The story has been told before. There are literally thousands and thousands of people that have lived different versions of it. Some realize that being gay and Mormon is too conflicting, so they leave their faith. Others choose to stay in the Mormon Church and rely on their faith while living a celibate life away from a relationship with someone of the same sex.
But Brigham Young University adjunct professor and independent filmmaker Kendall Wilcox’s new project, Far Between, doesn’t try to judge which is the best path. Instead, the film will be an attempt to engender a dialogue that is both civil and rational.
“The purpose of the film is not to just portray another story of a gay Mormon. Especially my own story,” Wilcox said. “We really want to promote an instinct, a habit and a culture of empathy for everyone involved and touched by the underlying question of what it means to be gay and Mormon.”
Wilcox’s film will follow him as he discusses the topic of being gay and Mormon with people from around the world. Wilcox’s film interviews an interesting array of participants. From two young, recently married young men who met at BYU, to gay men who remain firm to their Mormon teachings and avoid all intimate interaction with the same sex, it does not attempt to issue a blanket statement defining the absolute best answer for everyone.
“There are people on both sides who just want to dismiss the other’s opinion,” Wilcox said. “When you know deep down at your very being that you are attracted to members of the same sex and with that same conviction you know your faith is true, you can’t just dismiss one or the other.”
But the underlying question is not just about what it’s like to be gay and Mormon, but whether or not the choices and life of the interviewees would be a viable option, considering all the consequences of their choices.
“We’re not trying to reduce Mormonism or homosexuality to a mutually exclusive and singular option. It’s not a one or the other kind of choice,” Wilcox said. “We’re going to show all the ways people are choosing to live their lives and some of the consequences everyone has to face.”
The film will not seek to convert, judge or discriminate. Instead, it will be produced in a way to bring everyone to the table with open dialogue and, most important, empathy, Wilcox said.
After struggling to understand his own battle with his sexuality and faith, Wilcox became emotionally distant from the world and began to shut down. While going through the motions of life, he lost the will to live and amidst a suicidal bout with depression, he had an epiphany.
“I literally didn’t know what I was living for,” Wilcox said. “And at my lowest point, I knew I either had to live to help others and use my experience for positive change in the world, or give up.”
There was a void in truly unique and open-minded documentaries about being gay in the Mormon Church that shows all perspectives, which is where Far Between will come in, Wilcox said.
“I got sick of the vitriol coming from both sides,” Wilcox said. “I can’t believe how disingenuous people on the extremes of both ends could be. And we sit here, in the middle as they argue about real people. About us.”
The film project is not a BYU-sanctioned project and BYU officials have declined to comment on the film because it is not produced or funded by the school and is not finished. Far Between is scheduled to be finished by July 2012 and distribution of the film is not yet determined, but will most likely be shown at film festivals.