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Friday, October 12, 2012

Guest Post: Far Between

Jon Hastings lives in Portland, Oregon and is an accountant by day and by night and on occasional weekends is an associate producer for Far Between, a documentary that explores the experience of being homosexual and Mormon.

Every so often in the history of humankind, we are asked to confront important and difficult questions. Individually, we have our own personal questions and dilemmas with which we must engage throughout our lives, and on occasion some of those individual questions bubble up to become a concern and a quandary in the collective consciousness of humanity. It becomes a collective concern when it affects a critical mass of people and when it affects various aspects of our lives.

Currently, one of the questions we seem to find ourselves faced with is how we as a people reconcile emotional and sexual attractions that don’t seem to square with religious and spiritual beliefs. We are at a point where a growing number would probably concede that a person doesn’t choose to experience homosexual and homoemotional attractions. We may not know at this point how they develop or originate, but at this point it’s probably safe to say a majority would agree they exist and not at the choosing of the individual who experiences them.

At the same time, humanity has probably just as many beliefs/disbeliefs about who God is and how she and he feel about the various and different ways people experience these attractions as there are people who populate our shared globe.

I wasn’t aware of this multitude and variety of voices and opinions as I grew up in the LDS church in what to me was idyllic Sandy, Utah. All I was really aware of was that it was occasionally mentioned in a talk as being bad and that Spencer W. Kimball had some pretty strong things to say about it in The Miracle of Forgiveness. As a matter of fact, it took me years and years to come to terms with what I was feeling because all I knew growing up in the 80’s was that homosexuals lived in big cities like San Francisco and New York, wore cutoff jean shorts and tube socks and got that mysterious and scary disease called AIDS that invariably ended in death. Needless to say, growing up in a traditional Mormon home, that identity wasn’t one that felt even remotely close to me.

Looking back, I realize how disconnected I felt from myself as a result. There was no thoughtful, nuanced description or exploration of what it was like to be gay outside of the popularized stereotype, nothing that resonated with me. I realize now how I was left to my own devices in figuring out what this meant for me and made lots of bad choices along the way.

Fortunately, an increasing number of thoughtful discussions about this quandary are beginning to bubble up amidst the “war of words and tumult of opinions.” More and more individuals are going into their quiet and sacred spaces to ask the divine where to go with all of this.

For the past year or so, filmmaker Kendall Wilcox has been capturing stories of individuals who have thoughtfully and conscientiously been working through these issues for Far Between, a documentary that will seek to explore the experiences of those who are gay and Mormon. These stories run the gamut of paths both inside and outside of the church, stories of mixed orientation marriages and same sex relationships, stories of loneliness and despair, hope and possibility. We believe that by exploring the vast array of experiences, the documentary will hopefully provide individuals and families with helpful information and insights as they carefully study these issues out in their minds and navigate what can at times be tricky waters.

The Far Between website is also already providing uncut footage of interviews, with new interviews being added regularly as a resource before the documentary is finished for those wanting to engage in the conversation. The website also has a blog with posts by individuals who share what they have learned about what works and what doesn’t when sharing their experiences with their friends and family. We hope all these tools will increase understanding and bring hope to individuals, families, congregations and communities.

After more than a year of work and burning through personal savings, we believe we’ve done the groundwork necessary to be able to come to you with what we believe is a project that has the potential to positively affect the conversation we find ourselves in and ask for your support, both financial and by word of mouth. Please consider visiting our fundraising page and making whatever donation you are able to and sharing the link with friends and family through email and social media.

The questions and issues explored in the film are relevant to all of us, questions about how to reconcile a part of us that doesn’t seem to easily reconcile with our religious beliefs, what it means to love, the role of gender and how we experience our own, etc. We plan to start a Kickstarter fundraising campaign, but if you want to donate now, even better! Plus, we'll be able to keep more of the money since Kickstarter keeps 9% of what we raise, so donate now!

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