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Homosexuality and Catholicism Bibliography:
Section XIV: Lesbian and Gay Christian Movies and TV

© Paul Halsall


Some, but not all, listings and comments come from the The GLBO-Centered Film List compiled by Frank Swilling (30 Jun 94), Minotaur@cup.portal.com

The Agony and the Ecstasy, 1965 USA, (Movie), concerns the life, struggles and art of Michaelangelo Buonaroti. Played by Charlton Heston, there is no mention that the artist was gay - so a classic case of erasing homosexuality. Still, next time you are in Rome, take a close look at the men's bodies in the Sistine chapel!

Black Narcissus, 195? UK (Movie), set in an Anglican convent in the Himalayas, portrays intense emotions between the sisters. A stunning movie shot entirely in studio.

The Boys in the Band, William Friedkin, 1970 USA (Movie), was the first Hollywood movied in which all the main characters were gay. The leading figure - Michael - a a tortured and torturing gay Catholic. The movie was attacked by gay activists at the time, but, as gay filmographer Vito Russo pointed out, it gave ample evidence of what evil the closet inflicted, and why the closet had to be broken.

The Boys of St. Vincents, Canada, (TV Series: released as a movie) looks at the issues of sexuality and repression, leading to sexual abuse, in a Canadian orphanage.

Brideshead Revisited, Granada TV, UK , (TV series) based on Evelyn Waugh's novel. The writer of the Screenplay, John Mortimer, insisted that the main characters were not gay, but both actors played the relationship as gay. There was also a reference to "silk shirts and vices high on the list of deadly sins". Waugh seems to have been reflecting on his own early homosexual experiences at Oxford.

La Cage aux Folles [Birds of a Feather] Edouard Molinaro, Director 1979 : France : 110 minutes : Gay/Gay Transvestite : Comedy : Renato's son is bringing his fiance's conservative parents home to meet the family : Renato (his gay father), and Albin (Renato's lover), an aging female impersonator who raised the boy as "her" son. Watch for the priest at the end!

Caravaggio, Derek Jarman, Director 1986 : UK : 93 minutes, (Movie), about the life and loves of the painter Caravaggio. Lots of queer cardinals.

Citizen Cohn, 1992 : Gay : Biographical Drama : Made-for-HBO movie about infamous lawyer Roy Cohn, a Jew who prosecuted the Rosenbergs, a queer-hating homosexual who was the prime shaker behind Senator Joe McCarthy's anti-communist & homosexual witch-hunt in the 1950's. Includes such delightful scenes as Cohn being entertained after dinner at J. Edgar Hoover's home by Hoover's true love -- Deputy FBI Director Clyde Tolson -- at the piano, and a restaurant scene with Cohn eating from the plate of one the other most influential right-wing closet-cases of the day: Francis Cardinal Spellman.

Entre Tinieblas [Dark Habits] Pedro Almodovar, Director 1983 : Spain : 95 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : In a convent in Madrid, the Mother Superior has fallen in love with the female singer Yolanda. A hard-eged, intentionally offensive religious satire, not as original or as funny as Almodovar's later films.

Extramuros, 1985 : Spain : Lesbian : Drama : A dark story of love and ambition behind convent walls. Sister Angela decides to fake stigmata to save her convent from ruin; her devoted lover reluctantly agrees. But Angela's scam brings them unexpected fame as well as new enemies who could destroy their relationship.

Fated To Be Queer, Pablo Bautista, Director 1992 : 29 minutes (Movie): A moving documentary that illuminates issues and concerns for the Filipino American gay community.

The Fourth Man [De Vierde Man], Paul Verhoeven 1983 : The Netherlands : 102 minutes , (Movie) about obsessive religious and sexual desire.

Frost in May, UK, (TV series) based on Antonia White's novel of a Catholic girls' school.

A Hard God, 1980 : Australia : 82 minutes : Gay : Drama :A depressing made-for-Australian-TV movie wherein a working class Catholic family in Sydney endure tough times and misery in the 1940s. In the middle of it all, the 16-year-old son tries to cope with falling in love with a male friend.

Heart of the matter : fighting against nature, written/presented by Joan Bakewell. London : BBC, July 1992.

Holy Mary , 1991 5 min, A collage film which intercuts images of Pope J.P. 2, Fashion Experts, and a sex-change medical specialist. The result: an outrageously funny look at gender, fashion, and the head of the world's largest gay sex club.

