Reviewed by Me’Chele Sevanesian: When becoming a parent I believe that sometimes the idea of unconditional love becomes somewhat lost when families with extremist religions or political beliefs project their beliefs onto their children.
Daniel Karslakes documentary “They Know Not What They Do” explores this through a religious lens of extremist evangelical parents who lose themselves after finding out their children are LGBTQ+. In the area of originality the film doesn’t have much because, since the legalization of Gay marriage, the exploration of the plight of the LGBTQ+ community has been something many filmmakers and documentary makers have brought to light. But what is riveting about the documentary is its ability to hold your attention and take you on the life-changing journey with the families.
The film features four families of faith Rob & Linda Robertson, who were encouraged by their evangelical church family to put their son, Ryan, in conversion therapy; a decision that ultimately has severe repercussions. It is a difficult journey for them since their church sees homosexuality as an aberration of the devil. Watching the parents attempt to find a solution is heart-wrenching and even more devasting is their son’s mental torment.
David & Sally McBride, life-long Presbyterians who were shocked when their youngest boy came out to them as a transgender woman. A difficult journey for all but the resilience of the family’s will is triumphant. Victor Baez & Annette Febo, whose Catholic tradition and Puerto Rican upbringing greatly concerned for their gay son. With this family, we see the power of love and total acceptance.
Harold & Coleen Porcher, a mixed-race couple whose child endured self-harm before their parents’ acceptance enabled them to come to terms with their gender. The father’s struggle to work through his issues to give love and utter acceptance for his child is truly heartwarming.
All these stories will take you an emotional roller coaster ride and yes you will want to have your box of tissue handy. But you will come away recognizing the power of love and forgiveness and the fragility of all our lives.
However, this film does make me think of the concept of “blind faith.”
In the original text of the bible, the word “homosexual” never existed. In fact, the original word “pedophile” because there were acts of pedophilia in Ancient Greece during the time in which the bible was being written and in an attempt to prevent pedophilia from making its way into Christianity, the writers wrote pedophile. But now too much of modern-day American based Puritanism is reliant on the word being homosexual. Moreover, when I watch this film I think of how different these children’s lives would be if the world was never changed… Something to think about for sure. I gave this film a 7/10 only because it wasn’t the most original documentary on the topic I had seen. However, I do believe that watching this one if you’ve never seen a documentary in the relationship between Religion and LGBTQ+ it is a definite yes for your watch list.
FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO will take you on a journey of understanding what connects us all and gives us the courage to embrace each other. And in the end to realize the importance of love and forgiveness in our very brief human lives.
“For They Know Not What They Do” is available via virtual cinemas.