As the first
openly gay person elected to the order of bishop in the
Episcopal Church, V. Gene Robinson isn't your typical
film star. But he and his parents, along with four
other families, provide the framework for a spiritual
journey toward acceptance and love in For the Bible Tells
Me So, a documentary
currently screening across the country (www.forthebibletellsmeso.org).
Though the role is a little out of the ordinary, Robinson
says he is "devoted to the film" for the
healing he thinks it can provide to LGBT people and
their loved ones in smaller cities and rural areas of
"This is a story about five families and their
children who come out and have had the audacity to
proclaim, 'Jesus loves me, this I know,'
" Robinson says, referring to the famed
children's song. "And while most people
would maintain, and have maintained for 2,000 years, that
the Bible tells us just the opposite, we proclaim that
the Bible does love me just the way I am -- loves my
relationships, loves my being gay, and calls on me to
use God's love to help the world."
The Advocatesat down with Bishop
Robinson to ask him about his involvement with the film,
what he likes most about it, and why he thinks it
could shake up the heartland.
What do you like most about this film?
It describes change the way it always happens,
which is, we think we have the world summed up into
neat and tidy categories, and then along comes this
experience that doesn't fit. And so one's
world view has to change in order to accommodate that
You have five deeply religious families who know exactly
where they stand on the issue of homosexuality, and
then one of their beloved children comes out, and this
movie is the story of the journey that each of these
families goes on in order to accommodate that new reality.
They are thrown into chaos, because they love their
children and they can't believe all the things
they've been told about LBGT people and still love
their children the way they do. That's the way change
of any kind always happens, and it's just a
miracle to see it happen in these families.
What unexpected discovery
struck you most about the film?The thing that struck me was how
similar the journeys have been for all of the families.
Harvey Milk once said that coming out was the most
political thing you can do, and I believe that our
coming out is changing the world. Because you can
believe all the stereotypes and you can believe all that
you're told, until someone appears that just
doesn't fit that mold, and then everything
has to change.
In an odd sort of way, I feel
like the Episcopal Church -- and maybe other churches as
well -- is going through what these five families
went through. When you come out in a family, the
family reacts with anger, disbelief, grief -- very
difficult emotions. Then they go through this time
of chaos when they're trying to bring their
beliefs into some congruity with this person that they
know. In some very odd sense, the Episcopal Church
now knows it has a gay son -- it has lots and lots
of gay sons and lesbian daughters.
Is there anything you wish the movie had
included but didn't?No. I'm really pleased with
the way the movie is put together. I think there are a
lot of people now who are generally sympathetic to
us as LGBT people, but as soon as someone quotes
Scripture, they just crumble. They assume that whoever
has quoted the Scripture knows far more about it
than they do, so they just have no answer for it.
I believe this film gives people the tools and
gives them a firm piece of ground to stand on to say,
"Well, no, actually the Bible
doesn't say what it first appears to be
saying." I love that about the film.
Do you think the film will
make people question their convictions?I think there are extremists who
will never be persuaded, but there is this gray, movable
middle, and that's who this movie is made
for. Fifteen, 20 years ago, most Americans would
have told you they didn't know anyone gay. There
might be weird Uncle Larry or the two weird
spinster sisters who live together down the
street. But there's nothing more than a suspicion
there. Now, 20 years later, is there anyone left
who doesn't know a family member, a coworker,
a next-door neighbor to be gay?
This movie gives them a
framework within which to love and accept people that
they're already feeling kindly toward.
That's the group that this movie is going to
affect, and that's really who this movie was made
for. Every single gay and lesbian person who has
seen this movie who I've talked with, the
first question is, "When can I get this on DVD to
send to my parents?" I am just desperate to
get this movie out to them, because I think it will
be so comforting and supportive for people who still
feel themselves in this isolated
How did the producer-director, Dan Karslake,
convince you to get involved with this project?
Dan got into my office somehow at the time when
my security was the highest, and it's a tribute
to him and his belief in this movie that he
sweet-talked his way past all the people who were there to
keep him away from me. I have to say that there was an
inner voice that told me to trust him. I had never met
him, never heard of him, and yet somehow I instantly
I have to tell you, I would not
have subjected my parents to many people. They are sweet
and kind and reasonably unsophisticated. I would
not have trusted just anyone to them. Dan endeared
himself to them. He spent three or four days with them.
As a matter of fact, for weeks after, when they
would call me, they would first ask how Dan was
doing before they ever got around to asking me how
I was doing. He just treated them with such respect and
loving care. You can see from what people said to
him and how they said it that they all just
trusted him, and that has led to the quality of this film.