The Hunting Season, Rita Moreira, Director 1992 : Brazil : 30 minutes : GLBO : Brazil's gay and lesbian population are being slaughtered in a ghastly series of hate crimes. Intercutting scenes from Hollywood movies (The Deer Hunter and Cruising), director Moreira stops people on the streets of Sao Paolo for a quick health check on the state of the nation. "They should be killed," is the most common reply.

In the Name of the Father, 199? HBO, USA (TV Movie) concerns a sexually abusive priest and the way the hierarchy has hidden this problem while continuing to condemn adult sexual relationships.

In This House of Brede, George Schaefer, Director 1975 : UK : 100 minutes : Lesbian : Drama : A young nun gets a crush on older one who wants to reciprocate but cannot.

Jeffrey, 1995: US: based on a play by Paul Rudnik about a gay man's fear of intimacy in the age of AIDS. It features a gay Catholic priest with strongly pro-sex views - which he dispenses in the confessional at St. Patrick's cathedral.

Law of Desire [Ley del Deseo] Pedro Almodovar, Director 1987 : Spain : 100 minutes : Gay/Transsexual : Comedy/Drama : Screwball tragicomedy centering on a gay film director, his transsexual brother (now a sister, who is played by a born-female actress), and two of his young lovers. Watch for Antonio Banderas and his frenetically Catholic mother.

Lot in Sodom, James Watson and Leville Webber 1933 US, (Movie) set in Sodom with, according to Vito Russo, "glitter queens running the show".

Mass Appeal, Gelnn Jordan 1984 US, (Movie), about a radical young seminarian in a rich parish and the challenge he presents to the comfortable old pastor.

No Need to Repent: The Ballad of Rev. Jan Griesinger, 1989 : Lesbian :Reverend Jan Griesinger is an "out" minister in the United Church of Christ who has integrated her ministry, her politics and her personal life. The story of a courageous contemporary feminist, this film reveals some of the many levels of her activism.

On Being Gay: A Conversation with Brian McNaught Ron Robin, Director 1986 : 86 minutes :(VHS Video), an exploration of a number of issues. Often used by groups wishing to explore gay and spiritual issues [more info from TRB Productions, Box 2362, Boston MA 02107) Gay :

One Nation Under God, Teodoro Maniaci, Francina Rzeznick, and Zinka Benton, Directors 1993 : 83 minutes : GLBO : Focusing on the contemporary religious Right Wing proliferation of curative therapies for homosexuality, this riveting documentary offers historical context as well as a political analysis of this frighteningly large movement.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, UK, (TV series) based on Jeannette Winterton's accoun of a young Lesbian's evangelical childhood. Not Catholic, but we understand!

Priest, Angela Bird Director 1994, UK, (Movie) - set in Liverpool, this is the story of a conservative Catholic priest and his movement towards self-acceptance of his gayness in the context of his placement in a poor Liverpool parish. It is wonderfully acted, and presents some of the best representations of gay men to found in any film. The sex scenes alone set new standards in realistic but not exploitative representation. The most attractive character in the movie is, however, the straight parish priest - a heartening example of modern priesthood.

Salome's Last Dance, Ken Russell, Director 1988 : UK : Gay : Drama : A typical Russell extravaganza, wherein Oscar Wilde is invited to a bordello to view a wildly decadent version of his banned play "Salome".

Seams, Karim Ainouz, Director 1993 : Brazil/USA : 30 minutes : GLBO : A personal account of Brazil's social and sexual constraints for women and gay men, seen through the eyes of the women in the director's family.

Sebastiane, Derek Jarman 1977 90 mins UK, (Movie), unique movie with dialogue in Latin and actors nearly naked most of the tiime. Aimed at classicists, gay men, and Catholics. The story of St. Sebastian, who was sent to be outreaches of the Roman Empire after objecting to the murder of a young Christian page. There he carries on an affair with his commanding officer, whereupon he is brutally murdered by his jealous fellow soldiers.

Stop the Church, 1991?, 23 mins US, (TV Documentary), looks at ACT-UP/New York's demonstration against Cardinal O'Connor. This was broadcast on PBS amidst great furor. It makes no attempt to be non-partisan.

This Special Friendship [Les Amities Particuliers] Jean Delannoy, Director 1964 : France : 105 minutes : Gay : Drama : A relationship between an older boy and a younger boy at a strict Catholic boy's school ends in disaster when the priests voice their disapproval with increasingly heavy-handed tactics.