want to consider that my partner could be scorned by my family upon the event of my death – during the very time he would be struggling through the grieving process. It is unimaginable.

Michael Jackson’s ‘This Is It’

Last Wednesday evening, I donned a wig, fedora, red satin jacket, black surgical mask, and a sequined glove to go watch Michael Jackson’s This Is It – a documentary chronicling the King of Pop’s last days. Before leaving, I jokingly referred to the four people accompanying me as my “entourage.” It turned out to be not far from the truth when they almost had to drag me to the car a few hours later.

As soon as we arrived at the theater, two women spotted me and freaked out. As other fans arrived, several began to ask if they could either photograph me or have their picture taken with me. Some brought their children to greet me, whispering in my ear that they wouldn’t know the difference. This scene continued up until we were able to go into the theater and grab some seats on the top row.

I had been looking forward to seeing this film for weeks, and it exceeded all my expectations. I saw Michael Jackson as I had never seen him before – a man in charge of the smallest detail, but a human being who was full of love and graciousness towards others and filled with concern for our planet. I have no doubt that the concerts he was rehearsing for would have been some of the best that the world had ever seen. It’s a shame that this is the closest we will ever get to seeing the final product, but also a blessing that his death has exposed so many more people to his message.

I had been expecting to have a strong emotional response to the film, but found myself only tearing up a few times – once when Michael referenced his brothers and parents, and again when he sang a few lines of “Speechless.” MJ was thin, but amazingly energetic and his voice was flawless. It was much easier to be enthralled than emotional.

As the film ended and we made our way toward the exit, people once again started coming up and asking me for photos. I met one very nice lady who insisted her kids stand beside me for a picture. She adjusted my hair, stood beside me for a snapshot, and then gave me a hug as other fans gathered around with cell phones and cameras pointed in our direction. She began talking about what a wonderful person Michael was and her eyes welled up with tears. As she walked away, I heard her daughter ask, “Mom, are you sure that’s not Michael Jackson?”

After posing outside the building with a few more beaming MJ fans, my partner insisted that I go to the car. I was getting quite a head rush from my five minutes of fame and also felt inspired that so many people in my area are fans of Michael Jackson.

There is an instant kinship among Michael’s fans. We understand what it means to love someone that the world considered to be outside the concept of normal. We know what it’s like to be ridiculed for having that appreciation, and to constantly have to defend someone whom most of us never even had the privilege of meeting in person. As crazy as it might have seemed to some, I felt honored that these people allowed me to be their substitute for the evening; a way in which they could continue to physically cling to the thing they miss the most.

‘Lake of Fire’

lakeoffireposterI just watched a very powerful documentary about abortion titled Lake of Fire. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything that moving and it’s going to take a while to digest it. If you think you know your personal position on abortion, take the time to watch it. I guarantee your views will be challenged.

Although I’ve always been mostly pro-choice, I will admit that watching actual procedures and seeing the mutilated fetuses made me question my own beliefs. In fact, my pro-choice point of view almost seems at odds with many of the other beliefs that I hold dear. Why is it that pro-lifers usually support the death penalty, while those who are pro-choice are often against it? Strange.

There were a couple of statements made in the film that really stuck with me. One was that abortion is a token issue for Republicans, much like Social Security is for Democrats. Republicans get elected because of their stance on abortion, so one commentator asked if Republicans would really want to see abortion abolished. What would that do for their political ambitions?

The other statement was one made by Cardinal Joseph Bernadine, who adopted a philosophy known as the “Seamless Garment of Life,” which “holds that issues such as abortion, capital punishment, militarism, euthanasia, social injustice and economic injustice all demand a consistent application of moral principles that value the sacredness of human life.”

There isn’t an easy answer for the important question of whether or not legal abortions should be provided, and this documentary doesn’t provide that answer, but it does give the viewer lots to think about.

‘For The Bible Tells Me So’

From the official website for the documentary titled For The Bible Tells Me So:

Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate?

Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan Karslake’s provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. As the film notes, most Christians live their lives today without feeling obliged to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath or eats shrimp (as a literal reading of scripture dictates).

Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

I’ve asked my local theater to add a screening of this documentary and I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

‘Tying The Knot’

At the recommendation of our pastor, we rented Tying The Knot, a documentary that deals with the debate over same-sex marriage. It was enlightening and disturbing at the same time.

The film dealt with the history of marriage, with the opening of marriage to gays and lesbians around the world, and with the twisted arguments of conservatives who oppose it.

I’m more convinced than ever that James Dobson from Focus On The Family is insane. They showed footage from his appearance on Larry King Live, where he stated that homosexuals really don’t want to get married, they just want to destroy marriage.

My heart broke for the two couples that were profiled in the film. One was a pair of lesbian police officers from Tampa, Florida. They had been “married” for ten years and everyone around them, including family and coworkers, knew that they were a couple and supported them. When Lois was killed in a bank robbery, the city folded and placed the flag in Mickie’s arms at the funeral, but denied her the pension normally given to surviving spouses. She sued, lost, and the pension was awarded to her partner’s family. The city is now suing her for the legal fees that they incurred as a result of her lawsuit.

Sam, a very brave older man from Oklahoma, recounted his 23 year relationship with his partner who had recently died. Although the partner has signed a will leaving him everything (including the house they had built together), the court ruled that they should have had two notary signatures instead of only one, and gave all of the property to the estranged sister of the deceased. The sister admitted that it was her brother’s signature on the will, but fought for the property anyway. She also made it clear that once she gained ownership of the home, that she would immediately place it on the market.

The court ruled in the sister’s favor, whereupon she immediately evicted Sam from his home, forcing him to move into a rundown shack that had been partially burned. She is now trying to get possession of that home, claiming that he owes back taxes.

Both cases reveal the paranoia that we must live with knowing that our relationships carry no legal weight. I often worry about how my partner would be treated by my family in the event of my passing. Would they allow religious views to get in the way of doing the right thing, or would they consider what I might have wanted? I certainly pray it will be the latter.

‘For The Bible Tells Me So’

Last week I bought the gun. Yesterday I wrote the note. But last night I happened to turn on your show and just knowing that someday I might be able to go back into my church, I threw the gun in the river. My mom never has to know.

– a boy in Iowa

This email was the inspiration for a film making it’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival titled “For The Bible Tells Me So“. It delves into the Biblical interpretations that are used to condemn homosexuality, and explores lives that have been shattered by those condemnations. The filmmakers believe their film is inspired by God and I am looking forward to seeing it.

Here’s a excellent article from the Salt Lake Tribune that offers a more in-depth look into the documentary.