Friday, January 19, 2007

We're Planning 2007 God & Gays: The Conference

We are so buzzing around the production office these addition to booking appearances at Universities, churches, conferences and Pride celebrations in 2007, we're also flitting about putting together this year's God & Gays Conference! I am certainly very excited as it's my little baby. The movie is Luane's baby and what she does best and the conference is mine and what I do best. We're great professional as well as personal partners, as you can see.

I'll give you a hint about this year's'll be in the east side of the US. We're only having one this year and since it's the only one, like an only child, it's getting all the attention and the best stuff thrown at it.

As we get closer to our announcement date in April, I'll drop more clues. It's the best line up I've ever seen on this topic. I'm just blown away at the energy, enthusiasm and talent that's involved. All of us working on it are very clear in our intention to make it historical, unique, mind-blowing, heart-changing and life-altering.

So far, so great. It's hard for me to keep such an exciting secret until the time is right, but I'm gonna try. Just know that it's coming and to keep a vacation day free to attend. Start budgeting the airfare and hotel so you have a clear path to be there, no obstacles.

Intend to be there. Really. You will not want to miss this conference, it's like no other...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gender Identity Crisis and Dr. Phil

On Wed Jan 17, Dr. Phil had a show on gender identity crisis. He opened the show with a transgender female to male (FTM) who had felt like a man all her life and wanted to have her breasts surgically removed in order to feel more comfortable and right with her body. She then plans on living fully as a man. Her mother and aunts are firmly against it. They handled her being a lesbian, but this is too much for them and feel they need to stop her...even though they don't understand why she wants the transformation. They don't need to, understanding isn't necessary, but support and compassion is. Do they love and want to protective their relative, absolutely no's just how they go about it and being blinded by the boundary of where they stop and the other person starts.

The first thought we had while seeing the episode was of excitement since we rarely hear of Dr. Phil acknowledging GLBT people and their struggles in a somewhat ignorant society. But, as soon as I saw how they placed the stage furniture and how it was three of the trans' relatives against her, facing each other in opposition, it was going to get ugly and ugly it did get. Was there violence or hatespeech? No. But nevertheless abuse. Verbal abuse came from the trans' aunt who actually had brought a Bible with her on the show. They were raised Catholic and there's actually a good few minutes were the aunt said over and over again that Jesus will quench her desires of the lifestyle and to just accept God and Jesus into her heart.

It sounds sweet, caring and loving on the surface. But here's the rub: it was making the judgment and assumption that the trans FTM wasn't already in divine alignment. The assumption is that if someone is GLBT, they aren't in relationship and obedience to God when the opposite is almost always true, which is why they come out. While the aunt went off, the FTM tried to explain that her God is a loving God and Jesus is in her heart already but the aunt kept going to the point that the FTM just sat there, battered and shut down, ganged up against.

What breaks our hearts the most on this is that Dr. Phil didn't intervene. He didn't stop the aunt from these horrific assumptions. He didn't tell the family to go to PFLAG, to seek out their own resources to find a way to love their relative through this process no matter what, he didn't offer them counseling, he didn't put the harmful behavior in check, he didn't make them accountable to their judgment, reminding them that their lack of comfort around this surgical decision is their own, it has NOTHING to do with the FTM person. It's their own baggage and discomfort and they're pushing it onto the FTM, which will just drive the FTM into more isolation, anger and who knows what - but it won't be beneficial.

The FTM probably trusted she was in a safe and protected environment and then wasn't protected at all, while on a national television show, vulnerably talking about body parts and orientation.

The rest of the stories, Dr. Phil was more compassionate and understanding which was fantastic to see. My heart just ached for the the FTM and it's because this kind of situation is happening all over the country, we made the film and are touring. We've asked Dr. Phil's show for permission to show portions of the episode so if you missed it, you can catch up on it. We'll let you know when we have it available.

Overall, we're still thrilled Dr. Phil did this show. I think talking about these issues and putting human faces to them is crucial to the solution so we're grateful he took them on and showed areas of the conversation that still needs some work.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Out in America Reviews God & Gays

We're heading to Columbus, OH next week and a writer for Out in America did a review on our film. He lives in Columbus so I hope he'll come to the screening and we get to meet him to say thank you.

