There have been innumerable feature films about young people
"coming out" as gay to themselves, and their family and friends.
There are very few movies that deal with young gay people as they
also struggle with their spiritual beliefs. Directors Larry Grimaldi and
Kirk Marcolina address such a topic in the inspiring documentary
CAMP OUT, which focuses on an eclectic group of ten boys and girls
ranging in age from 14 to 18 who were selected to attend the first
overnight summer program for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered
Christian youth. For some, their faith means a great deal, while others
are struggling with what exactly it means to be both homosexual and
Christian, especially in light of the fact that many religious denominations
Bay Lake Camp was the brainchild of Pastor Jay, an openly gay
member of the clergy in a committed relationship who was ordained by
his congregation over the objections of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America (ECLA). Pastor Jay and the group of other camp founders
wanted to create a safe space where teenagers could "celebrate both
their sexuality and their spirituality." The film documents how this select
group handles the issue -- each in his or her own manner.
The filmmakers have chosen to turn their focus on a handful of the
group, as evidenced by the introductory phase of the movie where
some of the kids are introduced. Scancy, 17, is a self-proclaimed bisexual
Goth girl who isn't really sure just what she believes. Her upbringing was
conservative and she has had experiences at summer camp that will
haunt this one. Jesse, 17, is the handsome kid on whom most of the other
boys develop a crush. Christine, 16, is a loud, Elvis-loving girl who reveals
her struggles with ADHD. Tim, 15, has just completed rehab for a drug
problem and is struggling with many issues, the least of which is his
(in)abilty to make friends. Thomas, 18, is a devout believer who already
has won the support of his religious community, but he tends to take
life a little too seriously. These young men and women are the ones who
emerge as the more intriguing of the group and on whom the filmmakers
spend more time and energy.
The audience has the opportunity to watch the kids interact, debate,
and discuss their belief systems. It's a bonding experience for some. In
general, the film manages to hold the audience's interest. Coming on the
heels of another festival screened documentary that dealt with an
Evangelical Christian camp designed to create "warriors for Christ"
and turn out the next generation of conservatives, CAMP OUT proves
to be a tonic and a great counterpoint -- showing that not all
Christians have debased the basic tenets of the religion.
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.