Gay Christian pop duo Jason & deMarco want to make it big.
I learned a few things when I watched "We're All Angels," a documentary film about the couple and the making of their recent album.
Oh, not just about the couple themselves, as revealing as the documentary is about their relationship, their sex life, their ambitions, and personalities. By what it shows - and what it decidedly doesn't - the film reminds me of a few important platitudes:
WALK THE WALK. Jason is great at spontaneous prayer, and leads prayers during their concerts, but their professional Christianity is the only spiritual practice shown in "We're All Angels." It would have been nice to see the couple studying and praying together, attending churches where they weren't performing, working with a spiritual director, doing yoga, or meditating. It would have been nice to see them working on their spiritual development in their personal lives, too.
I'm not suggesting that they don't, just that the documentary doesn't show it, which is unfortunate.
Because I run MyOutSpirit.com, I talk about LGBT-affirming spiritual beliefs and practices all the time, but talking the talk is one thing. The film reminds me that I, too, need to be more open about walking the walk.
DEMANDING DON'T DO IT. "We're All Angels" shows Jason & deMarco complaining quite a lot about how their music career isn't successful because of anti-gay discrimination from mainstream Christian pop culture. They have very definite ideas about what other people SHOULD be giving them.
What the film doesn't show is Jason & deMarco taking action to GET what they want. The film doesn't show them approaching mainstream Christian magazines (Relevant, perhaps), music festivals (Greenbelt?), conferences or churches in an attempt to build relationships that could open doors for them, professionally. Maybe they used to do that and gave up - Jason apparently had a mainstream Christian music career that fizzled when he came out - but one gets the impression that they just don't feel like they should have to work that hard. That, in a perfect world without discrimination, they'd be beloved by millions already.
They could be right, but demanding that the Other give you what you think you deserve is never an effective tactic. It places you forever in a state of lack and disempowerment. It places the responsibility for change on someone else somewhere out there, when, in fact, the first person who has to change is you.
"We're All Angels" reminds me to take 100% responsibility for my life and work.
BOOTSTRAPPING TAKES BALLS. Don't get me wrong - Jason & deMarco are working their asses off! They are an unsigned act, which means they don't have a major record label fronting the costs for album production or promotional materials or tours. "We're All Angels" shows these guys traveling almost every weekend, performing in small LGBT-affirming churches all over the country. No entourage, no limos, no white lilies waiting in the hotel room - half the time, no decent sound system.
But they don't give up. Even when they're frustrated and tired, they get on the plane and up on that tiny stage and sing their hearts out. Even when their own managers let them go, they keep moving forward to get the job done - pressing and shipping their own CDs.
If there's a pro-gay picnic in the park, they'll show up and do their best to inspire the crowd. Humbly. Bravely. Honestly.
Any entrepreneur out there will tell you how hard it can be. I can tell you, if you're not sure! But most entrepreneurs don't have to go through half of what Jason & deMarco go through.
They work HARD, but because they're doing what they love - and each with the MAN he loves, at that - they seem to find a lot of joy in it.
COMING OUT SPIRITUALLY SAVES LIVES. Most powerfully, "We're All Angels" reminds us how far we have to go. The film opens with Jason reading some of the emails Jason & deMarco receive from young gay Christians experiencing great inner conflict. The emails say how much their music helps. Their love helps. Their courage helps.
Jason & deMarco have taken on the responsibility for a liberation movement. The power of their public presence as a gay Christian couple, singing praises to god and love songs to each other, helps people who might otherwise feel hopeless, stay closeted or commit suicide.
That's a heavy duty when all you want is to be Christian pop stars, but Jason & deMarco seem to KNOW what they are, what they MEAN to people, and embrace and honor that responsibility.
You know, as one cultivates one's spiritual perspicacity, it's easy to forget that there are always people just starting the journey. There are still people who wrestle with those fundamental early questions - most commonly, "I'm LGBT. How can I be sure that God loves me, too?"
An acquaintance of mine committed suicide less than two weeks ago. He was 20 years old. There was no note, but the night before he hung himself in his closet, he asked a friend, "Do you think God lets gay people into Heaven?"
Whatever tradition we come from, every self-actualized LGBT person shares that enormous responsibility with Jason & deMarco - to support, to shepherd, to witness and to love our LGBT sisters and brothers, wherever they are on their journeys.
And, however human they may be, we also need to support those who lead the charge, including Jason & deMarco. Buy something from their online store, book them to perform in your community, and join their Facebook group.