We appreciated his comments on the movie and the powerful endorsement he gives at the end of the article. We can see that our intentions with the movie are being met when we see press print back to us what we're wanting to accomplish, and they get it from the movie, on their own. The author says, "God and Gays is powerful and attitude-altering and is the cornerstone of new awareness of the diversity in the LGBT community and the issues within that are so troubling. Socially and politically rousing, I recommend this film for those who are struggling with religion, sexuality, and family acceptance. It could save your life, a loved one or familial relationships; that’s worth the time spent watching."

There's also a posting from a pastor in Tucson who has seen the movie, we're thinking he was at our screening there last October, "
Yes, this documentary is very powerful and I know all the hurts and deep wounds of our beloved lgbt community... so I urge every gay and lesbian and straight person to see this film and take your family members. I would also ask that we all return to our houses of worship and stand up and be proud of who we are and we can be faith filled people too. I know, I know you all hate organized religion, but let's be more mature in our living and show the world we are awesome people and GOD loves US too! Now here is the link to the movie: Let's be a blessings to each other and show the world a better way."

We're so grateful!!

Ya know, it's just inspiring when you make something out of nothing, like a movie, and others see it and get what you're trying to do and say. There's a couple corrections we'd like to offer to the article too. The first is that we only shot Jason Stuart in Los Angeles, the rest of the interviews were in different parts of the country and with folks from all over the place, from Virginia to Arkansas to Colorado to California. The second correction is the movie's attention to fundamentalism. Some folks experience that, yes of course, but people like Laura describe her experiences from the local "non denominational" mega church. We wanted people who were all over the map and she, and myself actually, don't have backgrounds in fundamentalism per se, but in the "seeker-friendly" mainstream churches.

The last correction is the narrow scope mentioned. The movie is actually the opposite. We deliberately didn't mention specific denominations and religious backgrounds because we didn't want people who weren't of those denominations to separate themselves out and say, "oh, well, I'm not Catholic so this doesn't apply to me."

Au Contraire. We made that choice in editing because we found it EXACTLY the same experience, no matter what the denomination and religion. The story is for anyone familiar with any religion that uses written doctrine and/or tradition to control, instead of a relationship with the heart of God. So, we actually were shooting to show the similarities, in order to be consistent with the message of oneness. If you're struggling with this issue, it doesn't matter if your Lutheran, Catholic, Jewish or Hindu. The experience of rejection, isolation, struggle, suicidal thoughts, loss of friends, jobs and family members is exactly the same. That's because we are the same.

The dividing and segmenting doesn't work. The separation between experiences and religions doesn't work. It just creates more division. More, "no one understands what I'm going through" when it's not true. So, let's try something new, getting back to the basics that we're all in this together, as one, as God intended from the beginning.

Thank you again to Out in America, the author and the comments posted. We're honored to be a part of their publication.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ohio Update - Selling out in 72 hours

Wow. We've been blown away by the response we're getting as we pack up our gear again and start our Spring 2007 tour in Ohio. We tried to fit in Ohio in the fall, but I wasn't satisfied fitting in Ohio. Didn't feel right and I'm sure glad we were patient. Now, we're in Columbus on Jan 23rd and in Toledo on Jan 25th. We're getting some fantastic time to meet with local religious leaders and Equality Ohio. We'll be a part of a fantastic panel at a Columbus jewish temple and then the screening that night. The screening sold out quickly less than a week ago and then they moved it to a larger theatre and in less than 72 hours, they filled it up again. So, please come to the panel and the Toledo showing if you're in the area, seats are still available in Toledo. Go to the God & Gays website for event details.

We learned that Ohio is LAST on the list for being a welcoming state to GLBT people. For example, if you're gay, it doesn't matter how incredible you are at your job, wonderfully personable and loved by your co-workers, you can still be fired just because you're gay. Amazing, isn't in Silicon Valley for awhile, I just can't fathom the justification of such inhumanity. It's no different than if you were too short, too tall, hair was too could be fired for curly hair. It's the same absurdity. Well, being gay can be offensive and uncomfortable in the workplace? For one, those who are uncomfortable are the ones needing change, not the gay person who's being how God created them. Now if they are gay AND have curly hair....oye.

