Monthly Archives: June 2019

“The Melting Queen” by Bruce Cinnamon— History and Magic

Cinnamon, Bruce, “The Melting Queen”,  NeWest Press, 2019.

History and Magic

Amos Lassen

Every year since 1904, when the ice begins to break up on the North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton crowns a Melting Queen–a woman who presides over the Melting Day spring carnival and who must keep the city’s spirits up during the following winter. But this year, something has changed  and a genderfluid ex-frat brother called River Runson is named as Melting Queen. Of course River’s reign upends the city’s century-old traditions and Edmonton is split in two with progressive and reactionary factions fighting a war for Edmonton’s soul. Ultimately, River must uncover the hidden history of Melting Day, forcing Edmonton to confront the dark underbelly of its traditions and leading the city into a new chapter in its history.

Writer Bruce Cinnamon wonderfully balances satire with compassion and combines history and magic to weave a splendid future-looking tale. River while a

genderfluid male lives in a magical version of Edmonton and is destined to become The Melting Queen, a feminine figure who presides over Edmonton during its large festival, and who helps bring in spring every year.

The combination of “boring, conservative Edmonton” with a genderfluid protagonist seems strange but in the end it all works as  modern politics and historical fiction with a dash of magic come together.

“THE LAVENDER SCARE”— A Dark Time

“THE LAVENDER SCARE”

A Dark Time

Amos Lassen

Director Josh Howard’s new documentary “The Lavender Scare” looks at a dark time in the history of American government and culture. Based upon David K. Johnson’s non-fiction book we hear from talking heads that include Johnson himself, other historians, former government employees who were victims of the bans, their family members and even their persecutors. Notable figures include Joan Cassidy, who served as a captain in the Navy Reserve, and Frank Kameny, an astronomer turned activist. Kameny is by far the most interesting subject in the film. He is known as the grandfather of the gay rights movement, he was the first person to fight back against the ban and organized a protest outside the White House in 1965.

We learn of our heartbreak of those who lost their jobs and their careers and even their lives, in some cases,  as a result of the government’s tactics. We also see the triumph and the joy as we see how the policy discrimination caused a sense of outrage and activism among gay men and lesbians and helped what would become the gay rights movement.

The documentary is a mix of first and second hand accounts including FBI files and other written documents as well as plenty of context about the era of the lavender scare. The film is narrated by Glenn Close and features the voices of Cynthia Nixon, Zachary Quinto, T.R. Knight and David Hyde Pierce.

Most of us are well aware of the advances that the LGBTQ community has made in recent years in asserting their rights and gaining mainstream acceptance. Yet to truly appreciate how far we’ve come, it is important to know where we came from.

During the so-called “Red Scare” of the late Forties and Fifties, Americans became convinced that every echelon of our society had been infiltrated by communists and that our way of life was under immediate threat. This was further amplified when the Russians detonated their own atom bomb in 1949, much sooner than most experts thought they should be able to. It was  assumed that the Russians had gotten help from spies or traitors smuggling nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union and this assumption turned out to be true. In turn, this gave rise to one of the most shameful periods in our history, when constitutional rights were routinely violated in the name of national security, when disgusting individuals like Senator Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn both rose to power (Donald Trump claims that he learned all he knows from Roy Cohn and that should well explain what a piece of dirt he was). Most remember how the McCarthy hearings went after communists in Hollywood as well as in government service. Few remember what happened to the gay community.

President Dwight Eisenhower, in one of his first acts after taking office, signed an executive order banning homosexuals from working for the government (yet the first lady was allowed to drink herself to oblivion). The thinking went that socially unacceptable sexual preferences were vulnerable to blackmail (although there is no evidence that this ever occurred in America). This led to investigations of people who would be accused of being gay or lesbian.

