A father’s love

‘An Act of Love’ documents a minister defrocked for sanctifying his gay son’s wedding

When Tim Schaefer asked his dad, Frank (a Methodist minister), to officiate at his wedding in 2007, the proud papa eagerly agreed.

It’s the kind of request that happens a lot in families with a member of the clergy. What set this request apart, however, was that Tim wanted to marry his boyfriend … long before the Supreme Court made it legal across the U.S., and certainly in contravention of church doctrine. Frank did the wedding anyway, only to be defrocked years later.

Now, a documentary tracking the Schaefers’ experience, titled An Act of Love, is making its way around festivals (It premiered in October). But Tim, who works at the inclusive Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas, has arranged for two local screenings of the film: On Feb. 22 at the Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth at 7 p.m. and at Royal Lane Baptist Church on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. Both will be accompanied by a post-screening discussion and are free (donations will be accepted).

We spoke with the Schaefer men about the film, their relationship and how far the church still needs to go.

— Arnold Wayne Jones


Defrocked minister Frank Schaefer, in a scene from the documentary ‘An Act or Love.’

How did this documentary come about?  Frank: In December 2013 — right after I was defrocked — [filmmaker] Scott Sheppard contacted me and offered to make a documentary based on our family’s story, especially the trial and aftermath. What moved me to work with Scott is his passion for the church — he is the son of a United Methodist minister.

Tim, you now work at Royal Lane Baptist Church; what was your own religious background like growing up?  Tim: I grew up in the United Methodist Church. As a son of the minister, I was expected to be very involved in the life of the local church, which I was. I never heard the issue of homosexuality being discussed in my local congregation — it was only when my father took me to an annual regional legislative session of the UMC that I learned of the denomination’s anti-LGBTQ positions. When the pieces of legislation dealing with gay and lesbian persons came up for debate, the language was vitriolic. Both pastors and lay representatives were saying the most horrible things about gays and lesbians.

So when did you come out to your family? What was that like?  Tim: When I was in high school, I was out to several of my friends. By my senior year, my entire school knew that I was gay, as did some members of my church. To them it was no big deal, however, I had not yet come out to my parents, because I wasn’t sure how they would react. I had shared with some of my close friends that I had struggled with my sexuality to the point of seriously considering killing myself. One of my friends told her mother, who outed me to my father over the phone, fearing that I might harm myself. I remember very vividly the conversation that followed when my father confronted me with the question of whether I was gay. After telling them my story, my parents and I sat in silence for quite a while. I think they were stunned. When my dad finally spoke, he told me that he was so hurt — not because I was gay, but because I had carried all that pain by myself and didn’t feel I could come to them for help.

Frank, what was your initial reaction when Tim asked you to perform the wedding within the church?  Frank: When Tim called me to asked me to officiate at his wedding, I didn’t even hesitate. I said: “I would be honored to do this.”  After years of affirmations, I knew I had to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, even if my career was on the line.

Tim: I was initially nervous to ask my father to perform the wedding. It was important for me to have him perform it, but I also knew the consequences he faced if it became public knowledge. In the end, I decided that it wasn’t fair to make the decision for him, so I asked him, and without hesitation he said yes.

Were you both fully aware of the controversial nature of performing a same-sex wedding in the church?  Frank: After I had agreed to perform Tim’s same-sex wedding, I came to the conclusion that I had to inform my bishop and district superintendent. I did so in writing and was surprised that I didn’t face discipline at the time of the wedding [2007]. I was equally surprised when I finally did face discipline almost six years [later].

How has your relationship changed since coming out… or since the marriage ceremony?  Frank: If anything, our relationship grew stronger.  As I went through the process parents of gays and lesbians typically face, Tim’s outing story caused me to become his cheerleader.  Most of all, I sensed that Tim needed affirmation. He needed to find and accept himself for whom God made him to be, so I showed him love and support as a father as well as a representative of the Church, which should have shown him this kind of support.

Tim: I agree. This has brought us closer. I had kept a part of myself hidden from my family for so long, that it became easier to communicate more openly with them once I was out. Since then, both of my parents have supported me wholeheartedly. My father somewhat unwittingly became a national gay rights activist as a result of the ensuing trial and defrocking, and that makes me feel extremely proud of him.