Alas, there are tremendous shifts going on. King Ave. Methodist church is a huge supporter of the screening and the events are headed by Ohio State University's multicultural center. I'm proud to be associated with these institutions and look forward to blogging from Ohio. We'll let you know how it all goes and we hope to see you at the screenings.

Monday, January 15, 2007

St. John's Atlanta

God & Gays is partners with Soulforce and we get their newsletter which recently had a great list of MLK videos to recommend. Since Mel White founded Soulforce based on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi principles, I tend to listen to the recommendations. I'm a student of MLK and Gandhi as well, which is one of the reasons we sought out Soulforce first when we barely had the idea for the documentary under way.

They also included a story and prayer vigil on an Atlanta Lutheran pastor who will be in hearings this Friday based on charges put up by a fellow Lutheran pastor. I pasted the story below, as well as the link for more information on the prayer vigil.

We've contacted the pastor and expressed our unconditional support and appreciation for him. We're looking to Atlanta as a tour stop area and if are in that area, let us know so we can notify you when we're heading to town. For now, we'll keep our focus on someone who needs the positive energy and focus. Thanks for caring about strangers. You know what Jesus says about that... :)

On August 8, 2006, Bishop Ronald Warren of the Southeastern Synod filed formal charges with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) against Pastor Schmeling because of his committed relationship with Rev. Darin Easler. Currently, the ELCA has a policy that excludes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in relationships from the ordained ministry. The congregation, which stands in solidarity with Pastor Schmeling, prays the ELCA will change its policy or that Bishop Warren will drop the charges before a disciplinary hearing is scheduled to begin on January 19, 2007.

During the hours that the trial is in session, members of St. John's will keep vigil in the sanctuary. Those wishing to keep watch and pray in solidarity during this time with others around the world may register online in blocs of 1 1/2 hour. Your name will appear in the online list, along with others who are in vigil, and will be posted at the church and at the trial site. (You can register anonymously if you wish.) A meditation guide of readings will also be available for printing. Please forward this request to join the online prayer vigil to as many people as possible. We want to demonstrate to the hearing committee and to the ELCA just how many people are watching and praying.

Go to to sign up for the prayer vigil.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Gays, Fish & Catholics

There's a knarly public debate going on about the Los Angeles Archdiocese updating the Christian fish symbol to include the rainbow colors, which are used to represent gay pride. Their website is very open about their mission in being inclusive for every person and their faith communities.

One article, and there are many, gives a lot of space to the Biblical Family Advocates' response.

What I find most interesting is the rainbow fish symbol has been used for years...and years for Christian gays and lesbians. The open and affirming churches who make the commitment and proactive decision to participate in gay pride marches every June usually are wearing the pins, and proudly, whether they are gay or straight. As they see there's no difference between the two in their perspective, in their eyes, just like God's. God made us all, end of story. It's not more complicated than that and I still am so very puzzled at the energy, the anger, the money, the hate, the control, the pain that is aggressively utilized to make it more complicated.

I used to teach a media theory class at a California University. I loved it. The discussions we'd One idea we'd talk about in depth is the use of master symbols. Master Symbols are things, ideas, objects, images that when used over and over again in a controlled context, establish and stabilize an emotional relationship, allegiance and obedience from people.

Here's an example. What comes to your mind first when I write "nazi". The swastika on a German flag? Hitler? What about the emotions you're feeling? Usually, there's immediate distaste, a sinking feeling in our gut, maybe a rise in heart rate, a scowl on our face...different physical manifestations expressing how feel inside.

So, the fish symbol, as described in the linked article, comes from the Greek word "ixthys" which is an acronym for Jesus Christ is God. I'm sure you've seen the stickers or magnet fish on the back of minivans and SUV's, maybe you've even seen the offshoots of an animal eating the fish as a means to express evolution instead of creationism as the world's beginning.

With the contextual repetition of the fish symbol in Christian and Catholic circles, the value was formed of that segment of society as owning its use and meaning. They defend their permission of free speech to use it as well. When the Darwinists pollute it or apparently the gay community, it's some form of disgrace. As if to say, the usage of the symbol is more important than the people expressing through it. They are allowed to use it and control its meaning, it's for no one else to touch and/or have a different opinion.

