Second Installment in Adventist LGBT+ Short Film Series ‘Outspoken’ Released Today

Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer released the second installment today in their ten-part series of short documentaries titled “Outspoken.” The films feature the stories of LGBT+ Adventists.

As previously reported, this is the third major project for the husband-and-wife team that deals with the intersection of sexuality, gender, and Adventism.

The ‘Outspoken’ series is being released exclusively online on the first Friday evening of each month. The first installment was released on February 3.

Akers and Eyer hope the short-film format will make online sharing via social media easier, and help to foster listening among a wide audience.

“For this new series, we wanted to highlight stories of people who are giving back, showing up, and creating,” Akers said.

Included in the series are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people as well as parents. “We’ve really felt convicted about how isolating and lonely it is for Adventist parents of LGBT children with so much misinformation and judgement,” Akers said. “Some parents have said that when their children come out of the closet, they go in a closet.”

Alberto Barcenas, Philip Smith, and their daughter, Dalia, are featured in the short film released today. Barcenas and Smith wrote an essay for Spectrum in 2014 about their journey and desire for community within the Adventist church.

“Both Philip and Alberto grew up typically Adventist, and they loved their childhood family memories that revolved around their local church, potlucks, Pathfinders, and Wednesday night meetings. When they started dating their senior year of college, they started talking about having children on their second date. They always knew they wanted kids, and they always knew they wanted to raise those children Adventist,” Akers said.

When discussing why Barcenas and Smith were the perfect subjects for the ‘Outspoken’ film series Akers said, “Their way of being outspoken is by continuing to show up. It's an intentional choice on their part to "chip away" at those who might object. They know that by showing up and participating, they will change hearts and minds. They do realize not everyone can [do] that, but it's their call. Their gentle hearts, deep grace, and persistent resilience is remarkable.”

WATCH: Philip and Alberto – Outspoken

Philip and Alberto - Outspoken

Alisa Williams is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

Image Credit: Film still from Philip and Alberto – Outspoken.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7902

I have now watched the first and this, the second installment of Stephen and Daneen’s ‘Outspoken’ series, and I am so happy they are putting such obvious effort into this. These are voices that are seldom heard by the majority of SDAs. Even I, who have quite a number of LGBTQ+ SDA friends and a daughter who is lesbian, am learning more of what a struggle it is for individuals like Philip and Alberto to find a place within the SDA church. I hope that greater familiarity will lead to greater understanding, which will eventually lead to greater acceptance of couples like this in the SDA church. Maybe such greater acceptance will then lead to other such couples, who are not as brave as this couple, to finding their way to church. I don’t think most people even begin to realize how difficult it is for gay couples to even decide to attend an SDA church, let alone attend regularly. I continue to pray that God will soften our hearts so that such difficulties will be removed.

Thanks again Stephen & Daneen!

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Thanks Stephen and Daneen for putting yet another face on what it’s like being gay and an Adventist. This is a great couple, just trying to be and raise a family in a christian home, something the naysayers will never tolerate, much less endorse. I admire them for their resiliency of wanting to remain Adventist. I’m glad you didn’t reveal the specific church they attend, or it would no doubt be the subject of contempt and ridicule, much like what has happened to the Chico
church. I was back in California last week, so I drove to Chico and attended church there last Sabbath. It was the first time I’ve been in an SDA church in about 6 months. I was very impressed of their inclusiveness. To God be the glory, great things He has done.

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Yes, I feel like I’m continually learning, even though I’ve already learned so much. The whole concept of the church directory surprised me as a blind spot. I can see myself blithely asking a same-sex family if they scheduled a photo appointment without thinking of what I’m asking. It really requires allies to show up and be more aware to help stand in the gaps too. I think most of us think of the big things one might have to endure–the condemning and blatantly anti-LGBT sermon. But I’ll bet it’s really the little slights and injustices like church directories and getting passed over to take a turn as the welcome that adds up. What’s so incredibly remarkable about Philip and Alberto is their remarkable capacity to forgive, be patient, and keep showing up. They are outspoken in the most quiet, gentle way just by showing up every Sabbath. They call out the best in all of us, and I really hope and pray their story is received in the manner in which they shared it. This is a beautiful and deeply faithful family.

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Thanks, @Alisa Williams.

I’m a person who does not believe that people who express sexuality outside of “heterosexual norms” should be harassed, mistreated, or belittled. However, I hold rather, and mostly, conventional views regarding, for example, homosexuality and the church.