During the Thirties and Forties, many gay men and lesbians came to Washington to get government jobs which were plentiful. There was tolerance for their lifestyle and there were plenty of bars that catered to that clientele. They were uncloseted but this very freedom would be worked savagely against them as regular attendance at a gay bar would be enough to get them fired and most went quietly, not wanting to let their secret to get out. Most were aware that they would have a hard time getting employment for the rest of their lives.

People would be brought into a room by a pair of federal ages and not allowed legal representation. Their accusers would never be identified; they would be badgered and humiliated and left little choice but to resign or their secret would come out. Most left quietly but Dr. Franklin Kameny did not. He was an astronomer for the Army Map-making Corps and was unceremoniously fired from the job he loved. Not about to take this lying down, he became an activist fighting for the rights of homosexuals; his chapter of the Mattachine Society (an early gay rights organization) was the most in-your-face chapter of the society, with Kameny organizing picketing, demonstrations and marches. In 1963, he became the first openly gay man to testify before Congress and he brought lawsuit after lawsuit trying to overturn the unjust laws which he was remarkably unsuccessful at, although nobody could doubt his intelligence and bulldog tenacity.  Eisenhower’s executive orders banning gays from government jobs were  finally overturned by President Clinton in 1995.

Director Howard uses actors (including Hyde Pierce as a young Frank Kameny) reading letters and journal entries of those affected by the persecution of that era, supplemented by interviews with historians as well as those who still survive from that era. There’s also a lot of archival footage, both of pre-Stonewall gay life and anti-Gay propaganda pieces popularizing the myth that gay men are child molesters. The narration of Glenn Close brings everything together nicely putting everything in context.

Some of the interviews are heartbreaking, such as Joan Cassidy who aspired to be the first female admiral in the United States Navy but who didn’t dare look for advancement in case her sexuality was discovered. Some are hilarious such as postal employee Carl Rizzi who offers federal agents a better picture of himself in drag for their files. Some are reprehensible, such as the audio interview with investigator Peter Szluk who takes great delight in his accomplishment of ruining lives and we cannot forget that there are still people like Szluk around today.

Kameny is interviewed here late in life but he didn’t live to see the Defense of Marriage Act overturned in 2013 (he died in 2011). He probably would have growled “We still have a long way to go” before tilting at another windmill and he’s absolutely correct on that account. Gay rights today remain very tenuous and fragile; already there is legislation that seeks to undo all that is done, particularly in red states and there is a mad man in the White House who loves gay people much less than he loved the gay Cohn and who only abides Jews because his daughter became one in order to marry a slime ball. There is still plenty of anti-gay behavior out there and the struggle to end repression for gay brothers and sisters is ongoing. It is, however, important to remember that we have come a long way. The efforts of men like Frank Kameny are important to note, if just to remind us that we need more people like him in our society even now.

“Camp TV: Trans Gender Queer Sitcom History” by Quinlan Miller— Camp Currents of TV in the 50s and 60s

Miller, Quinlan. “Camp TV: Trans Gender Queer Sitcom History”,  Duke University Press, 2019.

Camp Currents of TV in the 50s and 60s

 Amos Lassen     

Television in the 50s and 60s was very different than what it is today and looking back, many people see depictions of gender roles and attitudes toward sex as conformist but now we have a different take from Quinlan Miller who presents a new look at television history in this country and shows that camp was there and evident. He looks at the iconic shows such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and the more obscure sitcoms such as “The Ugliest Girl in Town”. He shows that shifts in the industry along with the coalescence of straightness and whiteness became visible when vaudevillian camp began its decline and the sitcoms of the period were full of gender nonconformity and queer representation. Characters appeared in supporting roles or as guests  and camp became highly regarded and in fact played a very important role in queerness on TV (Remember Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly who got away with a lot more than what we see on TV today—-we could laugh back then but to do so today makes us politically and behaviorally incorrect. Miller gives us new ways to see how popular media which was supposedly repressive actually used queer, genderqueer and transgender characters thus giving them representation on the small screen.

