Once the Methodist/United Methodist Church was viewed as "America's Church." We boasted that Methodism was present in every County seat town. Those of us who are not Dallas Cowboys ("America's Team") fans despite their success this year, believed that we as a Church were more "American" than the Cowboys. But today in a distortion of the meaning of "Globality", we sacrifice the inclusivity, although not yet perfected, of the USA, in order to "use" the biases taught by missionaries, to justify discrimination in the UMC.Read More
WE HAVE SO MUCH GOOD NEWS TO SHARE! Thanks to YOU, Truth In Progress has hurdled over some huge milestones, which are propelling us into a host of opportunities, even before we’ve had a chance to do any significant promotions! Clearly, From Selma to Stonewall is relevant, timely, and exciting interest across the country. This is the moment we’ve been working toward.Read More
The unwillingness of United Methodism to affirm and encourage marriage equality, to publicly endorse the God-given love that same-gender couples share, will forever be a blight on the denomination. And, the charges against and trials of UM clergy who perform same-gender marriages like the Salem Witch Trials, will in time be viewed as unbelievable and unexplainable.Read More
"We who are black have been historically enslaved and segregated by the biblical misinterpretation of 'The curse of Ham' in the book of Genesis.
HOW LONG WILL THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH CONTINUE TO ‘CURSE’ SAME-GENDER LOVING PERSONS?
They have become the ‘New N......’ of this moment in history.”Read More
Writing from the veranda of the Hotel Tides in Asbury Park, NJ –Gil’s fine city and the location of QFest NJ LGBT Film Festival. Spring is starting to pop out in blooming trees and daffodils, just as we are releasing our documentary of 6 years in the making!
We finished the final film in February and soon after given the opportunity to pitch the film to top industry funders at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival; and then, on our first shot into the festival circuit, we were selected to screen at QFest NJ. The upshot is that “From Selma to Stonewall” premieres tomorrow afternoon at 4 pm at Qspot LGBT Community Center in Ocean Grove, NJ. We are honored that some members of the cast and crew as well as major funders are attending. Gil and I will do a Q&A afterwards. Check out this news story in this week’s Asbury Park’s The Coaster.
There is still time to support the making of the film; we have $13,050 to go on our campaign to raise $50,000!!! EVERY gift counts. Would you please give $10-20 and ask your friends to join in. Our funding needs are real, and we can’t stress enough how important your gifts are. It is astounding how we have made this film happen, through gifts from individuals and the help of 5 loyal, generous foundations. This has been a phenomenal grassroots effort over 6 years. We (you and us) have done this together.
Funds will cover the cost of archival footage and photographs (the 35 seconds of AP newsreel of Bloody Sunday was $1,575 alone), our promotions director’s salary, the new website for the film, final color and sound work, and more. Be a part of this major endeavor and you will receive a download of the theme song written and composed by jazz diva Eden Atwood and performed by Eden and the amazing Todd Hunter!
Thank you so much for being a part of our journey with Truth in Progress. This is only the beginning of the film’s release! We’re awaiting word from other festivals, soon we will start planning regional screenings (soon but no dates set, we’ll wait to hear from festivals first), and in the not-too-distant future, we will have the film available to stream (date is not set). We will keep you posted with an occasional email. If you want daily or bi-weekly like us on facebook and/or twitter and you’ll receive updates more often.
Please go HERE to see the first 3 minutes of the film and make your donation. We’ve received $1,900 in the last week AND the air miles so I could attend the premiere! People have stopped me at a local brewery tap room as well as in coffee shops to make cash donations. They know what this film can do –CREATE CHANGE, JOIN WITH THOSE MAKING CHANGE, BRING EVERYONE TO THE TABLE TO FIGHT THE POLARIZATION, AND OFFER CONNECTION RATHER THAN HATRED.
By DON STINE
Asbury Park’s Rev. Gil Caldwell was not only a foot soldier and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.in the American civil rights movement, but he is also an advocate for defending the rights of gay Americans as well.
A special documentary, prepared in collaboration with bisexual and transgender rights activist Marilyn Bennet, focusing on Caldwell’s fight and advocacy for these two important social issues will premiere in Ocean Grove Sat., April 2.
“From Selma to Stonewall: Are We There Yet?” is Caldwell’s first venture into documentaries about these issues.
“I am also an advocate for gay rights and I thought, sometime ago, about the interesting pulls that come to an intersection on sexualism, racism and religion. My hope is that film viewers see we are living in such a polarized time, regardless of our differences on any issues, and we must respect each other as we work through these differences. The joys and struggles of any of us ought to be the joys and struggles of all of us,” he said.