For this reason, I think @daneenakers and Stephen Eyer’s film work—what I’ve seen of it; like, for example, these first two installments of the Outspoken series—is something that I will watch, but by which I will ultimately be unpersuaded or moved.

Put another way, what’s fairly obvious about their output is the high skill and deep gift for storytelling that they apply to documenting these subjects. One finds one’s self really caught up in the narratives of these people for the short time that one is watching them. You really do have to stay with pieces to the end.

Despite documenting these subjects, though, these are not really documentary pieces (and not that their makers ever said that they were). I say this, not because the filmmakers clearly have a position on the subject they cover, but because they present that position, only. These films are more like profiles, though their harshest critics will call their work propaganda.

These shorts are ones for people who’ve, essentially, taken a “live and let live” attitude to the question of, for example, how the Seventh-day Adventist Church should regard homosexuality when it is openly practiced by members, given the denomination’s doctrinal conclusions. This qué sera, sera approach dominates these films, despite the fact that, in the denomination, this issue is a sparking, snaking, live wire.

On that question of Church practice—one to which gay Adventists could add much—the duo’s subjects are typically silent. This was the conundrum to which I most wanted an answer when I first heard of the couple’s Seventh-Gay Adventists film, in 2012. That wasn’t the film that they wanted to make, it’s clear, and nor are these new ones.

Which doesn’t mean they are absent theology. “We believe in what the Adventist Church believes; most of it,” states Philip Smith, in the “Philip and Alberto” short. More than the previous film, “Yeshara,” “Philip and Alberto” take on some of these concerns, albeit obliquely.

For example, in a sequence at the 9:19 mark, Alberto Barcenas recalls being tolerated and, it seems, patronized, by fellow SDAs who tell him that he’s welcome in the church, despite his “lifestyle.”

“I have been here since I was born,” Alberto replies, imagining what he would like to have said to such speakers. “Like, this is my church. I welcome you to my church. We have just as much a right to be here as you do.”

Well, technically, no, because, from the church’s position, his relationship puts him outside of the bonds of membership and its privileges. Without parsing this much, there is nothing “sinful” about a chaste gay man having a chaste gay roommate, were Alberto claiming that. Of course, he isn’t. That’s not the relationship being depicted here, and, in many SDA congregations, Alberto & Philip would’ve had to have forfeited their memberships, long ago.

These are complexities. This is not what the filmmakers want to discuss. So, should we watch these movies?

If you believe that a key, extant issue is doctrinal, then, what difference does it make if you do or if you don’t?

HA

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Is the objective behind these short films to encourage us to let down our guard and accept homosexuality as a open and legal practice within the S.D.A. Church ? If that were so , would /could it still be called a sin to practice homosexuality ? Societal norms have changed. Are we attempting to change the norms within the church ? In my church, the doors are open . Mind you, you might have trouble finding a place to sit. (smile ) . I cannot convert someone. Only the Holy Spirit can. I am commissioned to up hold the standards of Christ , which are reflected in His church. That being said, " We are All admonish to live up to those standards. " .If the standards are being questioned , then you must take that up with Jesus.

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Harry, are you willing to think for yourself, or do you only depend on “the church’s position”? Are you swayed at all by the fact that a large minority of church theologians, pastors, educators and administrators, who have studied this question careful and thoroughly, are convinced that “the church’s position” needs revising? If you are willing to study it more, and read a few of the many books discussing the theology of what the Bible says, in context with historical and cultural awareness of when it was written, then perhaps your objections would hold more weight. Is your heart not stirred by the difficulties, loneliness, and pain faced by LGBTI people who have the same desires for a home and family that you and I do? Please let your heart be touched by these stories.

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The question I have for those LGBTQ individuals is, “Is Jesus enough for you?” Don’t you think Jesus may have wanted to have a wife and children and be a normal human being like all of us? Yet He didn’t. Why not? Because it was not the will of the Father that He should do so. Jesus chose to submit to the Father’s will in everything including His need for intimacy and has set an example for all of us that to obey God is more important than following worldly wise men who try to rationalize away the Word of God by appealing to human psychology, cultural context, and other forms of situational ethics.

If history and culture are to be more highly regarded than a “Thus saith the Lord”, then this opens the floodgates to all manner of sinful thoughts and acts as long as societal standards accept and approve them. Truth becomes totally relative. Do as thou wilt takes the place of the law of God.

