It would seem that the movie viewings were a failure.
The conversations team had planed two showings of the film “Fish Out of Water.” We had been handing out fliers all week and encouraging individuals to attend. We had previewed the film before the showing, discussed what conversations we could have. At one point, we considered skyping the director in. It should have had the making of a great showing! The film is superb and shot enough to hold the audience’s attention. And offered room for discussion on all the text.
Too bad no one showed up. 11:45 came and went that afternoon, and all who were in attendance were the TAMFS team. “Bummer,” I thought, “but at least we’ll have more of a turnout this evening.”
So we got there early to set up for the evening showing: corn was popped, projector up, and chairs arranged. And then 9:15 came around and apart from the members of our team—only two individuals walked into the room; a young man and woman—no GA nametags, or iconic rainbow stoles. Come to find out, they had no idea there was a conference going on, they didn’t know about the drama unfolding next door, they had not even received a flier. Instead, the young guy named Micah and his friend Amanda had merely walked by the church as some point and seen the sign on the door, redirecting viewers to the rear entrance of the church. Later, their movie viewing at the park was called off due to rain, so they decided to check out the film at this church. Throughout the film, the two seemed quite receptive. After the movie we broke into smaller groups to discuss the film and learned a bit more about our guest.
Micah informed us that the film was one of his few experiences with Christianity. He was not a very religious person and said that he had always viewed the church as the primary opposition to GLBTQ rights. The movie served as not only a new look into scripture, but also as a new look into himself as he shared with us that he had come out just three weeks before. Micah explained that he had been feeling as though he had to relearn how to interact with the world around him and that his struggle had led to a different form of relationship with those he knew. He was still unsure as to how to approach these issues and begin to accept his sexuality. As we listened to him speak we realized that the movie had provided not only an unexpected opportunity for evening entertainment, but a means to further explore his journey and the beginning of a support system within community.
As we exited the church he said that he was feeling a little overwhelmed by the curiousness of the situation. Not only had he happened upon the movie, but as he entered the church he had also seen signs reading, “Welcome”, and one banner preparing for Soul Force’s Pray-In that cited a passage from Micah. Imagine, as he entered a church with an assumption of barriers to his newly shared identity he was greeted by signs that called out to his name specifically. There could be little explanation other than the presence of the spirit bringing the possibility of a loving home through our work. What an incredible way to reach out to a man searching for a place at a table.
Matthew Dimick and Kate Trigger