“We are a family as a community,” he said.
The documentary will be shown at a premier viewing during the first-ever QFest New Jersey LGBT Film and Digital Media Festival at the Jersey Shore Arts Center, in Ocean Grove on April 2 at 4 p.m. There is a $10 fee to see the documentary, to be shown in the Arts Center’s large auditorium, and a $25 fee for a full-day access pass to all events.
The festival, from Friday, April 1 through Sunday, April 3, is the only annual LGBT film and digital media festival in New Jersey. For more information go to www.qspot.org.
Caldwell, who has lived in Asbury Park for eight years, said he has been working on the documentary for three years
The “From Selma to Stonewall” documentary jumps off from the Civil Rights Movement in Selma and the Gay Rights Movement that started at Stonewall, and lands right in the crossroads of today’s most explosive issues, including racial injustice and police brutality.
“The revolution is at the intersection, our hope in our shared pain, and power in together fighting for equal justice for all,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell, who is an 82-year-old retired Methodist minister, said he wanted to make a documentary that made people explore more than sex orientation, race or religion.
The film is an exploration of the similarities, differences, and conflicts between the civil rights and the gay rights movements. To Caldwell’s disappointment, not everyone who stood alongside him during the heyday of the civil rights struggle supported his advocacy of gay rights.
He said he believes that no one deserves to be excluded in the drive for social justice.
Caldwell, a friend of Dr. King’s, is a self-described foot soldier in the civil rights movement: he marched on Washington; called for voting rights in the heat of the Mississippi summer; and walked from Selma to Montgomery in an historic civil rights march.
He later broadened his demand for equality, advocating for gay rights. In 2000, he was arrested twice for protesting the United Methodist Church’s policy that the “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Go to www.truthinprogress.com see the first 3.5 minutes of “From Selma to Stonewall” and contribute to its funding.
Read more at http://thecoaster.net/wordpress/documentary-features-asbury-park-resident-a-foot-soldier-in-the-civil-rights-movement/#aj2YIiSC3PYWk7tq.99
Once in a great while, as a filmmaker, a project comes along that has the ability to change the trajectory of your life. From Selma to Stonewall: Are we there yet?, has been that film for me.
When the producer, Marilyn, first approached me about working as the editor, I was intrigued by the concept. After working with the footage and watching the interviews for the last couple of months, this film has transformed my mind and expanded my heart.
As a child, I went to a private Christian school with my younger brother. My brother really loved the stories and was more active in the message than anyone else in our family; however, around the 4th grade, he asked to be enrolled in public school. He had a secret. 10 years later, he would reveal to me that he was gay. He told me he knew around age 9 and that he prayed about it every night for the next 7 years. He prayed that God would make him not gay. Finally at age 16, he stopped praying and accepted himself. He decided to let go of his faith and chose his truth instead. His revelation and inability to reconcile these two worlds has stayed with me ever since.
From Selma to Stonewall, are we there yet?, explores so many variations of this story and delves even further into the intersections of those of color facing their truth and their faith.
I am profoundly grateful that this film exists. We are living a pivotal and polarized time in our nation’s history. From Selma to Stonewall guides those who watch it to explore their views and creates a platform for the discussions we need to have as a country. The timing and the message of this film is so crucial. It must be seen and discussed by anyone and everyone.
Once in a great while, a project comes along that has the ability to change the trajectory of the world’s mindset. Please join me to raise the funds needed to complete this project and make From Selma to Stonewall: Are we there yet?, a film accessible to all.
The final edit has been completed! The last amount of fundraising is for final color correcting, title graphics/animation, purchase Archival footage rights, DVD copies, festival submissions and promotional material.
We are so close to completing our documentary film, From Selma to Stonewall - Are We There Yet?
We are not there yet, But you can help us get there.
We say, "Be part of the hope."
Hopelessness is diminished when we find a project that asks for our support and involvement.
We say, "Be part of the Dialogue, conquers the silence of these moments. It is a way of conquering the awful loneliness of this time of verbal and physical violence.
We say, "Help us cross the finish line of this remarkable project."
I am amazed at the human diversity of those who participate in the New York City Marathon. I am more amazed at those who finish hours after most of the participants have finished. Theirs is a persevering persistence that is focused on crossing the finish line, no matter when or what.
Your support of our documentary From Selma to Stonewall - Are We There Yet? will assist a film and a project that will trump a tendency to view justice as an isolated "silo" endeavor, challenging one form of injustice, without recognizing what
Martin Luther King meant when he said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Thanks for your support!
Gil Caldwell and Marilyn Bennett
Together we can raise the final $18,400!