If I were to interpret Scripture the way you do, then there should be no sexual taboos of any kind including polygamy, incest, pedophilia, bestiality as long as they are practiced in societies where they are not illegal. In fact, even human sacrifice and cannibalism cannot be condemned as long as they are practiced in the proper historical and cultural context.

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given that our mandate is to reach all people with the three angels’ messages, 9T:19, something must be done about the fact that gays, as a group, are not attending our churches…i don’t know how many xmas and new year’s eve dinners i’ve attended at various bathhouses and private parties where, after successfully turning the conversation towards spiritual considerations, somebody says there’s no point in having anything to do with god or religion because churches hate gays…i think this common perception of churches is a hindrance to witnessing…i’m now at a point where i never mention any church affiliation when i’m in gay circles unless i’m specifically asked…

several yrs ago - 1995, to be precise - the high-octane evangelist, leo schreven, came to my church for an evangelism series…aside from his good looks and definite gift of gab, the thing i really liked about leo was his tendency to tell it like it is…he stepped on so many toes in his very first meeting, i think there was concern that none of the non-adventists attending would return…but return they did, and in droves…by the time he finished his series, there was a record number of baptisms into my church…three of these baptisms i can think of are now husbands of girls who grew up in the church…they’re all still big on their faith and their loyalty to the church…

but the thing i winced at during one of leo’s sermons was his extreme fire and brimestone approach to homosexuality…i wrote him a long letter afterwards, explaining the fact that orientation is real, and that many gays, in choosing to follow the truth of their orientation over and above significant opposition, sometimes even from family members, are giving evidence of a level of integrity that should be honored, and respected…i assured him that many gays are into rubber-meets-the-road honesty, but no-one wants to be vilified and shouted at…i urged him to find a way to incorporate the bible’s testimony on our inherited, biological fallen nature into his discussions on homosexuality, which is the understanding that turned everything around for me…i never heard back from leo…he has now committed suicide, so i’ll have to wait until i see him in heaven to learn whether anything i said to him had any impact…

but i’m starting to think that part of the answer for our church with respect to homosexuality may be what i suppose we can call “incubator churches”, such as what the chico church and other california churches i know of appear to have become…of course kinship has been around for yrs, but even though they won the GC’s lawsuit against them over the use of the SDA name, they aren’t exactly a denomination with an impressive worldwide reach like official adventism…for an estranged gay person born and raised in the adventist church, affiliation with kinship, while probably constructive, wouldn’t be the same as membership and integration in the church they know and recall…and i’m quite sure that secular gays, having no church background whatsoever, would be favorably impressed with what our world church has to offer, namely a female prophet and founder who received supernatural visions; a worldwide educational and healthcare infrastructure; and above all, an invisible savior who has power to recreate the heart and mind from within…and let’s face it: we are the only denomination with a credible view of the future, including the second coming of christ, which almost everyone is naturally interested in…

the reality is that we now have black churches, white churches, latino churches, filipino churches, asian churches, celebration churches, conservative churches, university churches, big city churches, small town churches and a number of other varieties of churches…perhaps we could concede that we have a few gay churches, where the emphasis is on inclusion, and nothing more…if incubator churches are to be accepted as truly denominational, they of course would have to acknowledge, at least under the table, what the bible teaches on everything, including homosexuality…but perhaps church members could be left to discover and inquire about some of these things on their own, and at their own pace…i recall that PUC’s pastor jonathan henderson - formerly from an oakland SDA church - was the featured speaker at alberta’s campmeeting not too long ago…somehow the subject of homosexuality came up in one of his sermons…the point he made was that homosexuality, like the wearing of jewelry, should be left to personal conviction…i thought he was saying that the message of truth should never be altered, but that in some cases, like homosexuality, we should leave it to the individual to respond to conviction, rather than subject him to some sort of enforcement tribunal…i’m quite sure that this is what many churches are already doing with things like meat-eating and abortion…i think this is an approach worth trying with gays…after-all, what we’re doing now isn’t working…

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Jeremy –
LGBTIO’s DO NOT VISIT SDA churches because they ARE NOT WANTED.
We have signs around – GL’s NOT WELCOME!

the MCC churches, yes. Many Non-Denominational, YES. Episcopalian, YES.
Some Methodist, YES. Unitarian, YES.

SDA, NO!
It is part of our 28. NO!

