Taking a Chance on God, 55 minutes, 2012
Directed by Brendan Fay
Brendan Fay will present his film and lead a discussion afterward.
“Taking a Chance on God” follows the extraordinary life of 87-year-old John McNeill from his Buffalo, NY boyhood through his experiences as a POW in Nazi Germany, his Le Moyne College years as Jesuit professor and Vietnam peace promoter, leading gay rights advocate, and loving partner of 47 years to Charles Chiarelli. McNeill, author, founder of the LGBT Catholic group Dignity/New York, and a gay community leader during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, refused to be silenced by the Vatican on LGBT issues. This resulted in his expulsion from the Jesuit priesthood.
Father McNeill’s dedication to human rights and equality for LGBT people started early in his career as a priest. In 1970, he published three articles in The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, a publication for Roman Catholic clergy that addressed what he saw as the church’s doctrinal failings when it came to the treatment and acceptance of LGBT people. In 1972, those three articles would become the basis for the original Dignity Statement of Position and Purpose. That same year, Father McNeill convened the first meeting of a Dignity chapter in New York, which drew over 200 people. In 1976, he published The Church and the Homosexual, a groundbreaking book that led to television appearances in which Father McNeill argued for the dignity of LGBT people. He also came out in front of millions of people as a guest on the Today Show. Throughout the early 1980s, Father McNeill worked within his order for equality for LGBT people, including those living with HIV and AIDS. In 1987, his work led to his expulsion from the Jesuit order.
Chronicling McNeill’s love for the Catholic Church, the LGBT community, his Jesuit brothers, and his partner, “Taking a Chance on God” is a powerful story of faith, love and perseverance in the face of oppression and rejection.
Join the wonderful and tireless gay activist Brendan Fay as guest for Homo Radio show, WPRI 91.5, on Sunday, April 28, from 10 AM to 2 PM! Hosted by Sean McLaughlin and Dr. Ray Werking.
Brendan Fay: Director, Producer, Writer
Dan Messina: Editor, Co Writer
Ilene Cutler: Editor, Producer
Peter Wetzler: Composer