Since the dawn of consciousness humans have searched for a belief system. We want to know, ‘How should I live?’ ‘Why is the world like this?’ and ‘What happens when I die’? Religions give us answers – an endless number of options – and all are convinced that they alone hold the truth. But the major religions tend to agree on one thing – the gays are always going down. Gays and lesbians live and die at the intersection of sexuality and religion.
How and why do they make sense of their faith in the face of centuries of hatred and oppression? The Bedroom Commandments is a 90 minute documentary film about homosexuality and faith. In it, documentary film maker Malcolm Burt sets out to explore whether or not one can be gay and formally religious. Determined not to be a religion-basher, he is painfully aware that, under the banner of faith, many homosexual people have been rejected, hurt and killed because of their sexual orientation. Scriptural precepts are often perceived as antigay, and homophobia abounds in religious circles – yet there are those who are both homosexual and devout – and proclaim the scripture is misinterpreted.
Malcolm struggles to understand how these faithful homosexuals continue to crave acceptance from a club that reviles them – and wonders if religion is not a choice but an accident of birth. Malcolm interviews a variety of people across a range of ages, backgrounds and faiths. He interviews the non religious and ex religious as well as those currently involved in their church. He invites those still faithful to their religion to explain how they make sense of their convictions in the face of centuries of hatred and oppression. He listens to others describe years of systematic abuse and persecution by religious leaders and followers because of their sexuality. He hears stories of hidden sexuality, brutal reactions to revelations and complete loss of belief.
There is anger, hope, fear and enduring faith. Those who have remained true to their religious doctrine explain how their faith helps them to find meaning and peace – they have welcomed the tradition and structure religion adds to their lives. Others talk about their ejection from an exclusive club — the hetero church. Malcolm includes points of view from a wide spectrum of belief systems and sexual backgrounds, including people whose faith accepts homosexuality. He also converses with experts in the field of religion: a theologian, a sociologist and a moderate Christian pastor who all have differing views on the co-existence of belief and homosexuality.
The stories of suffering and pain are compelling and reveal stoic resilience as well as desperate self-loathing. Cynicism and bitterness lie alongside optimism and forgiveness. Malcolm himself journeys towards a greater understanding and tolerance of the need for religion and, indeed, experiences personally a moment of enlightenment.
Alongside the revealing conversations, Malcolm incorporates incendiary quotes which reflect opinions from both extremes – some are vitriolic and promote violence and bigotry towards homosexuals, while others condemn the narrow views of some religious institutions. These viewpoints are also portrayed in a series of simple yet effective animations which highlight each religion’s attitudes – and contradictions – in regards to homosexuality.
The Bedroom Commandments is a compelling series of conversations which seek to promote discussion and raise awareness of the complexities of faith and sexuality.
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