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