Now that same-sex marriages are the law of the land, do you feel like pioneers, trailblazers… or like martyrs for the cause?  Frank: Our story has certainly become significant within the North American church, especially United Methodist circles. A lot of our LGBTQ members and their allies have been cheering us on and have taken new hope from the uncompromising stance a father and clergy person has taken to oppose the exclusionary policies and doctrines of the church. Our story seems compelling also to many conservatives as the act of love toward my son is an undeniable expression of true family values.

Is there still a lot of “hearts and minds” work that needs to be done within the church to convince hardliners of the moral sanctity of same-sex marriage (as opposed to its legal recognition)?  Frank: Yes, unfortunately. Most religious groups are lagging behind the recent developments with regard to LGBTQ and marriage equality. There remains much work to be done and hopefully, An Act of Love can play a big part in keeping the dialogue going within the church which will eventually, no doubt, lead to more acceptance of and rights for our LGBTQ constituents.

For more information about the screenings, visit Brite.edu/an-act-or-love or EventBrite.com and search “An Act of Love.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 19, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Upstairs Inferno’ sets premiere date, Rice will narrate

DSC_6794Dallas filmmaker Robert L. Camina, who caused a sensation with his documentary Raid of the Rainbow Lounge three years ago, announced that out novelist and New Orleans native Christopher Rice — son of vampire chronicler Anne Rice — will narrate his newest documentary, Upstairs Inferno. The doc, which details the largest mass-death of gays in the U.S. — a fire at a New Orleans gay bar on June 24, 1973 — will have its world premiere in NOLA on the 42nd anniversary of the deadly blaze.

The gala screening, which will take place at the Prytania Theater on June 24, will include a Q&A with Camina and some yet-to-be-released guests. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

FILM REVIEW: Carine Roitfeld, the fashionable ‘Mademoiselle C.’


Anyone who’s seen The Devil Wears Prada has at least some idea what it’s like to work at Vogue (or at least, its fictional equivalent). If you’ve seen the documentaries The September Issue or Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, you have a more accurate idea of putting out fashion magazine in the U.S.

The natural companion piece to those is Mademoiselle C, about Carine Roitfeld, the woman who, for 10 years, edited Vogue Paris until her suddenly announced retirement in 2011 to start her own U.S.-based fashion magazine.

Roitfeld isn’t a quarter the personality that Anna Wintour (or Miranda Priestly) is; she actually seems to like people. That makes for a less dramatic (or at least melodramatic) story arc. Where are the tantrums, the long-suffering assistants, the hateful aside from her critics?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lupe Valdez makes HBO’s ‘Out List’

outlist01Just in time for National Pride Month, HBO will soon be airing a new documentary called The Out List, and among the gay movers and shakers profiled is Dallas’ own lesbian sheriff, Lupe Valdez. (Others profiled include Suze Orman, Neil Patrick Harris and The Lady Bunny.)

The documentary will received a world premiere screening on Thursday (prior to its debut on HBO on June 27) with a Black Tie Dinner Captains event at the Angelika Film Center at Mockingbird Station. Valdez will be in attendance, along with the film’s director and producers, who will participate in a post-screening discussion.

The event begins with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the screening at 7.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

USA Film Fest opens with history of AIDS, Q&A

This week, I reviewed How to Survive a Plague, a fascinating and emotional documentary from journo-turned-filmmaker David France about the early days of the AIDS crisis, especially as it relates to the founding of ACT-UP. The screening kicks off this year’s 42nd annual USA Film Festival.

David France, pictured, will be in attendance, and yours truly will be moderating the question and answer session immediately following it, and bring your questions for David!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Movie Monday: Oscar nominated doc shorts at Texas Theatre

Oscar countdown

Be proud if you’ve seen all the major nominees for this year’s Oscars, but impress your watching party by throwing down some knowledge when this category comes up. The Texas Theatre helps round out those slightly obscure awards by featuring this year’s crops of documentary shorts. And the nominees are The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement, God Is the Bigger Elvis, Incident in New Baghdad,  Saving Face and The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom. The theater screens ’em all save for God, but that’ll be enough to make an informed decision and give you the edge on that Oscar pool.

