On Monday night I attended the Seattle International Film Festival screening of the new documentary "8: A Mormon Proposition."
The screening was at the Egyptian Theater, a beautiful old two story theater on the crest of Seattle's gay friendliest neighborhood, Capitol Hill. The house was packed.
"8: A Mormon Proposition" did an excellent job documenting the long history of the Mormon and Catholic Churches infiltrating state marriage equality campaigns, with the unquestionable goal of derailing any chance for gay and lesbian equality.
In California, during the Proposition 8 campaign in 2008 that eventually led to the removal of rights for same sex couples to marry, the film informed a stunned audience that approximately 2.5% of California's population was Mormon, yet nearly 75% of the money that funded proposition 8 came directly from Mormons.
The film was careful not to demonize the Mormon people. Rather, it clearly demonstrated that the Mormon leadership victimizes two distinct populations, the Mormon people, and the gay and lesbian communities. I left the film feeling sorry for Mormons who live in constant fear of rejection by the Apostles, a group of old white men who claim to have regular "in person" conversations with Jesus in the Mormon Temple.
But even while I felt empathy for the Mormon people, my deepest pain was for the gay, lesbian, and transgender youth who are trapped in a culture that teaches them death is a better alternative to being gay.
According to the film, and a Mormon mother of two gay children Millie Watts (pictured) who spoke after the screening, Mormon families often feel relieved after their gay children commit suicide. Consequently Salt Lake City, Utah faces a suicide and homeless youth epidemic. "We know a few young Mormons who took their life during Proposition 8," Watts said. "Sometimes during their funerals I just wanted to stand up and shout, 'but this was a good kid!'"
It was clear the movie made an impact on the audience. Tears flew freely throughout. The pain of Proposition 8 is still in my heart, and it was clearly in the hearts of others Monday night.
Millie told the audience Monday night, "I only hope people don't leave here angry with Mormon people. I strongly believe Mormon people are good people. It is the Mormon leadership that needs to change."
Disclosure: I am on the Board of Directors for the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) who was a sponsor of Seattle's screening. The views in this post are entirely my own and do not represent the views of the Board or GSBA.