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Really. You can’t be serious.

This couple already let the world know that if the pastor speaks on Homosexuality, they will leave. So much for the argument of “If they get offended and leave the fellowship, how will they ever hear the truth?” They are demanding a one-way tolerance.

Imagine if certain families at church got up to leave every time the pastor addressed a sinful tendency/weakness of theirs! There would be “exodus” every week. Sometimes a family or two or three, sometimes basically everyone. The pastor would smarten up and instead of having folks leave during the sermon, he/she begins by letting the congregation in on the topic and then allowing the saints several minutes to make their escape.

(The ones that really need to hear it.)

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What do we hear from the pulpit, the television (Doug Batchelor), from the uberconservative blogs, and from the GC? Is it just one position? Is it then propaganda?

[I’m not asking Harry Allen specifically]

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Inside the ark, we continue to reinforce marginalizing, and bigotted stereotypes homosexuality. In the ark, our young people (from grade school through college age) carry the same homophobia of their parents and their grandparents. In the face of such intergenerational bigotry, we will hold fast the barrier between the sinful (not accepting into membership LGBTs), and preserving membership for the other sinful (but not that sin). The idea of “incubator churches” is as ludicrous as separate but equal regional conferences or second class credentialing of female pastors

What is interesting to me is that for young people who have not be sheltered in the ark of our church (and unexposed to the “world”), the issue of sexual identity is a non-issue and here we come back to the notion of relevancy. The SDA church is hemorrhaging those young people who are striving to live as citizens of this world with their dual citizenship in the Kingdom of Christ. The hypocrisy of the SDA church is not lost on them. As noted in the nearly forgotten Barna Study of SDA millennials, over a third young people still attending church look at our church and strongly agree that the church is Intolerant of Doubt, Exclusive, Antiscience, Overprotective, Shallow, and Repressive.

If we cannot see this disconnect, then I pray, that the fragmentation of the SDA church come quickly. To be a World church united, our only hope is for a great reconciliation within the church that focuses around the concept, not of monolithic unity, but pluralistic unity that embraces diversity.

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A Stephen and Daneen,

What a warm and compassionate portrait of loving parents raising an adorable little girl as an Adventist!

Those of us who are blessed and privileged to have children and grandchildren know the joys ( and sorrows ) that parenting brings, but few would forgo this wonderful experience.

As we age, it gives us great comfort to know,
that children and grandchildren will be there for us,
when we become frail (or demented ),
and in need of assisted living or hospice care.

COMING OUT MINISTRIES ( and others ) who require gays/lesbians to be lifelong celibates, focus on the SEXUAL ABSTINENCE, as if this were the only price to pay, for being celibate.

It is actually one of the LEAST losses incurred by celibacy!

Celibacy demands an even greater deprivation:
—the EMOTIONAL EMPTINESS due to the absence of loving, caring, support, devotion, loyalty, companionship, sharing, that spouses bring.

A further loss, rarely mentioned, by advocates for celibacy, is the loss of children and grandchildren.

The intense JOY that Philip and Alberto derive from parenting Dalia, just RADIATES through this exquisite and tender movie!

While single folk can have ( with modern medical technology ) biological offspring, and can also adopt, raising children as a single parent is woefully difficult.

I know more and more gay couples, both male and female, who are choosing to have biological offspring. This is an expensive and a legally complex task for male couples, who have to obtain surrogate ( paid ) mothers to carry their children to term. But many are so desirous of having their own children they will spend a hundred thousand dollars to achieve this.

Lesbian couples do not need a surrogate mother, but having a "test tube " baby can cost twenty thousand dollars, and may require several successive trials, of equal expense, before a successful pregnancy is achieved.

We are not told whether Dalia Is an adopted or biological child. ( none of our business ) but the joy these two Dads derive from her is magnificently manifest!

My wonderful orthodox Jewish friend, was a hateful homophobe and could barely endure attending his lesbian daughter’s wedding. Now that she has had two biological boys, he has become a DOTING grandfather!

So those heterosexuals who are such staunch advocates of celibacy,
should ask themselves the pertinent, provocative question :
how willing would they be to forgo having their children/ grandchildren,
had they been unfortunate enough to be gay/lesbian?