DEETS: The Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd. 7 p.m. $9. TheTexasTheatre.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Five queer alternatives to the Super Bowl

Yes, Yes… I know… plenty of gay men enjoy football, are fans even, and there are lots of LBT fans as well, but if you’re like me you greet all the hoopla over the Super Bowl with a resounding “meh.”

So if you’re looking for a way to avoid a (morning) afternoon (and evening (seriously, how long are football games supposed to be?)) of indecipherable sports jargon, over-hyped commercials and disproportionate passion for the accomplishment of moving dead pig parts 300 feet here are some alternatives with a decidedly queer bent you might enjoy (don’t worry, you can Tivo Madonna’s half time show):

1. ¡Women Art Revolution at The Museum of Fine Arts

Starting from its roots in 1960s in antiwar and civil rights protests, the film ¡Women Art Revolution details major developments in women’s art through the 1970s. The Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston presents this documentary at 5 pm on Sunday at the The Museum of Fine Arts’ Brown Auditorium Theater (1001 Bissonnet). Artist Lynn Randolph and U of H art history professor Jenni Sorkin will be on hand to provide insight into the film

!W.A.R. features Miranda July, The Guerilla Girls, Yvonne Rainer, Judy Chicago, Yoko Ono, Cindy Sherman, and countless other groundbreaking figures. Tickets are $7 and are available at mfah.org.

2. The Rape of Lucrecia at Houston Grand Opera

Written by gay composer Benjamin Britten and scored by Ronald Duncan, The Rape of Lucrecia is set during the decline of the Roman Empire. When a group of soldiers unexpectedly returns home to Rome they find that their wives have all been unfaithful, with the excpection of Collatinus’ wife Lucretia. Later that night the king’s son, Prince Tarquinius, accepts a drunken dare to seduce Lucretia. After she rebuffs his advances Tarquinius forces himself on her spurring Collatinus to rebellion against the king.

The dialogue of the Opera (which is in English by the way) is punctuated by two choruses, one male and one female, who engage the audience in the emotional responses of the male and female characters respectively.

The Rape of Lucretia plays at the Houston Grand Opera (510 Preston) at 2 pm on Sunday. Tickets start at $38 and may be purchased at HoustonGrandOpera.org.

4. The Drunken City at the Rice University, Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts

“The city’s like a monster, like a sleeping dragon or some dark creature in the night that cracks open an eye, and whispers dark dangerous dark ideas into your ear.”

The Drunken City is populated by thoroughly unpleasant people, the kind of loud sequin-wearing party girls who can immediately turn a hip bar passe and the men who hunt them. Marnie, the alpha-female and soon-to-be bride, has taken her co-worker bridesmaids out on the town for a ladies night. Seriously inebriated, they soon run into Frank and Eddie. Frank quickly takes a shine to Marnie, despite her girlfriends objections. Eddie, on the other hand, isn’t interested in any of the girls but seems to know their shared boss quite well (if you catch my drift). The play is sprinkled through with warnings about human desire and the dangers of consumption.

The Drunken City is presented by the Rice University College of Visual and Dramatic Arts at Hamman Hall on the Rice Campus (6100 Main) at 3 pm. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or by calling 713-348-PLAY .

Steve Bullitt as Hay and Mitchell Greco as Gernreich

4. The Temperamentals at Barnvelder Movement/Arts Complex

The off-Broadway hit The Temperamentals, by Jon Marans, explores the events surrounding the founding of the Mattachine Society, one of the first “gay rights” groups in America (although the Society for Human Rights has it beat by a quarter of a century). The story centers on Harry Hay (Steve Bullitt), a communist and Progressive Party activist and his lover Rudi Gerneich (Mitchell Greco), a Viennese refuge and costume designer. Set in the early 1950′s in Los Angeles, the play is an intimate portrayal of two men who created history and the epic struggle they overcame.

