Queering Our Traditions: LGBT & Faith Identities in Film

March 6, 2016, 3:00 - 8:00 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building Lobby, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

The USC Office of Religious Life, LGBT Resource Center, LGBT Interfaith Advisory Council, Los Angeles LGBT Center, Level Ground,
and the USC School of Cinematic Arts, invite you and a guest to attend

Queering Our Traditions:
LGBT & Faith Identities in Film

3:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. on Sunday, March 6th, 2016

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Schedule of Events

3:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M. – LGBT Short HITS: Holiness, Identity, Tradition & Sexuality. Five short films exploring several faith traditions intersecting with LGBT lives. Panel discussion to follow.

5:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M. – Queer & Interfaith Communities Reception. All are welcome.

6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. – A Sinner in Mecca: Rare, forbidden footage illuminates the Hajj pilgrimage of openly gay, Muslim filmmaker Parvez Sharma and the challenge of Islam to LGBT lives. Panel discussion to follow.

About LGBT Short HITS: Holiness, Identity, Tradition & Sexuality


Eri Hayward was born and raised in conservative Utah County, comes from a Mormon background, was raised in the LDS church and even went to Mormon private school -- but something wasn't adding up. Eri was born a boy and it was a slow, painful journey for her to recognize that she is transgender. This film catches up with 25-year-old Eri and her supportive family just before traveling abroad for her sexual reassignment surgery.

Written and Directed by Torben Bernhard.
Provided courtesy of OHO Media. Not rated. Running time: 15 minutes.

Visit the Official Website: http://videowest.kuer.org/transmormon/


Rachel and Anita, a young Manhattanite couple, are visiting Anita's parents on the Indian reservation she grew up on, for the first time as a couple. Anita, estranged from her parents, wants the fact that they are a couple to be kept secret. In private moments Rachel fights to convince Anita that they should come out to Anita's parents and in public tries to build a relationship of her own with Anita's parents, chiefly by demonstrating her reverence for Indian culture -- a culture which Anita has no interest in. As Rachel's attempts to connect with the parents become more and more desperate, Anita begins to question whether her background is what attracted Rachel to her in the first place.

Written and Directed by Jeremy Hersh. Produced by Jonathan David Cohen.
Provided courtesy of the filmmaker. Not rated. Running time: 20 minutes.

My Mother’s Orphan

Maria, a 60 year-old devout Catholic mother is growing blind. As her sight declines, her lesbian daughter Lucha, a clumsy and shy 27-year- old photographer, pleads for her mother to move in so she can take care of her. When Maria refuses to move in until Lucha recognizes that she is NOT gay, Lucha must decide between rejecting her identity and her partner whom she lives with or rejecting her mother. While making her decision, Lucha prepares a photography project in order to show her mother she can't change.

Written and Directed by Melissa Perez. Produced by Frank Sanchez.
Provided courtesy of the filmmaker. Not rated. Running time: 11 minutes.

Visit the Official Website: http://mymothersorphanfilm.weebly.com/

The Binding of Ishmael

A young man questions the meaning of family duty when he is thrust into the violent rift between his father and brother.

Written, Directed, and Produced by Taofik Kolade.
Provided courtesy of the filmmaker. Not rated. Running time: 8 minutes.

The Seder

When openly gay Leo decides to bring his boyfriend Mitchell home for the first time at his families' Seder the boundaries of love and understanding get a little strained. Will everything go smoothly or will it all go to pot?

Written and Directed by Justin Kelly. Produced by Gerhard Gouws and Danny Mendlow.
Provided courtesy of Lifeforce Entertainment. Not rated. Running time: 6 minutes.

About A Sinner in Mecca

For a gay filmmaker, filming in Saudi Arabia presents two serious challenges: filming is forbidden in the country and homosexuality is punishable by death. For filmmaker Parvez Sharma, however, these were risks he had to assume as he embarked on his Hajj pilgrimage, a journey considered the greatest accomplishment and aspiration within Islam, his religion. On his journey Parvez aims to look beyond 21st-century Islam’s crises of religious extremism, commercialism and sectarian battles. He brings back the story of the religion like it has never been told before, having endured the biggest jihad there is: the struggle with the self.

Directed by Parvez Sharma. Written and Produced by Alison Amron and Parvez Sharma.
Provided courtesy of The Filmmaker's Collaborative. Not rated. Running time: 79 minutes.

Visit the Official Website: http://asinnerinmecca.com/
Visit the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/asinnerinmecca
Visit the Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/parvezsharma

About the USC Office of Religious Life

USC’s Office of Religious Life sponsors a variety of opportunities for exploring the spiritual dimensions of your life and learning.

We can help you find a religious home base or form a new group, handle an ethical dilemma or research a paper topic. The Office sponsors campus programs with a moral, religious or spiritual focus. It co-sponsors events with other university units and partnerships of student religious groups.

We are here for the entire USC community in times of celebration and loss, to offer benedictions at university convocations and to help organize memorial services as needed.

Visit the Official Website: https://orl.usc.edu/

About the Los Angeles LGBT Center

The Los Angeles LGBT Center is building a world where LGBT people thrive as healthy, equal and complete members of society.

We Value:

  • Respect
    We provide a workplace and service environment where individuality is seen as strength and all people are treated with fairness and dignity.
  • Excellence
    We dedicate ourselves to the highest quality in all our programs and services, and seek employees and volunteers who have a passion for helping others.
  • Inclusiveness
    We believe in the need for different perspectives and commit ourselves to representation from all members of our diverse community.
  • Innovation
    We vigorously support pioneering programs and advocacy to meet community needs.
  • Integrity
    We work together to advance the Center's mission, and we honor and apply these values in what we do and say. 

Visit the Official Website: http://www.lalgbtcenter.org

About Level Ground

Level Ground creates safe space for dialogue about faith, gender, and sexuality through the arts.

There are too few places for gracious conversation about the things that matter to us most deeply. Our churches, our families, and our selves are being broken in the crossfire. Cultural tensions continue to rise, along with rates of suicide, homelessness, and general absolution of faith. Each of us — whether gay, straight, old, young, religious or post-faith — have something at stake in the dialogue about faith, gender, and sexuality. Rather than choosing sides for debate, is there another way to move beyond what seems like an inevitable stalemate? 

Level Ground is working to create a more peaceful and redemptive conversation specifically about faith, gender, and sexuality. A conversation that can bring us back together. A conversation that puts people before ideology. And because we believe this kind of dialogue is an art, we use art to create it.

The name Level Ground comes from a prophecy in the book of Isaiah.

Visit the Official Website: http://www.onlevelground.org/

Check-In & Reservations

These screenings are free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 2:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $12.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Ave. We recommend Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago
Email: aago@cinema.usc.edu