This is a valuable rethinking of the way things were both theoretically and historically. We get a more nuanced sense of the social world that was being made visible on television—”one in which trans figures were a significant element—than previous media scholarship has allowed.”

This is also a  very  corrective account of the multiple gendered and erotic sounds and images that made up the sitcom and a “powerful study of the camp currents of 1950s’ and 1960s’ American television comedy.” Quinlan Miller argues passionately for wants a corrective account of the many gendered and erotic sounds and images that made up the key evolutionary moment in the show that  we now know as the sitcom.

“MISS ARIZONA”— Knowing Who You Are

 

“MISS ARIZONA”

Knowing Who You Are

Amos Lassen

After being inspired by the Women’s March in fall of 2016, writer/director Autumn McAlpin wrote the script of “Miss Arizona” quickly because we were in need of a strong woman’s voice. She sees beauty is a state of mind. We meet Rose years after she won a beauty pageant and see her transformed from an ambitious young woman to an unfulfilled housewife. Her days have become tedious so she soon finds herself pulled into an unexpected adventure leading to four new friendships and one final ride for “MISS ARIZONA.” 

A bored housewife trapped in a less-than-ideal marriage, Rose (Johanna Braddy) accepts an invitation to teach a life skills class at a women’s shelter. When trouble shows up, she and a group make their getaway with the help of a former beauty queen.

What starts off as an escape quickly turns into a wild all-night adventure through the streets of Los Angeles. They experience a quick trip to the ‘drug store’ and an impromptu drag show and  the women soon discover that inner strength, and a little help from your friends, can be the key to discovering who you are meant to be. 

Stonewall 50 Manifesto: Gay Men Are Not Queers! by John Lauritsen

Stonewall 50 Manifesto: Gay Men Are Not Queers!

John Lauritsen 30 June 2019

Fifty years ago a meeting changed my life. It was in early July 1969, shortly after Stonewall. I don’t remember the exact date or where it was held, only that a heated debate was taking place over whether the newly forming group should ally with the antiwar movement. Since I’d been involved in the movement against the Vietnam war since 1965, I joined the radicals, and we prevailed. The new group would be named the Gay Liberation Front, deliberately echoing the National Liberation Front of Vietnam.

Before this I had read the few positive books on “homosexuality” and had attended homophile meetings in Boston and New York City. But GLF was a quantum leap forward. No more apologies or pleading for toleration. GLF was ready to fight militantly for our freedom, and had the political savvy from the antiwar movement to do it. For the next few months every spare moment of mine was spent on GLF. I passed out leaflets, helped build demonstrations, and worked on the dances. I was top editor, under Managing Editor Rosalyn Bramms, of the first Gay Liberation newspaper, GLF’s Come Out!.

We in GLF experienced intense camaraderie. But there was also conflict. Some people, deliberately or not, acted in ways that were harmful, and in 1971 GLF died from its own contradictions. I went on to other groups, and became known as a gay historian.

The years after Stonewall promised a new freedom. Gay publications sprang up: Gay in New York City, Gay Liberator in Detroit, Body Politic in Toronto, Gay Sunshine in California, and Gay Information: A Journal of Gay Studies in Australia. Millions of men and women accepted their homoerotic desires.

Then things began to get ugly. A commercial sex industry promoted drug abuse and distorted and self-hating forms of sex. Gay men began to get sick. The calamity that was named “AIDS” led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of gay men and the demise of Gay Liberation.

Now, fifty years from Stonewall, our main goal has been accomplished, getting rid of sodomy statutes. There have been many strides forward, especially a burgeoning of gay scholarship. In 2017 I spoke at an international conference, Outing The Past, in Liverpool, talking on underground gay scholarship. There I found that gay history is alive and well.