The film couldn't be more timely, the characters more interesting, or the ramifications more crucial. Please give to help take this important film across the finish line. Share the campaign and movie teaser with your friends. Let's get hundreds of people involved. Each and every gift takes the film one step closer to being finished.Read More
SENECA FALLS, NEW YORK: Although we have not mentioned it in our film title, Marilyn and I have, in our thinking, reflecting, and being, traveled to and through Seneca Falls, New York. This site of the first Women’s Convention held in July 1848 has the importance to women that Selma has to African Americans, and that Stonewall has to LGBTQ persons. Thus it is "there" in our film, even if it has not been named as Selma and Stonewall have.
I, an 82 year old man as I write this, know that because of my mother, my sisters, my wife, my granddaughter, my "Younger Sister" and colleague in this effort, Marilyn, and all of the women who have been involved in the production of this film, I must say and share what they need not share: sexism has been, is, and tragically will be with us until Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and other religions cease treating girls and women as "The Other”, as beings created to stroke the fragile egos of boys and men, and to become physical vessels that, upon penetration by men, serve the sexual needs of men and provide wombs for the children of the world.
Sojourner Truth, in an effort to declare her worth as a woman and as a Black person, asked the question, "Ain't I A Woman?," after she described in detail all that she had done and suffered.
May the boys and men who watch this film, regardless of their sexual orientation or race, begin to be "bold, brave, and bodacious" and strong enough to say it loud and clear: "I, as a boy or man, declare that neither my genitalia, my physical strength, or the consistency of my ability to make more than women makes me superior. I will seek to, each day of my life, be an advocate and ally of girls and women, and will challenge any boy or man, who through his words and actions, is not!"
"SEXUAL HEALING": This song, sung by the late singer Marvin Gaye, prompted these words: "(It) reveals something...about the secular world that the church has neglected to address in a concrete way: for millions of contemporary Americans sex is an opiate and a "balm in Gilead" capable of healing their souls from the sins of the world..."Sexual Healing" was and remains, a frightfully realistic form of idolatry in contemporary American society."
The Theology of "Sexual Healing" by Orea Jones, The Theology Of American Popular Music; A Special Issue of Black Sacred Music: A Journal of Theomusicology, Fall 1989, published by Duke University Press
My journey "From Selma to Stonewall" has encouraged, enabled, and empowered me to share this observation: blacks and gays threaten the order and control of religion because both groups of persons have sought to free themselves from the tyranny of religion. In its effort to control what is thought of as "decent behavior", religion has demeaned and thereby diminished the profound meanings of sex, sexual activity, and sexuality.
I am convinced that my denomination, the United Methodist Church, justifies its anti-gay language and legislation by the words, "...the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." It is in reality saying: "The practice of ‘sexual activity' is incompatible with Christian teaching." The United Methodist Church is embarrassed by the fact that the parents of every United Methodist, "did it” – engaged in sexual activity – to create and birth them.
"There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul," so says the Spiritual. And Orea Jones writes that, "for millions of Americans," the act of, the search for "sexual healing" is a "balm in Gilead". From the very "git go", the music of Blacks, whether Jazz or Rhythm and Blues, was suspect by the Church because it affirmed the sensual/sexual as being vital to what it means to be human. It was in the Black Church that I learned the depth of themeaning of "Let go and let God". It meant that all of me, not part of me, belonged to the God who created me.
And the challenge for the Church is that, "the audacity, the openness" of LGBTQ persons about their sexuality and sexual activity has frightened the Church into making sexuality, sexual activity, and, "the practice of it" something to fear and avoid. A colleague of mine has, with tongue-in-cheek, suggested that when it comes to the church and sex, sex is only valid when it is about procreation and practices: "the missionary position." Same-gender sexual activity challenges both of these church perspectives.
Whether we are heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or asexual, we hope our film will enable the viewer to break free of the chains that religion and society have created to control us rather than to liberate us, to find Healing of all kinds, sexual and more.
"HAMILTON"; I have not seen the play, but as I have read about it and seen an interview of its creator/writer on 60 Minutes, I have wished that “From Selma to Stonewall" could evoke in the minds, hearts and spirits of those who view it all that "Hamilton" evokes. It is said that the play, "is rooted in hip-hop, jazz, R & B, pop, Tin Pan Alley, and the choral strains of Broadway."
Our son Dalehas written about the importance of understanding what influenced us and others to be, do, and like what we do; We must remember what influenced us. He says that the music that is most important to us is the music we first heard and embraced when we were children and teenagers.
