Nashville filmmaker and activist Jennifer Sheridan has stepped up to both challenge and document the ongoing struggle by many Tennesseans to see the state progress on LGBT issues, despite the Bible-wielding lawmakers who’d prefer the clock turn back about 50 years.
It hasn’t even been a year since the ban on same-sex marriage was deemed unconstitutional and lifted by the Supreme Court, and it already seems absolutely unreal that it was ever enforced in our lifetime. While it’s unlikely we’ll return to a time when gay marriage was illegal anywhere, we’ve seen a flood of bills in conservative states trying to inch back LGBT rights wherever possible.
In Tennessee there have been 13 pieces of legislation introduced this year that threaten LGBT equality, including the recently passed HB1840, a bill that allows therapists to say no to treating LGBT patients if it would “violate sincerely held principles.” Another bill that’s being kicked around, the Natural Marriage Defense Act, seeks to dismiss the federal marriage ruling entirely.
When Sheridan first heard the SCOTUS ruling last summer, she was overjoyed. But living in a red state, she knew there would be obstacles ahead.
When the Supreme Court announced same-sex couples had the constitutional right to marry, I was over the moon. And then I realized something that made me stop in my tracks. ‘Evangelicals,’ they weren’t going to like this at all.
You don’t hear much about Tennessee, and there is some skillful maneuvering behind that, a strategic genius on the part of local church-fueled lobbying groups. Our film draws a line directly from what’s said in church on Sunday to restrictions on — and basic rights denied to — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Tennessee. Politics are ‘preached from the pulpit’ and that translates into a very politically-engaged congregation. We’ll show a small cross section of different kinds of churches with different beliefs and how those beliefs are — or are not — changing, and what that might mean for LGBT here in the future.
By taking a frank look at Tennessee politics and its entanglements with religion, Sheridan hopes to ignite a transformative conversation. “As cool as Nashville is and is perceived to be, Tennessee has been flying under the radar in regards to anti-LGBT sentiment for a long, long time. A public conversation is absolutely vital to creating change, and our film takes a well-aimed shot at that.“
SHERIDAN: We’ll show there are good people across the state. Evangelicals, straight allies, politicians, advocates, preachers, LGBT and their families. Not everybody is going to be in agreement with everything, but there will be common ground. And we plan to ask the people we meet, ‘Can’t we all just get along?’
Sheridan has just over a week left in her 30-day campaign, and she needs to raise a minimum of $10,000 in initial funding and obtain 500 followers in order to get matching funds up to $20,000 as well as an online video distribution deal.
At the time of this writing, she’s nearly 80% funded. Let’s give it that final push and see this film made!