Sunday’s curtain for the Celebration Theater produced play is at 3 pm at the Barnvelder Movement/Arts Complex. Tickets are $30 and may be purchased at buy.ticketstothecity.com.

5. Closing Night of Bring It On: The Musical at Theater Under the Stars

Bring It On: The Musical finishes up its run at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts (800 Bagby Suite 300) on Sunday. Theater Under the Stars (TUTS) presents this musical re-imagining of the 2000 film with a matinee at 2 pm and an evening showing at 7 pm.

Two rival cheer-leading squads are out for the national championship, and neither is going to give up without a fight. The ensemble for the show features some of the nation’s most skilled competitive cheerleaders led by Taylor Louderman and Adrienne Warren as the leaders of the rival squads.

Tickets start at $24 and are available on-line at TUTS.com, by phone at (713) 558-TUTS (8887), or in person at the Theatre Under The Stars Box Office (800 Bagby).

—  admin

“Gen Silent” explores challenges facing the elderly LGBT community

Gen Silent PosterThere are almost 38 million LGBT Americans over the age of 65. This number is expected to double by 2030. Yet in a Fenway Institute study fifty percent of nursing home workers said that their co-workers are intolerant of LGBT people. That collision of a rapidly aging queer population and a nursing home system ill-prepared to serve them is explored in Gen Silent, a documentary showing at the GLBT Cultural Center (401 Branard) on Thursday, January 26, at 6:30 pm.

Gen Silent, from award-winning director and documentary filmmaker Stu Maddux, follows six LGBT seniors as they struggle to make decisions about their twilight years. These seniors put a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender seniors so afraid of discrimination in long-term health care that many go back into the closet.

Gen Silent startlingly discovers how oppression in the years before Stonewall now leaves many elders not just afraid but dangerously isolated and at risk on not receiving medical care. The film shows the wide range in quality of paid caregivers –from those who are specifically trained to make LGBT seniors feel safe, to the other end of the spectrum, where LGBT elders face discrimination, neglect or abuse, including shocking bed-side attempts by staff to persuade seniors to give up their “sinful” lifestyles.

This free screening will be followed by a call-to-action and panel discussion with some of Houston’s GLBT senior leaders.

View the trailer for Gen Silent after the break.

—  admin

Camina raising funds to complete Rainbow Lounge documentary before March premiere

Filmmaker Robert Camina

Filmmaker Robert Camina said his new film Raid of the Rainbow Lounge is currently being mixed at a sound studio, and he is raising money to pay off costs incurred and post-production expenses as well as pay for distribution fees.

The 100-minute documentary details the bar raid that took place in Fort Worth on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. The Rainbow Lounge raid left two patrons of the bar injured, including one with severe head injuries.

“But I hope it has an inspiring message,” Camina said.

He said the film goes beyond documenting the raid to tell the story of the progress Fort Worth’s LGBT community made as a result of the incident. The raid, conducted by two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents and seven Fort Worth police officers, led to new transgender protections in the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, a police liaison to the LGBT community, sensitivity training for all city employees and a variety of other advances.

Before making this film, Camina’s experience was with comedies.

“I learned more about politics making this film,” he said.

The film is narrated by Meredith Baxter, and Camina hopes to premiere it in March in Fort Worth.

Contributions to expenses for the film can be made here. As a thank you, Camina Entertainment is offering mugs, T-shirts and autographed copies of Baxter’s book, Untied.

—  David Taffet

SMU marks World AIDS Day with film screening

Dec. 1 isn’t just World AIDS Day — it’s also the 22nd annual Day With(out) Art, a movement launched in 1989 by the group Visual AIDS to mark the effect of the AIDS crisis on the arts community. In observance of the day, SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts will be among more than 50 colleges, museums and arts groups holding a free screening of the film Untitled.

Untitled, from Jim Hodges, Encke King and Carlos Marques da Cruz,  is an hour-long,  non-linear documentary featuring montages of archival footage recalling the period of activism in the early days of the AIDS crisis. The screening will take place in the Greer Carson Screening Room (room 3527) of the Owen Arts Building on SMU’s campus, 6101 Bishop Ave. at 5:30 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones