Is it possible to be a filmmaker living in Las Cruces and make a statement that is heard across the country and around the world? Prevailing wisdom would say no.
To make a name for oneself, one must live in an industrious cultural center like Los Angeles, Chicago or New York City. Las Cruces filmmaker Ed Breeding is challenging that belief with a 30-minute documentary that has movers and shakers in Washington D.C. sitting up and taking notice.
Originally from Speedwell, Tenn., Breeding has lived in the Mesilla Valley since 2004, when he moved to New Mexico to be closer to the inspirations for his work as a painter: the Native Americans of the great Southwest. Discovering early on that filmmaking could be an extension of his passion for revealing the inner life of his subjects, he began creating a series of short documentaries exploring the philosophy and wisdom of native peoples, many of which have gone on to receive awards at various film festivals across the nation.
Then, in 2012, he listened to a group of friends, including Grammy Award-winning Native American singer/songwriter Yolanda Martinez and Emmy Award-winning Art Director for such films as “My Cousin Vinnie,” “Vanilla Sky” and the hit television series “Glee,” Michael Rizzo. Their message was clear. He had done so many documentaries empowering the native people, why didn’t he turn his attention to the gay experience?
“At first I just said no,” Breeding recalled. “I don’t like the Hollywood version of what it means to be gay. Gays on film are either silly or tragic. Then I started thinking about what I would do if I decided to do a documentary empowering gay people and it was right there in front of my face. I will do a film about what I’ve learned since I’ve lived in New Mexico: That gay men can be extremely powerful, effective people once they accept who they are. Once they get to a point of balance, they are unstoppable.”
From that decision arose the short documentary “Straight Line Curve,” in which Breeding interviewed seven men from New Mexico about what it means to be gay. Then, being the proactive artist that he is, he sat down and Googled every gay organization and publication he could find in the country and sent each of them a copy of his documentary. The resulting interest led to several interviews, articles, screenings and a phone call that was completely unexpected.
“The PFLAG organization in San Diego got hold of it,” he said. “They watched it and called me and said, ‘Ed, we love your positive and uplifting message. Would you consider going to Washington and doing a film on some high-profile African American clergy who are speaking out in defense of LGBT people?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to.’”
Before anybody could question his decision, Breeding packed his bags and spent six days in the nation’s capitol documenting the heartfelt pleas of concerned ministers. Called “Love Heals Homophobia,” this latest documentary has become an answer to the award-winning film “God Loves Uganda,” by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams.
“Roger’s film exposed the ugly side of what’s going on in Africa, mainly with the white fundamentalist ministers from the United States,” Breeding said. “In it, he shows the evangelical groups from this country stirring up hatred and homophobia in third world countries. Our film presents an answer to all that hate, from high-profile African American ministers in the United States. These are very powerful men and women speaking out in defense of the LGBT community. It’s meant as an answer to those who are hurting and suffering, but also as a challenge to the ministers who are still spreading the venom.”
Completed in just three months, “Love Heals Homophobia” is destined for wide exposure. Through the efforts of Lindy Miles, the president of San Diego PFLAG and Albert Ogle, the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, “Love Heals Homophobia” will have its world premiere at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on Friday, Oct. 11. Next stop will be several screenings in San Diego and entry into film festivals around the world.
“We’re really expecting it to go global,” Breeding said. “This film is really for anyone who wants to consider the bigger picture; anybody who wants to think outside the box, whether it’s clergy, family members or gay people themselves. I didn’t say any of it, all I did was capture what these powerful people had to say. It’s a profound and compelling message, through my camera to the world.”