There have also been steps backward. None of the mainstream “LGBTQ” organizations have any of the spirit and vision of Gay Liberation. The goal of sexual freedom for all has been supplanted by identity politics, as in the metastasizing alphabetism: “LBGTQ…”. Rather than defending and celebrating a kind of love, the LGBTQ… movement focuses on kinds of persons, preferably marginal. The vaunted “inclusiveness” of the alphabetism (and “rainbow coalition” and “queer”) is deceitful: a movement for everybody is a movement for nobody. Gay men are being erased. Gay history courses and seminars, which flourished in the seventies, have been supplanted by “gender studies”.

The worst step backward is the use of the word “queer”. Here we have a word

that was and still is one of the most hateful in the American language. “Dirty queer” is what gay men heard as they were being beaten to death. Although “queer theorists” talk of “reclaiming” the word, this is dishonest, since it never belonged to us in the first place; it was always the word of our enemies. As Larry Kramer said in an interview, calling gay men queers “is like calling blacks ‘niggers’.”

In GLF we felt that “gay” — whose hidden meaning was still unknown to most people — should be the word to be used by others, as well as ourselves. It was our word and it was positive, not clinical like “homosexual”, nor timid like “homophile”, nor hateful like “faggot” or “queer”.

Although queer, like “faggot”, is understood as referring to men, some women were the earliest to use and advocate it, including Eve Kosovsky Sedgwick and Judith Butler. In addition to its inherent hatefulness, queer is unacceptable because of its core, dictionary meanings: queer, odd, spurious, worthless, deviant. Gay men are not worthless. Sex between males is not deviant or spurious.

I am not alone in opposing queer. Most gay men also strongly object to it. There is a section in my personal website, with critiques of queer by John Rechy, Wayne R. Dynes, Stephen O. Murray, Arthur Evans, and myself.

Since queer is so blatantly wrong, I’m amazed that any gay men have acquiesced in it. I can only attribute their acquiescence to self-hatred, low self- esteem, or a misguided conformity to perceived political correctness.

Queer was covertly foisted on us by our worst enemies, aided and abetted by muddle-headed academics. We should oppose its use in every way possible.

The evidence of history and anthropology confirms that human males are powerfully attracted to each other, emotionally and erotically. Male love is an ordinary and healthy part of the human sexual repertoire. The core of the problem: A powerful human drive is put down by a powerful theological taboo, a taboo shared by all three Abrahamic religions. Our task is to destroy that taboo.

My good friend, the late L. Craig Schoonmaker (founder of the pre-Stonewall group, Homosexuals Intransigent) said: “I always understood that the most important thing for gay men was to understand and assert their manhood, which was always under attack.”

The time has come for gay men to reclaim our movement — to restore and honor our heritage — to fight against our continued oppression.

________________________________________

John Lauritsen (AB Harvard 1963) was one of the earliest members of the New York Gay Liberation Front GLF) and later the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA), the Gay Academic Union, the New York Scholarship Committee, and the Columbia University Seminar on Homosexualities. He has fifteen books to his credit. The first (co-authored with David Thorstad) was The Early Homosexual Rights Movement (1864-1935), published in 1974. He is proprietor of Pagan Press, founded in 1982 to publish books for gay men.

Gay Liberation section: <http://paganpressbooks.com/GAYLIB.HTM> contact: john.lauritsen@verizon.net

“Categorically Famous: Literary Celebrity and Sexual Liberation in 1960s America” by Guy Davidson— Baldwin, Sontag, Vidal

Davidson, Guy. “Categorically Famous: Literary Celebrity and Sexual Liberation in 1960s America”, Stanford University Press, 2019.

Baldwin, Sontag, Vidal

Amos Lassen

As far as I know, “Categorically Famous” is the first book length study of the relationships between the celebrity of literature and queer sexuality. We look at James Baldwin, Susan Sontag and Gore Vidal as celebrities and their relation to the LGBT liberation movement of the 1960s. While none of these three writers ever “came out” or were publicly out as we know the term “out’ today yet all there in their own way contributed “through their public images and their writing to a greater openness toward homosexuality that was an important precondition of liberation.”  Their fame was not only important, it was crucial. We had to deal with the idea that people saw homosexuals as an oppressed minority and as individuals with psychological problems. Writer Guy Davidson here challenges scholarly orthodoxies and asks us to think again about the usual opposition to liberation and to gay and lesbian visibility within queer studies as well as standard definitions of celebrity.

