Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This Is Not A Film

Just saw the excellent guerrilla documentary This Is Not a Film by and about the Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi. Panahi is under house arrest and was when he made this film. He was told he could direct or script films, so he made this documentary in his apartment in a single day and had it smuggled out of Iran on a USB drive in a cake. He's currently under threat of 6 years in prison, plus an additional 20 years in which he's not supposed to make films. Which makes this documentary quite a brilliant middle finger leveled at the Iranian government. A must-see for fans of film-making, Iranian film, Iranian culture, protest and anyone who decries censorship.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Updated: I Was a Twenty Something Gay Basher

Several years ago, I wrote a post here entitled I Was a Twenty Something Gay Basher, which quickly laid out my thoughts on gay rights and my own evolution from a pretty homophobic youth into a vocal gay rights advocate. Recently, I was given the opportunity to develop that theme at length and the results can be read over on the LGBT-BJU blog. Yes, that's a site for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transgender alumni of Bob Jones University. Here's my much-expanded piece, which I hope will be a source of encouragement to LGBT people struggling within and coming out of fundamentalism. An excerpt:
I don’t remember how the subject of homosexuality even came up, but one Sunday morning on the way to breakfast at the Bob Jones University dining common, I told one of my friends that “gays ought to be lined up and shot.”

“Oh, you mean people like my brother?” my friend replied. I literally stopped in my tracks. I don’t remember how I responded, but I do remember I instantly understood I was in the wrong. Those two sentences between friends proved a catalyst to me. The frankness of my friend’s response to my words shocked me into realizing how I sounded. I knew his brother, knew he was likely gay and still I had made this incredibly callous comment. Nonetheless, my friend’s frank yet polite response had an extraordinary impact: It coupled my vulgar generalization to the specific humanity of one single person. Someone I knew. Someone I most certainly wouldn’t want to see “lined up and shot.” That remark made me instantly aware of an inconsistency in my thinking. So I began to think further and having begun to think, I couldn’t turn back.

I’m horrified that I ever spoke those words. I was 20 years old at the time. So why admit to them now? To underline the fact that at one time I was very anti-gay, so anti-gay that I would’ve have thought the very word “homophobic” nothing more than politically correct propaganda. Part of the “gay agenda.”

Sadly, my words wouldn’t have been terribly out of place at Bob Jones University. If many people there may not have used the same words, many also would not have disagreed entirely with the sentiment. To this day, my alma mater stands by its belief that homosexuality is an “unnatural affection,” an “abomination,” a “sinful lifestyle choice.” I’ve moved on, changed my opinions on this issue. The school has not. So it’s somewhat ironic that as a freshman student at BJU, I began a journey of the mind, which lead me away from such deeply-ingrained homophobia.