LGBTQ documentary seeks to bring all sides together to listen to stories

A call to love documentary
Courtesy of Jennifer Burrows

SPOKANE, Wash. — Before Pride Month ends, there’s a new documentary out that people can watch about Spokane that shares stories of religious trauma among the LGBTQ community, in order to bring about reconciliation and healing.

The documentary, “A Call to Love,” is a collection of stories and conversations from nine locals, which includes members of the LGBTQ community, moms of children who have come out, local pastor Russ Davis of New Community church, and local clinical psychologist Dr. Shawn Horn.

It is also about the non-profit, Wonderfully Made, which advocates for the LGBTQ community, especially within religious settings. The organization connected with those who were willing to be part of the film, and directed the overall messaging and edits.

Nichole Mischke, who filmed the documentary, said it was two years in the making and supposed to be in-person events where people told their stories, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit they decided to change plans and planned to share the stories on social media. However, once they saw they had hours of produced stories, they decided to turn it into a documentary and share all of the stories at once.

There are three groups that Mischke hopes will see the film:

  1. Anybody who is closeted in the LGBTQ community and feel like they can’t be themselves.
  2. People who are closeted allies within the Christian church who feel they want to be allies to the LGBTQ, but don’t know how to reconcile for anti-LGBTQ beliefs they’ve been taught. Mischke said the film emboldens them to speak out and talk about it.
  3. Those who believe being LGBTQ is wrong.

Mischke explained that they wanted the film to tell stories in a way that would not offend or trigger either side and they could just listen, adding it is about coming together and listening to people’s stories. She believes it has the power to ignite love, reconciliation, understanding and healing.

“We understand that for people who have experienced religious trauma it could be really triggering to even think about watching this documentary because it can trigger a lot of pain for people who have experienced that sort of trauma. We were very intentional to know that we’re gonna have two very different audiences watching,” Mischke said.

Wonderfully Made’s co-founder and president, Jennifer Burrows, said their are a lot of different perspectives and one story leads to another. There’s a lot of trauma, but there’s also a lot of love and hope.

“We’re just hoping that it can impact the community in really positive ways, maybe people who have never given this type of topic a second thought and might give them pause to realize that they hopefully can give themselves a space to challenge their belief systems to create a safer, different world for this community,” Burrows said.

Burrows’s hope is that people can resonate with it or at least try to understand someone’s pain and realize what they’re going through and want to do better. She thinks that’s where the conversation has to start.

Not only do they want the trauma of LGBTQ members to be understood, Mischke also said it is important to have compassion for those who have anti-LGBTQ beliefs.

“I hope people understand that it is important to have compassion for the extremely conservative evangelical Christian perspective, because those people are doing the best they can with what they have been taught and what they know,” Mischke said. “No one can expect someone to just instantly switch their views overnight. The only way that we’re gonna give these people permission to change their minds is with love, grace and compassion.”

Burrows said her organization’s goal is to start conversations and get people to realize that, often times, what they’re taught about the LGBTQ in a church setting has real life impacts on these people. These impacts include conversion therapy and parents kicking their kids out of the house.

“What [social workers in Spokane] have is parents that feel compelled to kick their LGBTQ child out of the home once they’ve come out, or they happen to find out, because they don’t believe that it’s in-alignment with what they’ve known all their life, biblically,” Burrows said. “I don’t think that it comes from a place of not loving their child, I think it’s misguided and it’s sad, and I think they probably viewed it as tough love.”

She also hopes for reconciliation and create healing within families, especially between parents and their kids.

To people who believe they can’t watch the documentary because it’s sinful, Burrows said she understands this because she grew up in that background and they created the documentary with a lot of love and intention, and a huge amount of respect. They hope that people who feel conflicted will take time listen to some stories.

The documentary is free and available for streaming and people can register on Wonderfully Made’s website through Eventbrite. The trailer can also be found here.