I find that when I think back to how it was and then look around while living in Massachusetts, I am stunned by the progress that has been made and sometimes I just need to pinch myself.  The conventional ban on openly discussing the homosexuality of public figures back then meant that media reporting at that time did not focus on protagonists’ private lives. Yet, the careers of these “semi-visible” gay celebrities really need to be seen as an important and crucial halfway point between the days of “the open secret” and today’s post-liberation era in which queer people, celebrities very much included, are enjoined to come out.

Last night I was at a reading at my local bookstore (yes there are still some) and there were two readers, a lovely female with a novel about straight female MFA students and a gay writer with his novel about Tennessee Williams and his lover Frank Merlo. There was a full house of what I think was basically straight readers. Each writer spoke about his/her book and then asked each other questions and then opened the floor. The reception for both novels was the same, the praise for the gay novel was a bit higher simply because it had been out longer and more had read it. Otherwise it was an evening about sexuality without mentioning it. And it was wonderful!!!!

What we really have here is a detailed look at how it was before Stonewall, after Stonewall and after marriage equality. We get new information about liberation and the celebrities who helped make it happen. I love this book because I love that Davidson has found new and important things to say three literary icons and queer politics. I would love to see the look on Gore Vidal’s face as he reads this. (But then I knew him and have stories).

“Time Is The Thing A Body Moves Through”— Art and Love, Loss, Violence and Rejuvenation, Gender and Sexuality

Fleischmann, T. “Time Is The Thing A Body Moves Through”, Coffee House Press, 2019.

Art and Love, Loss, Violence and Rejuvenation, Gender and Sexuality

Amos Lassen

As a way to understand how our bodies affect how we feel about art and how art affects the relationship to our bodies, T Fleischmann looks at the artwork of Felix Gonzalez-Torres as a way to deal with issues of love and loss, violence and rejuvenation, gender and sexuality. The artworks act as “still points, sites for reflection situated in lived experience.”  Using serious engagement with clear prose and warm emotions, Fleischmann examines and enjoys the experiences and pleasures of art and the body, identity and community.

If you have ever wondered about the concept of becoming, this is the book for you.  Fleischmann disregards totally the limits of genre and gender and gives us a new  territory that is all ours and in our own language. The essay is unique and subversive
Bringing together personal narrative and art criticism in a poetically titled, genre-defying work, we explore power, desire, gender fluidity and subverting limitations Fleischmann shares wonderful words of wisdom along with miniature portraits of “friends and lovers in acts of generosity that are self-questioning but never self-doubting.” We thus gain the notion of a unified self.

Fleischmann refuses to resolve anything and instead levees us with questions to wonder about. There is so much here than I can cite but to do is to deprive the reader of a unique reading experience and I see my job is to let you know about important reads.

Fleischmann discusses their (the pronoun of choice) identity, their resistance to much of the firm language relating to queer identities in effective ways.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, ice, and sex, one’s body and how or why to live and love all come together tenderly agilely  and smartly. This could very well become one of my books of the year.

“NOX”— A Short Political Thriller

“NOX”

A Short Political Thriller

Amos Lassen

Writer/director Keyvan Sheikhalishahi’s 13-minute “Nox” is a political thriller with a wonderful  performance by Matt Passmore as Peter Marlowe, a professional burglar who works with Claire Winters (Brigitte Millar) in what seems to at first be just a simple burglary. But of course that would be too simple.