May the viewers and those who discuss "From Selma to Stonewall" bring to their viewing and discussing of it that which is uniquely theirs, rather than leaving that portion of themselves outside. I have, in my retirement from active ministry in 2001, spent much time in the pews, rather than the pulpits of churches, listening to sermons and music. I admit that when I have sat there passively, waiting for the sermon or the music to "turn me on", I have been disappointed. I have become more aware of how many of my sermons, when listened to by passive listeners, failed to energize, empower and excite them.
But, I have learned to be an "active listener;" paraphrasing, circumventing, and deleting that that does not "speak" to who I am. Ihave sung and listened to hymns, as well as choral/instrumental music, and mentally introduced to myself other church music or my beloved Jazz. I have found that “nothing is boring" when I bring to it myself, all of myself, rather than waiting for others to inspire me. Life is too short and valuable to live it passively,
Thus, Marilyn and I want, "From Selma to Stonewall - Are We There Yet?”, for viewers and those who discuss it, to be "BBB" (you know what I mean) and within your mind, heart, and spirit, create thoughts, reflections, aspirations, and plans to be that have never been front-and-center before. Say AMEN, regardless of your faith perspective!
Not only Marilyn's "Elder Brother"; let me be yours as well
I do not believe that most men, upon reflection, would want a negative depiction of men (as expressed in the slogan) to justify the rejection of an equal rights ordinance. "Men ofHouston", I do not believe you deserve the fear-mongering that used your gender to defeat an equal rights ordinance!Read More
From Gil Caldwell
"Reports from two outside experts who examined the use of deadly force in the case of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot dead by a Cleveland police officer, concluded the shooting was ‘reasonable’” (ABC News).
From JESUS and THE DISINHERITED, by Howard Thurman*, 1949:
"The children of the disinherited live a restricted childhood. From their earliest moments they are conditioned so as to reduce their exposure to violence. In Felix Staten's BAMBI, the old stag counsels Bambi, giving to him in great detail a pattern of behavior that will reduce his chance of being shot without an opportunity for escape. He teaches him to distinguish human scent, the kinds of exposure that may be deadly, what precise kind of behavior is relatively safe. The stag is unwilling to leave Bambi until he is sure that the young deer has made his body commit to memory ways of behaving that will protect and safeguard his life."
How do we teach our children "to distinguish (the) human scent" that is present in a white policeman, or a black gang member, who devalues the life and humanity of black life, so that they shoot to kill black children and young people, in response to their own anger and their fear?
*Howard Thurman was Dean of Marsh Chapel when I was a student at Boston University School of Theology, 1955-58. I re-read the above Howard Thurman quote from For The Inward Journey: The Writings of Howard Thurman, selected by Anne Spencer Thurman with an Introduction by Vincent Harding. I had not looked at the book since the death of Vincent Harding. As I read these words written by Vincent when I opened the book, they evoked/provoked memory and tears as I remembered with deep fondness, Vincent Harding:
For my brother Gil -------------------- with great appreciation For our friendship And our common path Vincent 9/18/98
As many of you reading this probably feel saddened, sickened and outraged when we turn on the news to yet another tragic and senseless slaughter of black lives, we can only hope not to become numbed and completely apathetic. While it is absolutely maddening from Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Samuel Dubois, and the daily litany of abuses, I try to keep reminding myself to "stay awake” and to stay engaged in whatever ways I can.Read More
I, as one who attended the March on Washington, participated in Mississippi Freedom Summer, two phases of the Selma to Montgomery March, and the Poor People's Campaign, am very pleased with legislation that will protect the rights of LGBTQ persons. Martin Luther King once said about laws against lynching, "A law may not make a man love me, but it will discourage him from lynching me." My Christian faith compels me to link love to justice. I am saddened that some of my Christian colleagues do not understand that their opposition to legal justice for LGBTQ persons and same-gendered-loving couples contradicts their claim to "love the sinner, but hate the sin". Love that does not express itself in justice is not authentic love.
I, as an African American, am deeply disturbed that much of the faith-based resistance to LGBTQ persons is much like the faith-based racial segregation I experienced as I lived in North Carolina, Texas, and South Carolina. Sadly, as I observe religious bigotry expressing itself cloaked in religious freedom, I cannot help but respond by saying, "The more things change, the more they remain the same".
The Equality Act represents an understanding that both the nation and we who are people of faith affirm the God-given humanity of all people, regardless of who they are or who they love.
