How might the Catholic Church be more welcoming and minister better to the presence of gays and lesbians? That’s one of many thought-provoking questions posed by LGBT individuals in the new short film “OwningOurFaith.” Directed by Michael Tomae, the film exposes the personal struggles many gay, lesbian and transgender Catholics go through on a daily basis through a series of interviews.
Serving as a volunteer with Covenant House, a national homeless shelter organization for youth, Tomae found many young adults there had been disowned by their Christian families because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. He sought to start a larger conversation on this topic, reaching out to the LGBT community at a Catholic church in Manhattan. Those conversations led to the 14-minute film that has garnered more than 27,000 views (from 144 different countries) on YouTube since its March debut. A Facebook post announcing the film’s release gained more than 18,000 impressions, and extended interviews with the film’s subjects have received more than 9,000 views.
Tomae says he hopes the documentary will inspire the Catholic Church to be more inclusive. “We have heard from many youth who have used the video as a means to sit down with their Christian families and come out as LGBT,” he says. “We have also heard from parents who said the film has helped their family grow stronger as they strive to reconcile their child’s sexuality and faith.” Adds one LGBT Catholic in the film: “If we abandon the church, it’s never going to change.”
The “OwnYourFaith” team encourages others to continue the conversation on faith and sexuality by posting their own videos to YouTube. The film is available free of charge online, making it easy for planners of LGBT events to share it with audiences at their events, and interested individuals can also join community discussions on the film’s website.