By Richard Schultz, Feb. 26, 2015.
Documentary filmmaker Markie Hancock (pictured) insists that extremist fundamentalism is the last bastion that must be overcome for full acceptance and inclusion of LGBT individuals in society.
In this new documentary, Queers in the Kingdom: Let Your Light Shine, which will be presented as part of the Sedona Film Festival, Hancock probes the intersecting circles of evangelical Christianity, the gay civil rights movement.
The film also focuses on OneWheaton, a group of LGBTQ alumni and allies from Wheaton College, Billy Graham’s alma mater, as they take action to support current students and each other as many connect to their backgrounds and college experience for the first time.
The film asks such provocative questions as “Why are religion and the Bible used against homosexuals?” and “Why are evangelical Christians especially condemning of LGBTQ people and feel free to call us ‘sinful’?”
This kaleidoscopic lens shines a light on the deeply historical and discriminatory roots of evangelical Christianity, and the growing visibility of queer liberation which challenges Bible-based homophobia. The testimonies of LGBTQ survivors from Christian colleges and religious upbringings reveal both the damaging impact of evangelicalism and a spirited resistance to continued religious oppression.
Documentary filmmaker Markie Hancock's Queers in the Kingdom: Let Your Light Shine will be presented as part of the Sedona Film Festival. (Read more on the Sedona Film Festival here.)
“The evangelical Christian community is lagging 30 to 40 years behind the mainstream culture,” she said. “Being evangelical, you lived a hidden life. It’s how we existed and survived it. We are now discovering each other which leads to a healing process and then activism.”
Hancock is known for independent documentaries, including Born Again (2007), a film chronicling her own religious struggles. She has been making documentaries for 20 years covering topics that range from issues regarding race and education, as well as LGBT rights.
“Often some of the evangelical Christians want to hold on to the notion of ‘we love you, but …’ The time has come for no more buts,” she said. “Many cite that they have Christian compassion for LGBT individuals. Yet, what we need is their acceptance.”
After graduating from Wheaton College in Illinois, Hancock attended Princeton Theological Seminary, but left to finish her studies in Berlin, where she began to explore a world in stark contrast to the one she was raised in.
“The first Christian college was Harvard University. Early colleges were there to train ministers,” she said. “The documentary traces the arc of these types of schools that became secular, partially thanks to Darwin and his theories. Christian colleges still remain the evangelical 19th century bastion that they once were.”
Hancock used Kickstarter to raise more than $58,000 to finance her documentary, which was four years in the making. She believes it is important to explore the issue on how to grant religious freedom and grant individuals and other communities their autonomy and expression while also addressing religious discrimination.
Additionally, she said she passionately believes that it is an act of protest just to say we exist.
“That old phrase, ‘We’re here, we’re queer’ is still powerful, especially within evangelical communities where it’s OK to be homophobic with policies justified through the Bible,” she said.
For more information, or to watch the trailer, visit kickstarter.com/projects/316656455/let-your-light-shine.