In this summer of lighthearted gay-themed programming, a new PBS documentary is a reminder of how disconnected glossy TV images can be from real life.
“Family Fundamentals,” from filmmaker Arthur Dong, is an intimate look at homosexual children and their devout parents. It debuts at 10 tonight on Channel 9.
Dong’s film records the heartache of people trying to reconcile familial love and their beliefs.
“It’s really hard to change their point of view. Almost as hard as changing my point of view,” says a gay son.
“Family Fundamentals” intercuts three stories: a man estranged from his Mormon family; a Pentecostal woman faith and her homosexual daughter and grandson; and a gay man who was a longtime aide and surrogate son to former U.S. Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Calif.). News stories about prominent conservatives who have homosexual children piqued Dong’s interest in making “Family Fundamentals.”
The film reels off examples, including Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter Mary is lesbian; and conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, with a gay son.
Dong cites the example of California state Sen. Pete Knight, a Republican who helped strengthen the state’s ban on gay marriage. Knight has a gay son and a brother who died of AIDS.
“I found that such a strange paradox,” Dong said. “What must Thanksgiving dinner be like for this family?”
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