Many of us feel some sort of divisive angst about our parents, and many of our youthful blunders (say, up to age 40) we can chalk up to rebellion or wanting to piss them off. Documentary filmmaker Arthur Dong (Licensed To Kill, Coming Out Under Fire) explores the family dynamic that ensues when gay children have parents who believe homosexuality can be "cured." Susan Jester is a lesbian activist whose Pentecostal mother leads workshops on reparative therapy for homosexuality. Brett Matthews is a former Air Force lieutenant ("honorably" discharged for being gay) whose Mormon-bishop father communicates with him only through letters. Then there’s openly gay Republican Brian Bennett, the former chief of staff, campaign manager, and surrogate son of conservative Congressman Bob Dornan, a virulent opponent of gay rights.
The heart of the problem is these individuals’ unwillingness to separate from the family members who are causing them pain and public humiliation. Dong’s film is straightforward and even-handed (he refuses to demonize the anti-gay viewpoint), but often intimate and disturbing as well. Most chilling of all is the footage that seems an afterthought: hateful slogans and sneers at rallies, and childhood photographs, pink and blue and blameless, displayed surreptitiously in parents’ homes.