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?