A recent film highlighted the joy and love that can be experienced by queer people in Catholic environments.
Entitled Your Name Engraved Herein, the film depicts a feature-length, queer love story at an all-boys Catholic school. The film, released in Taiwan’s theaters to rave reviews in 2018, is now being streamed on Netflix (a trailer is available at the end of this post or by clicking here). It has been praised by many, including for its personal and touching coming-of-age themes.
As the highest-grossing Taiwanese LGBTQ film of all time, it was released before the recent legalization of marriage equality in Taiwan in 2019. Set in 1987, a period when the country’s state of martial law had lifted but where anti-gay oppression remained strong, the film includes a Catholic priest, Fr. Oliver, to whom A-Han, the main character, confides his crush. Time quoted the director Patrick Liu saying about that scene:
“‘During the process of writing the script, what I thought was that no one can play the role of God and judge people for their gender or who they want to love. We are not God so we don’t have the right to be like him and tell Adam and Eve, you are naked and sinful.'”
Time reported further, “The tension between faith and sexuality is one of the main forces driving the film, which opens with a line from Song of Solomon 8:7: ‘Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.’”
Marriage equality is still not legal in most of Asia—Taiwan is the only exception. Having grown up in a Christian household, many of the themes which relate to faith and sexuality are personal to Liu. He said that around 80% of the events in the film are depictions of his own first experience of love. Liu hopes that his personal love story can show people around the continent that “there are no differences between homosexual or heterosexual relationships.” He said, “There’s still pain, there’s still envy. We hope to show people that in homosexual relationships, love is still love.”
“We really hope that through Netflix the LGBT communities in other parts of Asia can see it,” Liu says. “The LGBT communities need a movie like this to tell them, ‘You are allowed to love, you are not guilty.’”
In a related film note, the National Catholic Reporter published a queer author’s tremendously positive review of a new Latinx Netflix show, “Selena: The Series.” The series covers the life of “legendary Tejano singer” Selena Quintanilla, focusing on the unfolding of her life, art, and dreams, and ultimately her brutal murder at age 23. Reviewer Jose Solís, a queer Latinx immigrant, commented:
“’How refreshing it is as a queer Latinx immigrant to spend hours witnessing the joys of my people. I know well enough about our pain and the racism we’re subjected to, particularly over the last four years. So witnessing the other side feels miraculous. Another reason why “Selena: The Series” is the perfect Christmas gift from an industry that has rarely deemed us human enough to be worth representing.'”
Be sure to check out these two works for positive depictions of faith, joy, and love!
—Madeline Foley, New Ways Ministry, January 13, 2020