Free Community Cinema June 19 features the struggles of the first gay Episcopal bishop | PostIndependent.com

Free Community Cinema June 19 features the struggles of the first gay Episcopal bishop

Paula Struckman
CULTURAL CONFIDENTIAL CONTRIBUTOR
Courtesy photo
Staff Photo |

FREE COMMUNITY CINEMA SCREENING

“Love Free or Die”

Wednesday, June 19 - 6:30 p.m. wine and cheese reception, 7 p.m. screening

Room 111, Academic Classroom Building, Colorado Mesa University. The Academic Classroom Building is located near the intersection of Elm and Cannell avenues with plenty of free parking available after 6.

Panelists:

• Heidi Hess, Western Slope field organizer, One Colorado

• Casey Sadahiro, president, CMU Gay-Straight Alliance

• Mike Burr, pastor, Koinonia Church

• Dr. Sarah Swedberg, associate professor of history, CMU

• Gretchen Reist Henderson, New Grid Creatives

“Love Free or Die” is a befitting title for this Independent Lens Film. It is befitting because it is the story of the first ordained openly gay Episcopal bishop who lives in New Hampshire, the state whose motto is, “Live Free or Die.” Debuting on PBS in October 2012, the film was chosen as June’s Community Cinema presentation in celebration of Gay Pride Month.

Quoting filmmaker, Macky Alston, “We hope that the film will…reveal to people who are not currently sympathetic that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are fully human; that the way we live and love is not intrinsically better or worse than the way heterosexual people do; that our lives and freedoms matter as much as anyone else’s and that when we are free to love and live, our families and communities are a valuable part of the fabric of humanity. On the flip side, we aim to reveal to LGBT people who have been hurt by institutionalized religion that religious people and institutions are not all anti-gay and that there are a lot of religious people, some of whom are LGBT themselves, who are heroically standing for LGBT equality.”

When Gene Robinson was consecrated an Episcopal Bishop in a small-town church in New Hampshire, floodgates of controversy opened in churches worldwide. Should gays be consecrated? Should gay marriages, even when legal, be blessed in the church? The division eventually led to some U.S. congregations leaving the Episcopal denomination to affiliate with Anglican dioceses abroad that held more conservative views on LGBT issues. (The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide church body).

Bishop Robinson believes he is accepted in his diocese because he is comfortable with himself. As he meets people, they get to know each other, relax and accept. A kind, gentle, thoughtful person, Robinson had married, fathered two girls and divorced. He met Mark Andrews and their civil union automatically converted to a marriage when New Hampshire legalized gay marriage in 2010. The two have been together 20 years and have a loving relationship with both daughters.

Robinson’s journey through his chosen profession was rough after acknowledging he was gay. He said, “Everyone liked me until they found out I was a homosexual.” Robinson has faced many challenges from being the only Anglican Bishop excluded from the periodic gathering of bishops of the Anglican Communion in London in 2012, to continuing his work despite ongoing death threats. Throughout, Robinson has been true both to himself and the church, feeling that “God believes in love. Where love is, there is God,” inspiring bishops, priests and ordinary folk to come out of the shadows and stand up for equality.

Earlier this year, Robinson retired from the church. He is currently a part-time senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and intends to focus on immigration, health care reform, poverty and LGBT issues.

What an appropriate documentary commemorating Gay Pride Month.


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