It's indicative of the whole debate of religion and spirituality. That religion is more important than the person. The how something is expressed is more important than the who and the what.

The bottom line I used to say to the class is, ultimately, in this example, the fish on the minivan is nothing more than plastic and adhesive. It's only as valuable as we claim it to be. To a retailer of a Christian bookstore, the sticker's value is $2.99. To the Biblical Family Advocates, it's more valuable than human beings wanting to live as how God created them.

I often do motivation checks on myself, making sure I act only out of integrity. When a thing becomes more important than a human being, it's time to chill and do some surrendering to God. There's a lesson there for me to learn and I'm forever a student on this path of life, learning every day.

Congrats to the LA Archdiocese, I'm proud of them for getting the lesson and living out loud, Christ-like.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

More of a GLBT community than we realize

We were recently privy to a presentation on how to market to the gay community. I giggled when I heard of the recent publications in the marketing community as it finally turns its focus at a macro level to advertising to the gay community niche. I giggled because this is progress. Having spent time in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the technological world that makes this blog possible, it's been common practice for YEARS in high-tech to hire whoever was the best in what they do. Corporations figured out a long time ago to be color, religion and preference "blind" when making hiring choices. In order to stay competitive and attract the best minds, if the person was gay or not, didn't matter to the company bottom line. So, I knew when the advertising market started to take the gay community seriously, the barriers built upon discrimination would continue to fall, like the Berlin Wall.

There's so much money at stake at ad agencies, a false move loses millions of dollars. But they are also the risk takers. With more television, film, book and online content created for, by and to the gay community, advertisers are psyched to get a piece of the discretionary income pie in a marketplace oft filled with singles and couples without kids. Cha-ching.

So, here's some stats from the presentation that you may find interesting.

- There's 15+ million GLBT adults (over 18 years old) in the US (this is a severe conservative underestimation)
- Approx 8 million men, 6 million women who self-identify as "out"
- Gays live in 99.3% of the US Counties
- Over 2 million known gay coupled-families with kids under 18, one in four same-sex couples

So, if you're struggling, by sheer numbers, you aren't alone. You are not the only gay person in town. Plus, perhaps this helps make sense why people want the tax breaks and government acknowledgment for protect families, in whatever shape and form they may come in.

I have many many more stats and will share them here and there in this blog. For reference on the latest book published on marketing to the gay community, check out Business Inside Out: Capturing Millions of Brand Loyal Gay Consumers

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Gift of an Eraser - Happy New Year & We're Coming to Ohio!

Hi everyone, and happy new year from Luane and I. Thank you again for your support during the fall launch of God & Gays and our first ever tour. Things are really ramping up for our touring schedule which starts Jan 23rd in Ohio. We'll continue to update our website with dates as they become available and don't be shy about emailing our booking folks if you'd like us to come to your University, church, organization.

We're really excited to be working with Ohio State and Equality Ohio on Jan 23rd and then Univ of Toledo on the 25th. We've been working with OSU for several months to get a date locked as they were one of the first to work with us and it's finally happening! We're very excited. One of the reasons we didn't make it to Ohio during the fall was because we would have had to squish them in and I'm not cool with that. I wanted to spend quality time in Ohio, meet with political and religious leaders, be available for trainings and talks. Because of that patience, it's paying off. Our OSU host is doing a phenomenal job rallying the troops like local churches and Equality Ohio and we may have a panel discussion with...well, I shouldn't say until it's finalized. He's a major leader in a major organization nationwide and being in his presence is always an honor. Working with him on reconciliation at a micro and macro level is the best work I can spend my time doing. Stay tuned on details on the events at the Ohio screenings.

In the meantime, here's something to start off your 2007 with self-unity in mind. Thanks to my uncle for posting this on our family's group site:

The Gift of an Eraser

A new year is upon us,
Fresh goals are being set;
But doubts and fears still linger
From past ones we haven’t met.

Erase away those doubts, and fears
That you will not succeed.
Commitment and positive attitude
Are really all you need.

You have it in you to reach your goal,
Of that I have no fear.
So “erase” those mistakes and look ahead
To a new beginning for a new year.

Please take this little eraser
To help you create a clean slate.
Wipe away doubts, fears, and failures.
In 2007, you’re going to be GREAT!