So often we daydream about how we can exact revenge on those who have hurt us but it seldom becomes more than just dreaming. In “Nox”, the lines between reality and illusion are blurred especially when we meet Peter and Claire. On election night, they break into a Senator’s home with the idea of stealing files and money. The senator is facing extortion from his ex-wife which could destroy any political hopes and quite possibly destroy his future in anything he attempts.

In a series of flashbacks, we learn that there’s something more sinister happening than just breaking and entering. Nothing in this film is simple including the motives of Peter and Claire. This is a complex story about professional burglars who ransack the home of a prominent senator’s villa too well for this to not be an inside job. As Peter works on the senator’s safe, Claire goes through the senator’s things and learns that his marriage is a mess and thst his wife (Agnès Gody) could cost him his re-election. Then these is the revelation that the wife taking a bath upstairs and then there are more twists and an unexpected ending. The tension is thick throughout.

 

 

Naturally you see that I am limited in what I can say about the film without giving something away so I need to look at other aspects than plot. I must tell you that writer/directoKeyvan Sheikhalishahi  made this film when he was just 19-years-old and like he did in his previous film. “Vesper” (that he made when he was 18) continues to show great talent and is a moviemaker to watch.

“MISS FREELANCE”— A New Look at an Old Profession

“MISS FREELANCE”

A New Look at an Old Profession

Amos Lassen

Carly (Maddy Murphy) is an attractive young woman in New York with an active night life. She works in the world’s oldest profession and is obviously good enough to meet a different man every night. Ben, one of the men she meets, seems to be her boyfriend—or he thinks he is. She is expected to partake in rile-playing when asked to but what is really interesting  is that the men are not drawn to Carly necessarily for sexual reasons but because she is a genuinely nice person to be with. For those of you who remember “Irma La Douce”, you know what I mean. 

When we hear her with Ben, for example, it sounds as if she is quite comfortable with being something of a paid sexual charity worker and her nightly trysts are all she needs, physically and emotionally. However as we watch this short, we get the feeling  that there a need there for something else. Carly comes across a truly sweet and sincere person and it is easy to see why men find her alluring. It is impossible for us, as l, to understand her and I can only wonder if her clients do. Even though we don’t always understand Carly, but we do come to care about her and in just 19 minutes.

Directed and written by Matthew Kyle Levine, we follow Carly during a week in which we see her travelling and visiting clients made up of many kinds of men who all have different desires, requests and problems. It’s up to Carly to help them with it. The movie is shot in close-ups so that we are very aware of the importance of expressions.

Timothy J. Cox, Zach Abraham, Keith Boratko and Ivan Greene play the men she meets throughout the week and each of the actors as well as Mandy Murphy are excellent. We get a look of what Carly’s world looks like and the questions that we formulate about it stay with us for quite a while after the movie is done.

 

“FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO”— Faith-based Families with LGBTQ Children

“FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO”

Faith-based Families with LGBTQ Children

Amos Lassen

When the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality, the backlash by the religious right was quick, severely hurtful and successful. “For They Know Not What They Do”, Daniel Karslake’s documentary looks at four faith-based families with LGBTQ children who are caught in the crosshairs of sexuality, identity, and scripture. This documentary follows 4 families who struggle to accept their gay and transgender child while remaining true to their Christian faith.

When the Bible teaches that homosexuality is not only wrong but unforgivable in the eyes of God, many parents with children who come out as gay or transgender become conflicted with their beliefs and their lives become a challenge learning to love their child unconditionally. This film presents the Christian faith explanation and shows how powerfully rooted it is for many people. Religion for these families is more than studying the Bible and attending church, it is dedicating one’s life to God and that God will grant them and lead them to eternal life in heaven. However, there are many rules and if a person deviates from them, they will burn in hell for eternity.

