About the film
Asian American lesbians and gays have been largely invisible in Christian churches. Some Asian American churches silence the issue for fear of division and conflict. Other Asian American church leaders have condemned homosexuality and publicly protested against same-sex marriage. Yet lesbian and gay Asian Americans and their families worship and serve in churches every day. Where are their voices? This honest and thought-provoking film tells a story that the church needs to hear: that of Asian American Christian lesbian and gay people, their pastors, and their parents.
Oneida Chi, a devout young adult Chinese American in an evangelical Christian church, speaks of her struggle with the discovery of her own sexual orientation and her search for self-acceptance and religious community. Husband and wife Harold and Ellen Kameya, active leaders in their Japanese American church, tell the story of their shock and confusion when their beloved daughter first came out, of the isolation and alienation they felt in their church, and of the importance of a church community in their Christian journey to grow in understanding, courage and love for their daughter. The Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, an immigrant Asian pastor, seeks to fulfill Jesus message of justice and love for all people as he speaks out and supports the full acceptance and affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the church.
All four are church-loving and God-loving Christians. And yet they struggle to find kindred spirits and their recognized place in Gods house.
This film invites you to listen to their stories of courage, inspiration, and renewed faith, and to hear the importance of supporting lesbian and gay people as important members of our Asian American families and churches.
This film is developed in the context of the national debate about the civil liberties and civil equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States. The Christian religion has been placed right in the middle of the debate, much in the same way in which Christianity was used to justify slavery at an earlier time in our country’s history.
Of the 13 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders now living in the United States, 43% identify as Christian. This Asian American Christian population has been largely disapproving of LGBT rights, including a number who have in recent years held public protests in major cities against same-sex marriage.
This film was made to address three commonly held responses and beliefs among people who attend Asian American Christian churches: 1) that there are no gay Asian people; 2) that Asian American LGBT people are not faithful Christians; 3) and that certainly, there are no gay and lesbian people in their own church.
We made this film because we know there are indeed Asian American LGBT Christians and their families who worship and serve in our churches every day. This film tells their stories and breaks the painful silence in the hope that this might open up conversation toward greater tolerance and acceptance in the church.
The fact that those whose stories are told in this film are among the very few willing to have their lives and stories filmed underscores the fact that it is still not safe for Asian Americans in the family, the workplace or even the church for members to speak the truth about their Asian American LGBT realities.
Producer: Rev. Deborah Lee is program director of the PANA Institute (Institute for Leadership Development and Study of Pacific Asian North American Religion) at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley and coordinator of the Civil Liberty and Faith project. She is a minister in the United Church of Christ and the coordinator of the Network on Religion and Justice for API-LGBT persons (NRJ-API-LGBT).
Director: Lina Hoshino is a filmmaker and new media designer whose films, including the award winning Story of Margo and Caught in Between: What to Call Home in Times of War, have screened in England, Finland, Japan, Portugal, Sweden, and beyond. As a co-founder of Many Threads and Tactile Pictures, Lina has led creative and design efforts for many community organizations, including: the Partnership for Immigrant Leadership and Action, the National Japanese American Historical Society, Asian Improv, and the Japanese Women's Active Museum for War and Peace. A self-described JABC (Japanese American Born Chinese from Taiwan), Lina grew up living in the U.S., Japan, and France. She studied painting and sculpture at Carnegie Mellon University.
About the PANA Institute’s project on Civil Liberty and Faith:
From 2000-2009, PANA was the Institute for Leadership Development and Study of Pacific and Asian North American Religion, a center of the Pacific School of Religion focused on developing leadership, fostering intellectual discourse, and cultivating critical voices on social issues in and for Pacific and Asian North American religious and scholarly communities.
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