Queers In The Kingdom
Less than an hour away from Chicago lies Wheaton College, a very old, conservative Christian College where declaring yourself a member of the LGBTQ community was forbidden. In "Queers In The Kingdom" alumni and allies blow the whistle on Bible-based homophobia and the very community that suppressed them for over a century and a half.
When Jonathan Blanchard founded Wheaton College in 1860, it was hailed as a college that accepted women and African Americans as long as its students promised to study and live "for Christ and his Kingdom." However, if you were gay or lesbian and attended Wheaton, you were not to disclose or come out. A student's usual feelings of fear and anxiety, in lieu of coming out, had an added level of loneliness and misery because it was the belief of the church that Christ would never accept homosexuals in the kingdom of heaven.
"Queers In The Kingdom" chronicles the amazing series of events which lead Wheaton College to be one of the first Christian higher education campuses to establish an LGBTQ presence, even schools like Harvard and Yale declared precepts in Christ. In 1988 Wheaton College suffered a tragic student suicide which eventually spun into a series of events where its LGBT alum stepped forward and made their presence known.
In the wake of women's rights, Roe Vs. Wade, fear based language from Anita Bryant, Billy Graham and later Jerry Falwell; the political right painted the LGBT community as "everything that's morally wrong and decaying" in this country. "Queers In The Kingdom" tells a detailed account of the rise of gay rights in Christian Education, which, until now, has never been told. Beautifully shot, with fascinating interviews, it carefully allows the viewer to feel the pain and angst of so many LGBT alum who finally could step forward, not live their life in a lie, and still follow their heart through Christ's teachings.
Markie Hancock's direction is clear and to the point: Responsible education would be to create a structure where LGBTQ kids and young adults could live their lives with Jesus in their hearts. Interview subjects are adult missionary children, preacher's children and fundamentalist's children -- all who were told that going to Wheaton College would be a place to study and worship in their faith, without the threat of bullying and prejudice.
While many in this world argue the LGBT issue surrounding "Nature vs. Nurture," one can't help think the same about religion after watching "Queers In The Kingdom." We are not born into a religion because we are not born Christian. We are raised Christian because our parent choose to raise us as Christians (or as Buddhists, or Jewish, or any other religion for that matter.)
I highly recommend seeing "Queers In The Kingdom" because it asks the important question, "Why not practice what you preach?" The story of its subjects will lift your heart, saying "Alleluia!"