Do Queer Bloggers Really Have A Problem With Cassie Jaye’s Pro-Gay-Marriage Doc, The Right To Love?

Last night saw the premiere of The Right to Love: An American Family  at San Francisco‘s famed Castro Theatre. Director Cassie Jaye has already won acclaim for her previous effort, Daddy I Do, an exploration of the failure of abstinence-only sex education. Love tackles a different, though related topic, the right of gay people to marry and start families.

Longtime friends of Queerty Bryan and Jay Leffew are the subjects: Jaye follows the men, who share their story on the ongoing “Gay Family Values” YouTube series, as they raise their two children in sunny Santa Rosa, CA. They walk them to school, tuck them in at night and share precious “family time.”

It’s almost banal—until you remember how many people out there want to see this family torn apart.

Though Jaye is obviously on the right side of the issue, it’s  not one that’s particularly close to home. As she told

No one involved on the production end of the film was gay or lesbian.  So, we’re all straight and my whole family never had any first hand experience knowing anyone who was a gay.  So we came to the movie as a kind of blank canvas—because we didn’t know a lot about the issues. And we wanted to take on this topic from this perspective of being straight all of our lives—and having a background of being evangelical Christian.

We all grew up very strict, Bible-believing Christians and were taught that homosexuality was wrong. And with The Right to Love, well, we are all for the right of same-sex marriage, but [my family] all come from that point of view of knowing the opposing views of same-sex marriage.

We used a lot of footage in the film that really affected us, and made us believe that equality for all is what’s right.

Apparently the film has ruffled some feathers, but not the expected ones: Several queer bloggers took exception with the Leffews’ religious values. As Jay wrote in the blogpost “Right to Love…Just Don’t Pray”:

We have been sending this trailer out to any gay blogs we can think of in the hopes of highlighting the project, but they have been kicking it back because there is a scene with us saying grace around the dinner table… One blog admitted that it was the prayer specifically that made them uncomfortable. That is incredibly frustrating to me and my husband who see walls of posts on the blogs about celebrities coming out and how to check out hot guys on Google Maps. But no one wants to touch a project that could help change the way people see gay families because they are uncomfortable with it’s rather tame and low key religious element.”

Hey, we write about hot guys on Google Map and we were thrilled to cover this movie!

Visit the film’s website  for information on upcoming screenings near you.

Photos: Cassie Jaye, Adam Bouska

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  • Gigi

    I don’t think that spirituality is the problem. It’s the “religious” folks who use the bible as a weapon of justification to condemn others while living “sinful” lives themselves.
    They call us an ABOMINATION, yet the lie and cheat and are prideful and hateful and disrespectful and do not honor their father and mother and on and on. It’s the hypocrisy of those who call themselves religious – be they christian, muslim, jewish, whatever. If these gentlemen were teaching their children that The Gays are evil and we’re going to hell, then I’d take issue. They’re not. Why can’t we ever just be happy that we’re making ground in this struggle. If you choose not to get married and raise a family, so be it. But don’t judge others for living a life that doesn’t appeal to you. Isn’t there already enough judgement from the other side?

  • Mike in Asheville

    While the Leffews are not my cup of tea, nonetheless, I applaud them for their work raising awareness of gays families and gay participation in their religious lives.

    Too bad Queerty did not identify those gay blogs who are not linking this story due to a family saying grace before a meal. I get not kicking up dust, but this is an important aspect of marriage equity and civil rights.

    There has been some major league shifts in attitude toward acceptance of gays and lesbians, who are by-and-large being more and more welcomed into the American branches of the Episcopal, Methodist, and Lutheran Churches and even some congregations among the Baptist and Presbyterian Churches. Additionally, there are many Jewish Temples that openly welcome their gay and lesbian members.

    This is how change happens — new understandings of traditions.

    Perhaps, in an unintended consequence, maybe the gays and lesbians will foster a new religious understanding. By raising the question as to whether a Christian church should welcome or deny gays/lesbians is forcing churches to reconcile Mosaic Laws (Books of Moses, Old Testament) with the teachings of Christ. Except for the Catholic Church and a couple very small Protestant Churches, all the others have even reconciled Jesus’ clear and unabated stance on divorce and adultery with the modern no-fault divorce and remarriage.

