Premiered at Sundance, Love Free or Die "Friends and Family Plan" Uses Story of Gene Robinson to Advance LGBT Equality

UPDATE: Love Free or Die was the recipient of a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for an Agent of Change. The award was presented by Heather Croall on January 28 at the conclusion of the festival. 

The Sundance Film Festival is a launching pad for some of the world’s most important and influential cinema, including many films that tackle the issues faced by the LGBT community.  This year was no exception, as you can see from GLAAD’s own list of LGBT-inclusive films screening at the fest. Now, GLAAD is proud to announce that one powerful film in particular, Love Free or Die, will partner with us to help advance LGBT equality in 2012.

Love Free or Die is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the story of the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop, Gene Robinson. After his consecration in 2003, Bishop Robinson was the center of a controversy within the worldwide Anglican Communion. The film begins with his exclusion from the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade gathering of global Anglican bishops. Facing personal exclusion from his church, threats of violence, and a lack of legal protections for LGBT families in the US, Gene Robinson became a historic figure that continues to inspire other LGBT and straight clergy, lay people, politicians, pundits, and the American people.

The Director of Love Free or Die, Macky Alston, has major plans for the film that don’t rely solely on  traditional distribution channels. As the Director of Auburn Media at Auburn Seminary, Alston is adamant the film be used as a tool that advances LGBT equality. To that end, Alston created the “Love Free or Die Friends and Family Plan,” which was officially launched at the film’s premiere at Sundance.

Alston invited LGBT faith leaders within the movement from GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Center for American Progress, and Integrity USA to participate in the launch of the friends and family plan by attending the premiere. The national faith leaders attended the local Episcopal Church in Park City, Utah for Sunday worship and for conversation about how to reach conflicted Christians and move them to support LGBT equality. At the premiere screening, Alston elevated the work that each of these individuals and organizations are doing to make the faithful case for religious equality. He also invited the audience to participate in the Friends and Family Plan by doing three simple actions:

1.       Host a screening at your home, place of worship, or school. Invite people who are conflicted about their support for LGBT equality.

2.       “Each one move one” – Commit to having a conversation with someone conflicted about LGBT equality and telling them why it’s important to you.

3.       Spread the word to let others know about the film.

In addition to participating in the launch of the Friends and Family plan, GLAAD hosted a panel at Sundance featuring Alston, Bishop Robinson, and filmmaker Sandi Dubowski (of Trembling before G-d and A Jihad for Love). A part of CineGLAAD, the panel was moderated by GLAAD’s director of Religion, Faith & Values, Ross Murray (who is also writing this post). The panel covered the relationship between the LGBT community and the faith community, how a film can be used to promote equality, and further discussion of the Friends and Family plan. Dubowski had his own similar success by accompanying Trembling before G-d with a campaign, which has since morphed into Films that Change the World.

GLAAD applauds the storytelling of Love Free or Die and is proud to support the work of the Love Free or Die Friends and Family Plan. There is no more powerful tool in the movement for equality than the simple act of reaching out to loved ones who are conflicted about LGBT equality and sharing a personal story about why it’s important to you. We ask people to view the film with loved ones and start a family conversation about what LGBT equality looks like in your state, town, or place of worship. Visit the Love Free or Die web site for more information. 

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GLAAD Southern Stories will elevate the experiences of LGBT people in six of the nation's southern states. The initiative amplifies stories of LGBT people thriving in the South, ongoing discrimination, as well as the everyday indignities endured by LGBT people who simply wish to live the lives they love, including stories of family, stories of faith, stories of sports, and stories of patriotism