In the Christian faith, homosexuality is considered a choice. It is an activity or lifestyle that one decides to partake in and can quit at any time. Some Christian parents use strong measures to what they believe will “cure” their child of homosexual tendencies such as sending them to conversion camps where the goal is to strip you from temptation and put them back on the religious path. There is also the act of taking away any publications, movies, or items that even mention or suggest homosexual relationships. While the parents deal with their own issues of shame, frustration, and conflict, their children silently suffer, resorting to as much as drug addiction, self-harm and, and in some cases, attempted suicide. I actually know a formerly Christian woman and mother in Arkansas who now is a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights who came to this only after her daughter took her own life. The pity is that that need not have happened.

The four young adults in this film come from different backgrounds but all share similar stories of recognizing that they are different, whether it be an attraction to the same sex or not feeling connected to the sex they were assigned at birth. Because of these feelings go against their religious rules and hide who they are in hopes that it will all go away.

  • “Ryan Robertson is the son of Evangelical Christians, dives deep into depression as his parents have difficulty coping with his homosexuality. As an active participant in church, he feels misunderstood and does not fully understand how he can feel this way knowing it is against everything he was raised to believe. After trying conversion methods he resorts to using drugs to numb the agony he feels inside. Sadly for Ryan, years of heavy drugs and a final overdose leads to his passing. From that point forward, his parents learn to be more open and less fearful of what they think homosexuality is.
  • Sarah McBridecame out to her parents as transgender and it was particularly difficult as Christians because she already had an older brother that came out as gay. Not knowing what transgender meant, her parents didn’t know how to accept their son now becoming a woman. Sarah felt severe depression and doubt that she would ever meet anyone that would accept her for who she was. It was not easy but she finally came out publicly in college while serving as student body president and surprisingly gained a lot of support. She later went on to become the very first transgender intern in the white house fighting to change laws like the Bathroom Bill which those are allowed to ask anyone for ID before entering a public bathroom. Because so many transgenders are murdered in hate crimes, the fight is a hard long one but many people are now supporting more than ever.
  • Victor Baez Febohid his homosexuality from his parents knowing their Catholic religious beliefs were very strong. He moved back to Puerto Rico to live with his grandmother where he thought he could live his lifestyle and no one would find out. He was outed by a neighbor who caught him fighting with a current boyfriend. When his grandmother was contacted by the neighbor, she changed the locks on the door and told him never to return! After his parents were called, he returned back home and facing his parents was a nightmare. After the shame, guilt, and depression, he eventually moved out into his own apartment. A house warming party he had with tons of his friends at his home, turned into an outing at a gay bar called Pulse. That night was horrific, as hateful individuals entered the club and opened fire on everyone, Victor hid in a closet surviving his friends and many others who were killed that night. A member of a church actually congratulated the shooters in getting rid of all of the so-called “sinners.”
  • Elliot Porcherwas what people would call a Tom Boy growing up. She played with bugs, wore baggy clothes but deep inside she felt like a real boy. Trying to constantly express herself with clothing and outside activities, she gave up and starting dressing more feminine. Depression set in and the darker and more withdrawn she became, she couldn’t take it anymore. When she came out to her parents, they didn’t understand what it meant to feel like a boy in a girl’s body. Like most parents, they thought it was just a phase and she would eventually grow out of it. They suffered trying to come to terms with the fact that their lives would change now that their little girl would change identities completely. They chose to find a way to still have their faith and support their daughter instead of losing her to drugs or even suicide.”

There is so much to learn from each other like learning to accept our differences instead of hating or killing over them. It is also important that we love our families no matter what their sexuality is. This is an essential documentary and should be a must-watch for everyone.

In his previous film, “For The Bible Tells Me So” (2007), director Karslake didn’t address the religious families with transgender children.  He more than makes up for this with the inclusion of not one but two transgender people.  This a film of so much honesty, sadness, and joy that it is literally impossible to walk away with anything but the deepest love for the subjects and for Karslake himself for bringing them all together. What could have easily just been a collection of clippings of people with religious power spouting hatred toward homosexual and transgender people cut together with the utter despair of individuals who were directly or indirectly impacted by that hatred ends up being so much more than that.