    That I and many others do not believe in a personal God is unimportant to the vast majority who do. As the national polling shows, we are winning the battle for marriage equality, but to win the hearts in this battle, we need those who believe in a personal God to also believe that that God is a personal God to gays and lesbians too.

  • divkid

    of course we shouldn’t boycott this. but it’s disingenuous for the leffews or anyone else around this project not to expect that a religious aspect would make many of us pissed … about 2000 yrs worth of pissed-ness, actually. especially when you consider that this is very same dogma responsible for your plight in the first place.

    it rightly merits a groan; but, as i said, not a boycott — that’s almost as silly as worshipping a man on a stick!

  • JayKay

    If the sight of a family saying grace is a problem for you, you have issues. Serious issues.

    Oh atheists…Such an angry, spiteful bunch.

  • divkid

    “Oh atheists…Such an angry, spiteful bunch.”

    duh! as is ably demonstrated up-thread, atheists/agnostics are more likely to display calm good sense, real tolerance and above all, reason — you might have to google the last term, you won’t have encountered before in a religious book.

  • Felix

    There are religious gays and lesbians out there. People should just let people live and do their own thing as long as they are not hurting anyone else! I am not a religious person myself and seeing them praying at the table did not hurt me in any way. Those of you who are bashing them for practicing their religion are no better than the anti-gay bigots. Shame on all of you!

  • Shannon1981

    This is where there needs to be more understanding. I love that the Leffews are doing what they are doing, but they really need to understand that all of the LGBT community’s problems come from their religion. They cannot expect us, no matter how good the intent, to really be ok with religious aspects in a film about gay people. Also, it is simply unrealistic an not representative of the average gays. Sure, there are some people who are religious and gay. However, the vast majority not only are not religious, but have a huge problem with religion, and with good reason. I love that these people are on the right side of this, but they need to realize and understand that the LGBT community and the Evangelical community are not exactly on friendly terms. Watching gay people say grace, knowing what branch of Christianity the filmmakers subscribe to…well, that just isn’t gonna sit well with a lot of people.

    @JayKay: We have a right to be angry at religious people. The Bible is nothing but a hate-filled holy book that has caused us nothing but ill.

  • Netti

    Some people, no matter their sex, race, religion or sexual orientation, just like to have some one else to complain about.

  • Shofixti

    I too think it is important to know who would suppress/reject this film because of grace before a meal.

  • Queer Supremacist

    I hate Christianity more than any of you do, which is saying something, but this is good in the long run. For one thing, it caused the filmmakers to realize we are right about gay rights.

  • Queer Supremacist

    And why are you only NOW commenting on a blog post from October?

  • Okama

    If us younger LGBTs keep responding to any sign of religion with disgust, we’re going to let the breeders have a monopoly on God. Our movement has never been explicitly non-religious, and we don’t owe anything to the atheist movement, anyway (it’s not as if they’ve helped us in any way except to use us as an excuse for their already deep-set hate of religion, after all). Please don’t let the fact that a gay family says grace cause us to disown them. After all, if we expect people to accept our different ways (and there are many!) of loving other people, then can’t we at least accept their differing religious views? The conservatives want to make us out as godless, hateful, evil people; rejecting a good documentary from a reliable director simply because there was a hint of religious practice in it is only going to make our lives much, much worse.

  • CaliberGuy

    @Shannon1981: @Shannon1981: So in your opinion the 60% of gays that in a 2005 survey by Barna Group described their faith as “very important” (close to the 72% of straights, that described their faith as “very important”) and 58% said they have made an personal and ongoing commitment to Jesus Christ. I mean to me that is not showing the “vast majority” of gays being non/anti religious, it seems to show that a large majority still hold onto their faith and that it is very important to the.

    The mistake that is being made is one not distinguishing the haters who use religion as a smoke screen (just like with the civil rights movement in the past) and other supportive people of faith. The other mistake being made is that the extremely loud anti religion fraction of the gay community dose not represent the majority of gays. But it dose alienate them.

    So you now have a situation where gays of faith feel like the odd duck out and get hate flung at them by some corners of religion and also by corners of the Gay (LGBTQ) community, Thus they are not nearly as visible to ether community.

