Trigger warning: Discussions of sexual abuse
Content note: contains homophobic material.
Proceed at your own risk.
We last left off with nearly all the characters relating some kind of childhood sexual abuse, childhood physical abuse and child neglect. I mean, these characters have been through some serious shit.
It gets better, and by better I actually mean worse.
Growing up with these attractions towards men instead of girls, I didn’t know how to deal with them. I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone about it and I felt ashamed to share what I was feeling with anyone else.
I bet you did, especially if you knew what would have happened to you if you did. Conversion therapy is no joke (or so I’m told).
Navyshirt(?): I thought I was the only person in the world who had these feelings.
He’s sitting by a parked train for some reason. Now he’s walking on train tracks. Trying to kill himself on camera? Did they have to shut the train down to make the movie? I mean, that guy is on a bridge that is nothing but railroad tracks. If a train comes along, he either has to jump off the bridge or he is fucked.
I suddenly realize I am spending way too much time analyzing why this guy is walking on train tracks and need to resume focusing on what he’s actually saying.
Navyshirt: I met a guy who introduced himself to me and identified me as being gay. And I said, “what is that?” It was at the time when the term gay was actually being developed. And he said, “you like guys, don’t you.”
There’s a nice shot of a guy stepping out of a forest into the light.
As interesting as it would be to go down a 2 hour rabbit hole about the origin of the term “gay” and how it went from meaning “happy” to “homosexual,” I should probably not do that because ultimately I have other things I need to be doing.
If anyone does know the history of the term, how it came to mean what it does, please, I want to know. But I don’t have time right now to seek out a reliable source. Yes I know how to use google but you can totally believe everything you read on the internet so moving on.
Navyshirt: the church has done a good job of telling us that being gay is bad.
Yes, yes it has.
Redshirt: I noticed no one in the church growing up talked about “the gay issue.” My first introduction to the issue came from Time magazine when I was sitting in a library at a University studying theology. When I saw that magazine and that this was the cover story, I was fascinated by the photo on the cover of that magazine. Before, I thought I was totally alone. I didn’t know a living soul who was gay.
[The cover photo shown is godawful. Very early 70s/late60s)
Danielle: I thought I was born bisexual/ gay. I had always been this way, and it pushed me away from being a Christian. If I’m a lesbian, I’m that sin, and sin equals death. So why would I join a religion that tells me I’m going to die just for being who I am?
It’s one thing if someone grew up in it and still wanted to be a part of that community. That’s something I can understand, even if I don’t agree with. As to why you’d join up with it as an adult? I got nothin’.
Anna: when I told my parents [that I was a lesbian] they kicked me out for a week. Then they called me and said, “come back home!” My religious mom was crying and begging and saying, “this is what Jesus wants for you. You’re not going to be in heaven if this is what you do.”
Ouch. Guilt tripping and manipulating your child. This would also mess with a person’s head.
Baldy: I tried to be straight. I didn’t want this. So I got a girlfriend.
I used to think getting a boyfriend would make me straight too. Only I never found someone willing to be my boyfriend, so I never got to try this out. From what I’ve heard, it’s common for non straight people to try this tactic, but it never actually works. It only ends up hurting the people involved.
Redshirt: I was drafted into the military, and I was messed with [sexually] while I was in the military, and I had no idea how to deal with that. But I was still trying to be a Christian and maintain my spirituality. I figured that if I got married, it would take care of the whole thing. Marriage worked for a while and then I realized I had made a terrible mistake. This woman loved me very much and I realized I was going to be a big disappointment to her.
Well, yeah. All these years you pretty much lied to her. I’d be extremely pissed off with you.
You see, this is why we need greater acceptance of homosexuality. People need to be free to be themselves. If they’re free to marry someone they actually love, they’re less likely to try and marry someone else in an attempt to pretend that they are straight.
I prayed that Lord would kill me. “If I have to live like this, I don’t want to live.”
I mean, the bible does kind of say that gay people shouldn’t be permitted to live… So I don’t exactly wonder where this sentiment is coming from.
But the Lord didn’t take my life, and I remember the resentment that came. I felt like God must be like my dad. My earthly dad was terrible. If God was my heavenly father who wouldn’t answer my prayer, he was just like my earthly father who wouldn’t talk to me. I determined that I wasn’t worthy of his time or maybe he just didn’t care.
I remember praying prayers like this. When I realized God didn’t exist, I felt free from the feelings that I wasn’t important enough for God to care that I was suffering. Atheism, for me, really lifted a weight off my shoulders.
So even though I’m not homosexual, I can absolutely relate to what Redshirt is saying here.
Anna: After I first started getting abused I blamed God. I prayed for it to stop, and then I would pray: Why isn’t this stopping? I cried myself to sleep at night because these things were happening and I couldn’t hear god anymore. “I thought in my little mind that I had made Jesus mad.”
By “Little Mind” she means her childhood self’s mind. We are shown childhood photos of Anna. If there are other people in the pictures, their faces are blurred out.
And it’s still a struggle to know why he would let that happen to little 7 year old kids.
