Believer: A Documentary

The new documentary, Believer, is an excellent exploration of a straight man who loves God trying to discern how to respond to LGBTQ people. While it focuses on Mormon rock star, Dan Reynolds of the band Imagine Dragons, the film addresses many of the same concerns found in conservative evangelical communities. This is a heartfelt, well-crafted film that is worth watching. From a Billboard article:

“’Dan’s idea to help raise awareness for this issue was to put on a concert in Orem, Utah, a very conservative, and very Mormon community’ . . . [His] explorations don’t come without a cost. He risks fans’ alienation, as well as conflicts with family and friends. ‘It’s a terrible challenge to go into this intersection of LGBTQ individuals and communities of faith, which requires sensitivity on both sides and a lot of nuance, and that is not an easy spot to be when you’re someone like Dan.'”



Movie: Saving Face

A delightful film from lesbian director Alice Wu that follows the lives of three generations of Chinese Americans, particularly that of Wil (Michelle Krusiec) who has fallen in love with a woman, Vivian (Lynn Chen) but keeps it from her mom. Meanwhile, her widowed mom, Hwei-Ian (Joan Chen), ends up pregnant, but won’t reveal the identity of the father. A heartwarming movie with a sense of humor.

Desert Hearts

Desert Hearts came out in the 1980s, but now the movie is making a comeback. A recent slate article states: “Laura Karpman first saw Desert Hearts while a graduate student at Juilliard. Now an accomplished film composer (Underground, Paris Can Wait) and Motion Picture Academy Governor, she keenly remembers the experience of that first viewing. ‘It was life-changing,’ Karpman says. ‘I was living with a woman, but we were both kind of in the closet. I saw it with her. I remember wearing tight Guess jeans. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that. I almost had to look away and yet I couldn’t stop watching.’ For Karpman, that paradox is a sign that a movie was groundbreaking. ‘As we look to really bring equality to Hollywood, we see how important it is to see images of ourselves on the screen. Recently when I saw Wonder Woman, I had the same reaction: I didn’t know how much I needed to see what I saw.'”

Trembling Before G-d

Filmmaker Sandi DuBowski describes his documentary Trembling Before G-d as one that “shatters assumptions about faith, sexuality, and religious fundamentalism. Built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, the film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma — how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality. . . Faiths in the 21st century — Anglicans, Episcopalians, Methodists — are all deeply struggling with gender and sexuality, but with Trembling Before G-d, for the first time, this issue became a live, public debate in Orthodox Jewish circles, and the film was and is both witness and catalyst to this historic moment. What emerged is a loving and fearless testament to faith and survival and the universal struggle to belong.” The filmmakers hope the movie will spark of movement of positive change.

Jennifer Knapp on Faith, Sexuality, and Music

In the late 1990s, Jennifer Knapp became a Christian music sensation. A brand new Christian, having converted in college, she had a fresh, edgy style to her music. For the next decade she toured before suddenly disappearing from the scene. Burned out by the Christian music industry and coming to terms with her sexuality, she and her partner lived in Australia for several years before she finally returned to the US to resume singing and songwriting. This time as an openly gay Christian. Below she gives a TEDx talk.

See also her appearance at Vanderbilt: