Despite the Vatican making headlines earlier this month when it announced that gay people have "gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community" and that gay relationships foster "cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners," the Church still struggles with how to approach gay people and gay unions.
Take, for example, Freeheld, a film based on the true story of detective Laura Hester, starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page. In the film, the couple seek a domestic partnership, and when Salesian High School, a Catholic all-boys school in New Rochelle, NY, were asked for permission to film a scene there, the school responded with a mixed message.
As BuzzFeed first reported, the school's administration approved the shoot, but then the school's principal later reneged, claiming that it cannot allow for such content to be filmed on school grounds despite his insistence that "all are welcomed at Salesian High School."
In an email response to the school's principal, Freeheld producer Michael Shamberg wrote: "I believe the theme of the movie is what Pope Francis recognized just yesterday when he called for the Church to welcome and accept gay people." Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, he also addressed how the school's rejection proves the need for the film:
"Freeheld captures the inequality and bigotry that one couple faced while coping with cancer and the end of life...That our film was denied access to a location because of the subject matter -- a same-sex couple fighting for their legal rights -- illustrates just how important it is that this story be told."
Though progress on the film was halted until the issue with the school was resolved, Mayor Paul Rosenberg of nearby town Rye Brook, NY, reached out and offered his town's city hall for the scene. "The mayor personally came to the set and greeted us and introduced his teenage daughters to Julianne," Shamberg commented. "Clearly, there are a lot of different attitudes in the area."
Freeheld is an adaptation of the documentary of the same title about Laurel Hester's fight for pension benefits for her partner, Stacie.