There will be no Academy Award for young filmmaker Stephen Cone’s considerable achievement: Best Movie Depiction of the Evangelical Subculture Without Lampooning It. Cone’s small, heartfelt film, “The Wise Kids” (available on Netflix and iTunes), gives conservative Christians a largely sympathetic but sharp-eyed treatment. Evangelical Christians will find the music familiar. Also, the propensity to end discussions with: “I’ll send you the verse.” And the tendency of evangelical youth to end public prayers: “In Your awesome, holy, amazing, awesome, awesome name we pray.”
But the movie is important because it depicts a traditional religious community in the midst of a moral earthquake. The film’s protagonist (Tim) is a gay, Christian high school senior and not particularly anguished about the whole thing. In part, this reflects Cone’s own experience as the gay son of a Southern Baptist preacher in South Carolina, which was considerably less traumatic than you might imagine. “At the age of 12,” Cone told me, “I wanted to see ‘Philadelphia’ [a groundbreaking movie about a gay man with AIDS], and my dad took me. Afterward, there were no lessons offered, no discussion of immorality. He just let it be.”
Mostly, being Muslim isn’t easy. Mostly, neither is being gay. If you’re both, the odds are seriously stacked against you. But the good news is that a couple of committed groups are trying to reconcile the faith and sexuality of queer Muslims. And suddenly there are gay imams, gay mosques and gay retreats on the horizon.
One such retreat for gay Muslim men and women is being held in Philadelphia this May.
Sponsored by the Muslim Alliance for Gender and Sexual Diversity, it will be held at a private space in the suburbs of Philadelphia. And due to privacy concerns, the location will only be disclosed to those who register in advance. The Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity works to support, empower and connect LGBTQ Muslims.