  • Shofixti

    @Queer Supremacist: I like the irony in your name.

  • divkid

    @Okama: “….and we don’t owe anything to the atheist movement, anyway (it’s not as if they’ve helped us in any way except to use us as an excuse for their already deep-set hate of religion, after all).”

    wow! you should win a darwin award for that pearl of wisdom.

    no, you owe nothing, except … YOUR FUCKING LIFE!

    your ass has been saved more times than you realise by, if not explicitly or overtly atheism, than the same anti-irrationalist enlightenment tendencies pushing back against the power of the abrahamic religions — which revere a set of peculiarly ancient laws and world views purporting to be the literal word and will of god that EXPLICITLY MANDATES YOUR EXECUTION BY STONING!

    good religious people LITERALLY and unquestionably believed this.

    your abomination aside, it’s only few centuries ago that even an otherwise good christian could be burnt alive for espousing a slightly different flavour of said religion (in islam you still could be). you think religion changed itself from within, (by what authority could it trump the word of god?), without outside pressure from rationalism, scientific evidence-based thinking (the opposite of FAITH) etc … i.e CRITICISM?

    in the span of human progress a few centuries is no time at all and so don’t imagine we couldn’t end up back there again. we could. we likely will if your attitude prevails.

    tolerance is fine and noble, but tolerating intolerance is ultimately NO tolerance; it’s the death of tolerance — it becomes the most cost-effective weapon your enemy has in order to seek your destruction — because you do the work for him!

    apropos your gf’s unfortunate belief system. i recommend an audiobook (sam harris’ “letter to a christian nation” will do) when she’s a captive audience on a long car journey. that or chaining her to the radiator :P [do they have radiators in u.s?]. tell her it’s a test of her faith: either way, for her, it’s a win/win.

  • divkid

    the stats about gay peoples religious beliefs are beside the point. people have believed a lot of strange things inimical to their own interests: slaves, that they ought to be obedient to their masters; women have believed they were inferior to men; india’s dalits have believed in a system which had marked them out as the inferior caste; jehovah’s witnesses that their children should die rather than undergo a blood transfusion; the lords resistance army’s child killers believed that god made them impervious to bullets….oh it goes on…and on…and the cause is to to be laid squarely at the door of faith itself: belief without reason or evidence.

    yes, more powerful people exploit their beliefs, but what would there be to exploit without the belief?

    clearly the religious impulse has a powerful hold, the foregoing and much besides ably demonstrates that — but also a dangerous one; and even the moderate versions tempered by non-religious, secular values, unwittingly, but inevitably allow cover for such evil.

    you say haters have hidden behind religion as a smokescreen but the very words they throw at you were fashioned in in the bible. it is they who have at the very least, as good a claim as anyone to be the true christian, for strictly and literally adhering to the words of the unalterable, timeless commands of god.

    get rid of the smoke screen by getting rid of the smoke (and mirrors). then nothing nasty can hide, religiously sanctioned or not.

  • Shannon1981

    @CaliberGuy: If you haven’t been reading, I am madly in love with a theist. However, she, and the other gay theists also understand that this belief system is in direct conflict with being LGBT. I honestly don’t care what people believe. I adopt an agree to disagree stance. Once upon a time, I couldn’t get past the BS I went through at the hands of religious zealots, but now?? Yes, I disagree with it. Yes, I find it to be, as Bill Maher puts it “the perpetuation of mass delusion.”

    However, on the other side of that, I do belong to Believe Out Loud, and am active poster on their blog, donor to their cause, and defender of their “live and let live” message. And yes, they are well aware of my feelings on religion and my belief that blind faith is dangerous. I am not trying to cast out LGBT people of faith. My only point with that post is to make these film makers understand where those of us who have a problem with religion are coming from. I stand by the thought that it is unwise for people to push religion, no matter how subtle, in a film about gay people. It is divisive and counterproductive. I respect that you and others may feel differently, but there you have it.

    @divkid: Thanks, I’ll do it on that 3 day trip to San Francisco.

  • Shannon1981

    @divkid: No chaining her to anything, though. I am usually the one getting *ahem* tied up. ;)

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