Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Equality U" looks at the ban on gay students by many "Christian" colleges

Another film on the “Snag Films” site, “Equality U”, directed by Dave O’Brien (2008), is indeed available now for complete viewing,  (website url) here

The first forty minutes of the film are “interrupted” four times for PSA’s by Goldman Sachs, here

This powerful documentary relates the adventures of a group of gay college students who charter a bus for the “Equality Ride” and visit about twenty “Christian” colleges around the country that officially ban gay and lesbian students or behavior, in a manner more or less familiar with the military gay ban (covered in the posting yesterday “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”).  Except, at these schools it’s more like “Do Ask, Don’t Tell”.

The topic rings true for me, because, as I have documented at length (on the “BillBoushka” blog Nov. 28, 2006, I was expelled from William and Mary in the fall of 1961. WM is a state school, but my event happened more or less at the end of the McCarthyism era.

The students will visit private universities, which on the face would seem to have the right to their own policies.  But many gay students go there before realizing they are gay, on the prodding of parents who want to see their kids follow in their footsteps and ratify their own belief systems, perhaps essential even to their own marriages.

Many of the schools belong to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (site).

The first school the kids visit is Liberty University, in Lynchburg, VA, associated with Jerry Falwell. They get arrested for trespassing. As at most campuses, they are not allowed to talk to students. One university student says that homosexuality is a sin because it evades the responsibility to be open to having babies. That actually sounds like the Vatican position to me.

They go on to Regent University in Virginia Beach (any connection to Pat Robertson?), Lee in Tennessee, and Oklahoma Baptist University, with snow on the ground  (the film seems out of sequence), and North Central in Minneapolis.  I don’t know where that is despite living in Minneapolis 1997-2003.  I am familiar with Bethel College in nearby St. Paul.

The biggest confrontation happens at Mormon-affiliated Brigham Young in Provo, Utah.  Until 2007, even admission of orientation or political support for gay rights was grounds for expulsion.  The students have a “lie in” on the lawn, resulting in arrests, to demonstrate the suicides that they claim are prompted by Mormon anti-gay doctrine and actions.

 Many of the students become personalities during the film, including leader Jake, who winds up at Harvard Divinity School.  One lesbian participant is told by her parents that her bank account will be confiscated and that she will be kicked out of home, if she gets on or stays on that “Bus”.

This is a powerful film, well photographed technically, with many appealing students as protagonists. It does not explore the idea of "equality" as we have come to debate it politically, however (as with the gay marriage issue). 

The film comes from Cinevolve and Eyethink Pictures. I can be rented in full from YouTube for $3.99 or watched “free” with Goldman Sachs Public Service commercials on the Snag site.

Eyethink offers this YouTube trailer.

 Pictures: Around Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA, my personal trip in 2005.  I actually attended a service at TRBU in 1989.  

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