Yes, I have wondered that myself. I have yet to come up with an explanation that does not make God look like a colossal asshole.
Redshirt: I came out to my wife and she was devastated and heartbroken. To her credit, my wife loved me and was a Christian. She was willing to forgive me and work through it. She wanted to stay with me and go through counseling and see if we could make this work.
I can see why, as a Christian, she would have wanted to do that… but no.
Navyshirt: Counselors would tell her to divorce this man[me], that this man [me] can never change. It hurt me. I felt that way myself, but to hear that coming from professionals who should have answers, it really angered me. I was angry at the church and angry at God Himself.
Honest question: What kind of counselors did Navyshirt see? Were they real counselors or Christian counselors? Were they Christian counselors who told him something like, “you can’t change, you’re just going to be gay and go to hell?”
Or, as I suspect, did Navyshirt see secular therapists who advised his wife to divorce him because he couldn’t help being gay, and he needed to be set free to go live his own life. Did these secular therapists tell Navyshirt to not try and change himself, but to go ahead and be who he was?
One of these things is not like the others.
Baldy: when I read in the bible about homosexuality, I was mad at God. I prayed and god didn’t change me. I eventually said, “this is who I am, take it or leave it.”
It sounds like Baldy was one of those really sad people who still believe in the Bible and believe it’s the right way to live, but feel that they can’t live up to all the rules. It’s been said that these are the saddest people. Freedom begins in the mind. Someone who still believes that the Bible says something is wrong but chooses to do it anyway isn’t really free.
Redshirt: All these years god didn’t take [my homosexuality] away. Since I continued to have strong desires and uncontrollable thoughts, I figured that’s just who I was. I finally decided to accept who I was and give up. I divorced my wife and fell headlong into “the gay life,” and then for me there was no turning back. I did not want to be gay, but I felt I had no choice. I felt that I needed to get over it and so did anyone else because I had no answers.
“The gay life,” by the way, is a direct quote. It struck me as odd when I heard it, but set that aside. The main thing I want to note here is that this is another thing all 4 characters seem to have in common: at some point they all decided to come out of the closet and live as who they were, but they still believed that it wasn’t right for them to do this.
Speaking from experience, that’s the worst way to live.
Navy blue shirt: what about overeating? What about porn? Satan has laid a lot of things out in front of us. As long as he’s deceived you with your feelings, you’re drawn to it. You begin to think that your feelings equal truth. I believed my friend who said that I was gay. Being gay didn’t match up with God’s word, and so I was done. I was done with Christianity, I was done with God, and I openly embraced “the gay community” and they openly embraced me.
If I were to stop the story right there, this would be a happy ending. But the story does not stop there, and the reason that it does not stop there is because Navyblueshirt never stopped believing that homosexuality is a sin. I feel like I’m getting kind of repetitive here, so I’ll try to move on.
It is my opinion that when it comes to this sort of thing, you have to either search the bible and decide that homosexuality being wrong is bullshit, or you have to search the bible and find out for yourself that the entire bible is all bullshit. If you try to say, “God exists and being homosexual is wrong, I just don’t care,” then you are setting yourself up for all kinds of messes.
So in a way I agree with these people. This line of thinking was only ever going to cause them pain.
Ask me how I know.
Danielle: One day my dad sat me down and said that it was ok if I was different from everyone else. He said, “It’s ok to be an individual and no matter who you are I’m still gonna love you.” He didn’t say “it’s ok if you’re gay,” but we both knew that that’s what he was getting at. So I decided not to hold back anymore and I don’t just mean sexually, but expressively, in all my life.
It sounds like her dad, at least in this one area of her life, was flippin’ awesome.
Danielle tells us that she kind of went off the deep end, and we see pictures of her dressed in “extreme” clothing. But honestly, a lot of it didn’t look that bad to me. I couldn’t grab pictures, of course, so you’re all going to have to wait till the movie comes out to correct me if I’m wrong.
If you go on her website, though, some of the pictures of her in “extreme” garb are actually really not that bad.
Baldy: My sister moved in with me, and I told her I was gay. She had no idea. Despite all the years of playing with dolls and cross dressing, it never occurred to her that I was gay. She was so shocked but so kind.
From the description, it sounds like his sister was a really supportive individual.
What I want to focus on here is the idea that playing with opposite gender coded toys and cross dressing indicates that one is gay.
Show of hands, who of us hasn’t tried to stick our little brother in girls clothes? My little brother wanted to do everything I did, so he asked for my old nightgowns and wanted to paint his nails and have a baby doll just like mine. I wondered if that meant he was gay, and my parents sat me down and told me that no, that didn’t mean anything. If Little Brother wanted to play with dolls, it meant he wanted to play with dolls.
Just because a little boy wants to do the things his sister does doesn’t mean he is gay or transgender. In fact, can we please get away from this whole idea that boys play with boy toys and wear boy clothes and girls play with girl toys and wear girl clothes? These stereotypes do more harm than good, especially if someone doesn’t measure up to them.
I think this is a good stopping place.