A documentary called For the Bible Tells Me So will premiere on Sunday, January 21, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. It's prophetic that my own life's journey led me to my role as an executive producer of this ground-breaking film.
Thirty years ago I was struggling with my sexual orientation as a bisexual man, with my love of God, and with my interpretation of the Bible. It was a struggle between what I thought the Bible said literally, and what the Bible meant. During my early years, I had read it verbatim, and because of that I was one unhappy camper. I thought that the Bible said that homosexuality was an abomination: and so, I tried to become totally straight. I watched Pat Robertson on the 700 Club, and I remember seeing a man with his wife explain how he had been gay but was now straight. Well, I didn't consider myself gay because I loved women. But, I wasn't straight either. I was bisexual, and I was in conflict. The common doctrine of the day said that either you were gay or straight. Since I perceived that it was a binary choice, I decided to go with my straight inclination, and bury my gay nature. Ultimately, I married a wonderful woman, and had two beautiful children. I was faithful to my family.
During my marriage, I became an Orthodox Christian after having been Episcopalian for over a decade. Through the Orthodox faith, I came to realize for the first time in my life that God had created me in His image, and that His image encompassed bisexual and gay people. Two years after I became Orthodox, and one year after my divorce, I decided to come out to the public as bisexual. This was made into a big deal by the press because I had recently been in the national spotlight as a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate race in California. I did it solely on my own volition. And I did it joyfully because I knew God loved me for who I was, and wanted me to live an open and truthful life.
For the past eight years I have been working with various organizations such as GLAAD, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign, the Log Cabin Republicans, the Point Foundation and other groups to help educate Americans about gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Most of these efforts were in the secular arena of American life. However, I knew in my heart that this was not enough, but I didn't know how to influence the religious sphere of our world.
My experience with my own church had been gratifying. The article about my coming out was printed on the front page of the metro section of the Sunday Los Angeles Times. As I went to church that day, I was fully aware that most of my fellow parishioners and priests had read the story. To my utter amazement, not one person said anything negative to me or to our priests. Instead, I was patted on the back, and told by straight men how courageous I was. They congratulated me for being brave enough to tell the truth. This was Christianity at its best. Christ was indeed among us that day.
When I met Dan Karslake a couple of years ago at the home of Judith Light, I knew I had met the man who could get this message of Christian love across to a broader audience. He told me that he was directing a documentary about the Bible and homosexuality, and that he would be interviewing five religious families and their gay children. Two of those families have members who are well-known to the American public -- former Rep. Dick Gephardt and Bishop Gene Robinson. He also planned to interview Biblical scholars concerning certain passages from the Old and New Testaments that are often used to condemn homosexuality. These passages which were written thousands of years ago in ancient Israel and early Christian society would be examined in the context and culture of those times.
Dan is religious, loving, and gifted. I could tell he was motivated to explore the truth about a subject that has been sorely misinterpreted by the so-called "religious right". Many people on the religious right are good people and well-intentioned. But some of their actions have caused irreparable physical and psychological harm to many young people. By vociferously condemning homosexuality, the right has contributed to a suicide rate that is several times higher for gay teenagers than straight teens. Many young people have been thrown out of their homes and onto the streets in the name of Christianity. Some of these 13-17 year olds were lured into crime and prostitution in order to make enough money to live. How in the world can this be considered Christian? And the religious right's advocacy of reparative therapy is utter quackery: it is asking people to live a lie which ultimately causes deep unhappiness and self-loathing.
When I was in my twenties, I was on the road to Damascus to condemn Christians who were gay because I too thought it was a binary choice, an either/or situation. But, as we know today, it is not a binary choice. In fact, it is not a choice at all. I am bisexual. I'm not just straight; I'm not just gay. I love both women and men. If anyone should be able to make a choice, it should be someone who is bisexual. However, if I can't make that choice, then how in the world can one expect gay people to choose to be straight, or straight people to choose to be gay? It's a paradox.
For the Bible Tells Me So is a documentary that has the potential to open the minds of those people of faith who have been told ad nauseam to "hate the sin, but love the sinner". I truly believe that most Christian churches have unknowingly misinterpreted the Bible when dealing with the issue of homosexuality. This wouldn't be the first time in history either. Just remember how the Bible was used to justify slavery, and to subjugate the role of women in society. Slowly but surely the love of God is beginning to penetrate people of faith into understanding that being gay is not a sin, but a gift from God. The Episcopal Church is in the forefront of this movement, and other Christian denominations are beginning to evolve. This documentary will hopefully enlighten us all on our own road to Damascus.