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New Wexner screening to document LGBTQ issues in evangelical communities

Wexner Center for the Arts will present “The Gospel of Eureka,” a short film about the relationship between the LGBTQIA+ and Evangelical Christian communities this weekend. Credit: Courtesy of Kino Lorber

A documentary about the relationship between the LGBTQIA+ and Evangelical Christian communities in a small town is coming to Ohio State’s campus.

The Wexner Center for the Arts will present “The Gospel of Eureka,” a short film that takes place in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Directed by Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri, the film takes a look at the intersection of sexual identity and religion through the lens of performing arts. Mosher said the pair saw a dialogue about Christianity in the two communities, and that while each one had different “versions” of Christianity, the two fostered a bond.

“We thought that was a subject that hadn’t been explored quite in the way that the town of Eureka presented to us,” Mosher said.

The film began as a commission for Field of Vision, a documentary/short production company, to go to Arkansas and cover the bathroom bill ballot that was voted on in Eureka Springs. Donal and Palmieri’s documentary was the company’s first commissioned short film.

Palmieri said when they arrived in Eureka Springs, they found “a lot of other crazy stuff.”

“We realized we wanted to continue building the project and make it richer than a short possibly can, so we just kept going and spent about three years down there,” Palmieri said. “The resulting film was the ‘Gospel of Eureka.’”

This preliminary comparison of the usage of performance between the Evangelical Christian and LGBTQIA+ communities to convey aspects of their identity, such as religion, is a major feature portrayed in this film.

Mosher said people don’t think of performativity, which is language that induces social action, as being related to to conservative Christianity. However, in LGBTQIA+ culture, performativity is an act of resistance and cultural expression.

Palmieri explained that both sides of the conversation live in small towns and consequently, he believes citizens have to try to get along.

“At the end of the day, everyone has to shovel each other’s snow and get through the day,” Palmieri said. “So you see that people are willing to push their sides of the argument, but also the way that there’s a natural point where people have to agree to disagree or somehow come to a resolution.”

Mosher emphasizes that rights of the people of the LGBTQIA+ community are still under threat, and that battles still need to be fought, especially in the south, according to Mosher.

Mosher said many political and religious views are “exploited at their most divisive,” and that the film tries its best to make many issues less divisive.

“Drag in the south is a much more radical thing than it is anywhere else,” Mosher said. “We don’t want to forget that just because you can see drag on TV doesn’t mean that there aren’t places where it means something deeper, as a form of queer resistance.”

The showings on Friday and Saturday both begin at 7 p.m. Admission is $6 for students and $8 for the general public.

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