Southern Baptists

Two Films Inspiring Social Change Toward LGBT Equality

by Becky Garrison

During the 2013 Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, I caught two films that highlight the impact religious bigotry plays in the actual lives of LGBT individuals.

In the film Bridegroom, Designing Women creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason crafted a full-length documentary out of Shane Bitney Crone’s viral video “It Could Happen to You.”

Recorded on the first year anniversary of his boyfriend Tom Bridegroom’s death, Crone conveys the gut-wrenching reality of having a partner die without the legal protections afforded by marriage. The film opens with the interweaving of the lives of these two small-town boys (pictured above) who grew up in communities where being gay meant one was forced to stay in the closet or leave town.

Both boys moved to Los Angeles where they found the love of their lives.

During the film, the audience meets Crone’s family, who freely admit their struggles to accept their son’s sexuality. In the end, their love triumphed over ideology; sadly, the same cannot be said for the Bridegroom family. While this film will make one pull out the Kleenex, this story does not end at the grave.

Rather, Crone emerges as an accidental activist who points us to a way forward for those who choose to fight for a world where people can love freely and legally.

Bridegroom will be shown at the Level Ground Film Festival, and the film is available on Netflix.

For those like me who hail from the Bible Belt, the film Southern Baptist Sissies serves as a painful reminder of a legacy that still lingers despite the passing of Jesse Helms, Strom Thurmond, and others of their ilk. This is a film of the GLAAD Award-winning theatrical production from Del Shores that follows four childhood boys coming of age within the confines of a church that condemns them to h-e-double-toothpicks.

Each character has their own trajectory, from the kid who early on embraces his inner drag queen to the anti-gay Christian crusader who denies his boyish love. Even in the production’s campiest moments, you can feel the hope of humanity breaking through. Check out the Southern Baptist Sissies Facebook page for the latest screenings of this film.

Through the medium of these films, congregations can see the real damage caused by anti-gay theology.

Hopefully, this awareness will lead to a discussion on how to reframe these hate filled narratives and move forward toward creating a world that honors and celebrates those who have been forced to the margins of civil society for far too long.

Photo via Bridegroom