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Here is yet another situation where CHURCH dogma based on doctrine gets in the way of Christianity. If you believe, with all your heart, that homosexuality is a sin, you would have to place that sin in the same category as “using God’s name in vain - not telling the truth - disrespecting parents - breaking the Sabbath - stealing - coveting”. Taking it further, according to Jesus’ own words, it would be on the same level as “perpetuating anger - retaliating perceived injustice - not loving your enemy”. “He without sin let him cast the first stone.”

If church practice were to stick to making God’s Word available to its congregation, without social and political agendas, what is or isn’t sin on a personal level would be left up to the Holy Spirit to reveal, without the help of church boards.

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Straight people sometimes walk out, too. Members of my family (adult niece & family, adult nephew & family, brother and his wife) walked out of their Adventist Church in Oregon when an anti-gay video was shown. None of them are gay. But they are very compassionate, caring people. My niece and family rarely attend church anymore because of this, which I find sad. But a seeming lack of compassion for gay people does disillusion some straight Adventists.

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Having read the above comments, I can not believe what I have read. As with any sin regardless of what it is, it is sin.

We are to be loving, compassionate and caring to all sinners. (Yes I work with people who are gay and have friends who are gay)

How do you explain away texts like below if you allow homosexuality in the church? If you do away with these texts then you allow any sin possible to be permitted in church.

Rom 1:26,27 “Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones; in the same way, men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

Gal 5:16 - 21 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus is calling us all, not just homosexuals to repentance, if we do not submit to God, we will not spend eternity in heaven.

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Carol,

What a way to phrase an argument. This means that the church’s position is a carefully crafted, unbiblical stance that people follow mindlessly. You assume that Harry or others who have come to the same conclusions as Harry do not investigate issues for themselves. In your next post (in which I’m still not sure what policy this website is following… as it’s suppose to have a “one post only” rule) you recommend several books that all undoubtedly lead to the same conclusion; the Bible does not really condemn homosexuality or it only spoke against it at the time of writing. You went on to say…

Now this is a head scratcher. You said “a large minority of the church theologians…” If you truly meant “minority”, then it means “a precious few”. But, I think you meant “majority”… in which case I challenge you to authenticate such a claim.

This is my belief… the message God conferred upon the Remnant Church to deliver is a call to “worship Him that made heaven and earth, the sea, and the fountain of waters.” This is a call to live the life/lifestyle that Adam and Eve were expected to live in Eden. Embracing their “pre-sin” lifestyle is the only way to regain access to to the Tree of Life (Revelation 22:14); which is now in heaven. Hence, God’s original design for the constitution of human sexual relationships is to be adhered to; along with a number of things He originally orchestrated (such as the original diet). Satan, on the other hand, wages war against God’s original design and seeks to challenge God’s design with “alternatives”. When satan met Eve at the Tree, he was able to “start a conversation” (sound familiar?), and the basic premise of his argument was “is His way the only way?”, “Why not consider another way?”. This “why not” and “another way” thinking is ripping the SDA Church apart.

The new “gold standard” of thinking in the church is “why not”; a challenge to “the way things have been”. This presupposes that there never was a basis for “the way things have been”. But really, as in the case of the serpent’s argument, it is a call to question, ignore, and ultimately disrespect what God has clearly and unequivocally stated. This adventurous, inquisitive posture leads to a Ryan Bell experience. Interestingly, his “inquisitive hunt” was well received on this website. Kind of hard to understand how one can embrace someone desiring to live apart from God (for a year) and, at the same time, believe that he or she is leading a “conversation” that will bring us into a higher understanding of God.

On the other hand we are told by the servant of the Lord that “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.” 1 Selected Message pg. 121 This demands that we examine where we have fallen short, as the people of God, and make the necessary reforms to come back in harmony with His will.

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Carol,

When you ask Harry if he is swayed by the fact that theologians, pastors, educators, and administrators who have studied this question and are convinced that the church’s position needs revising, it reminds me of the Pharisees in John 7:47 and 48 when they asked essentially the same question. Having someone “apparently” trained to understand doctrine should not necessarily be considered a good reason to follow their convictions. Jesus bypassed the so called “trained or learned” men of His time and chose uneducated men to walk with Him and learn from Him.

Just wanted to point this out.
God bless.

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This is obviously such a delicate picture within our church. I had the privilege of dedicating Dalia as a baby for Philip and Alberto. I am still watching to see how their local church and conference will not just “deal” with their involvement in the church, but how they will “minister” to all of the family. My prayers are with you. Thank you for your courage. “What can separate us from the love of Christ?” NOTHING!

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