Gilbert H. Caldwell A retired United Methodist Minister Co-Participant in Truth in Progress, producers of the documentary film in process; "From Selma to Stonewall - Are We There Yet?" Asbury Park, NJ
Dear Pam and David,
One of my quotes that you used in your one-page biographical sketch of me is this: "One of my goals for the rest of my life is to encourage and empower young people to find meaning in the Civil Rights Movement..." I write this letter to you because an additional goal of mine is to "Encourage, enable and empower white people to explore, discuss, and respond to the long-standing need for black people to have '...the right to secure and govern our own bodies."'
I have said with a twinkle in my eye, "It's not easy being white", as I have remembered Kermit the Frog's, "It's not easy being green". We who are black constantly look for white people who "get it"; who have been able to break free from the "chains of whiteness" with their privilege, power, supremacy, psychological, spiritual, historical, and cultural capacity to imprison white people. Pam and Dave, you broke free from those chains as you long ago lived your lives in white and black, and then created, "Icons of the Civil Rights Movement".
My Methodist Preacher father and I were named Gilbert Haven (1821-1880) in response to a white New England Methodist Episcopal preacher who was a bold proponent of racial justice, integration, and interracial marriage. Gilbert Haven became a Bishop, but held to his racial views as he served in that office. Pam and David, I know it has not been easy for you as white persons who openly affirmed your understanding of and commitment to that most significant of American justice movements: the Civil Rights Movement. You have met resistance, apathy, and misunderstanding from white persons as well as from some blacks, whofor a variety of reasons are less-than-positive about "Icons". But you have persevered, andI and many black and white persons applaud you for that.
I, at the age of 81, now understand that anti-black bias is deeply embedded in the DNA of the white experience and worldview, and that it is extremely difficult for white people to talk about anti-black racism with their fellow whites. This began to become more clear to me during the candidacy and presidency of Barack Obama and the residency of his family in the White House: The "satirical" cover picture of Barack and Michelle Obama on a "progressive" magazine during his first campaign, the need for expanded Secret Service coverage of President Obama and his family, the "just say no" of the Republican Party to the Obama agenda, the Tea Party emergence as an anti-Obama entity, and most recently, the display of Confederate Battle Flags as President Obama arrived in Oklahoma (Will the first Jewish President be confronted with flags that have the Nazi swastika on them?).
And of course the killings of unarmed black men by the police, the "Charleston Massacre", and much more, precipitate this "Open Letter" to you, with the hope that you will share it in ways that might begin or accelerate conversations about anti-black bias among our white colleagues.
I have quoted Ta-Nehisi Coates from his book written to his son, "Between The World And Me", in the first paragraph of this letter. The full quotation, I believe, could be useful as whites begin to talk to whites as never before:
"...the belief in being white, was not achieved through wine tastings and ice-cream socials, but rather through the pillaging of life, liberty, labor, land; through the flaying of blacks; the chaining of limbs; the strangling of dissidents; the destruction of families; the rape of mothers; the sale of children; and various other acts meant, first and foremost, to deny you (his son) and methe right to secure and govern our own bodies."
The conversation among whites that many of us believe needs to take place might include a remembering of the lyrics of "Strange Fruit". But in 2015, USA should replace Southern:
"Southern trees bear strange fruit. Blood on the leaves and blood at the root. Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze. Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees"
Your friend and colleague in the journey to racial justice,
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Dear Dale, I am writing you about my concern that the Bible and its significance is being diminished by those who believe they are honoring it.Read More
Colleagues, I first heard of "Juneteenth" when we lived in Galveston, Texas, where my father, Rev. G. Haven Caldwell, was Pastor of Wesley Tabernacle Methodist Church. We lived in Galveston from 1948-50. I attended all-black Central High School in Galveston.Read More
Religion News Service recently published an article on Gil's journey as a "foot soldier" for civil and LGBT rights. The article, written by Adelle M. Banks, offers details on his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as the "epiphany moment" that drove him to be an active part of the fight for LGBT rights.
He had to confront his own views on tolerance when Malcolm Boyd, an Episcopal priest and activist whose writings he had admired, came out as gay in 1977.
“Do you deny the impact he’s had on your life? Do you burn his books?” he asked himself. “How foolish that would be. And that, of course, was clearly an awakening for me.”
Check out the article here.
It is now time for an understanding that “Black Lives Matter” be embraced, not only in Police Stations, but in the words that black gang members tattoo on their arms, that Supreme Court Justices place on their walls, Congress members include in their legislation, and Presidents have on their desks in the Oval Office.Read More
Some persons wonder why we who are black are hurt and angered by what they call "isolated incidents" of bias and bigotry. Ouranswer; it is because they are NOT "isolated incidents". There is a connecting link between calling us the n_____ word, and treating us as less than human.Read More