A new docuseries called State of Grace explores just how complicated it can be for LGBTQ people to be Christian — or any other faith, for that matter. Host Grace Semler Baldridge is a lesbian, married to a woman, and the daughter of an Episcopal priest. She asks a lot of questions, as one does when exploring a topic so utterly life-defining. The first one is personal: "What the hell have I gotten myself into?"
Baldrige's just been told that she needs to show some sort of repentance for her marriage and her response is devoid of malice or contempt. It's this spirit — Baldridge's effortless, non-judgemental curiosity — that colors the entire series.
Viewers watch Baldridge investigate (and push back, when needed) why LGBTQ folks can be so challenged by reconciling their faiths with their identities, as well as why conversion therapy remains so prevalent. While a growing number of states banned conversion therapy, a report from the Williams Institute found that approximately 698,000 LGBTQ adults in the U.S. have experienced it, half of which were adolescents at the time.
The docuseries goes on to examine how conversion therapy affects a person throughout their lives and why so many people still consider it an option when it's been denounced by the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association. It also asks the big questions like, what does it mean to be a queer Christian in the U.S. today? Despite the evangelical monolith the religious community in the U.S. is often depicted as, there are few mutually agreed-upon answers and it grows more complicated, Baldrige points out, with the changing nature of the bible.
"Scripture has been translated and interpreted over the ages by powerful people who codified their own biases into their work," she says, speaking to The Advocate. "There's a misconception that a bible you buy today will have the exact same words as a bible in the 19th or 15th century. That's not the case. A bible from the 1920s will not have the word homosexual in it."
"The Life-Threatening Dangers Of Gay Conversion Therapy" is the first episode in State of Grace, a docuseries from Grace Semler Baldridge and Refinery29. It was nominated for a 2020 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism.
You can watch the full episode below.
Host: Grace Semler Baldridge
Director and Producer: Tina Tozzi
Cinematographer: Alex Hadden
Editor: Bia Jurema