RIFF Movies Archive


United States, 2005, Digital Video - Color - 78

Kirk Marcolina & Larry Grimaldi

Kirk Marcolina, Larry Grimaldi, Doug Ross, Greg Stewart, Kathleen French, Dean Minerd, Tom Miller



They act like happy-go-lucky kids, wondering which jeans to put on and what music to download... but these teens are grappling with a bigger question: how can they be gay and Christian? The stakes are set from the very beginning when a camper asks, “What if we are wrong... and we all are going to hell?”These kids are outsiders – their straight classmates ostracize them and their churches reject them. But like all teens, they yearn to feel at home, somewhere...CAMP OUT is a feature documentary film that follows ten Mid-Western teenagers as they attend the first overnight Bible Camp for gay Christian youths. For these six boys and four girls, it’s just as hard to come out as Christian as it is to come out as gay. They’re caught in the battle between religion, politics and sexuality that’s raging in the U.S. today. The kids who attend this camp have refused to turn their backs on God and instead are struggling to find a way to be true to both their spirituality and their sexual identity.CAMP OUT showcases these brave kids by inter-cutting intimate cinema-verité scenes with candid interviews. The teens narrate their journeys as they struggle to find acceptance in a religion that preaches that their sexuality is sinful. This film tackles the question of why, in spite of the homophobia of many Christian churches, these kids long to be a part of the Christian faith.

At first glance, “Camp Out” is a coming out story with a twist. We’ve seen characters come out as gay but what’s it like to come out as Christian? After all, coming out as Christian these days, especially in the gay community, takes an incredible amount of bravery. When we first started out on this adventure, “Camp Out” was going to be a slice of life film with light political and religious undertones. Soon, it became clear that this simple film was a lot more than a documentary about growing up gay and Christian; it became a reflection in courage.Webster’s defines courage as “the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.” How many of us can say we live our lives courageously? The ten teenagers who attended The Naming Project Camp at Bay Lake can. No matter where they stand on the gay or Christian scales, no matter how much their families and friends love and support them, they still have a tremendous weight on their shoulders and they worry about things straight teenagers don’t have to contend with. The average high schooler should be concerned about what jeans to put on, what music to download and which movies to see, not being discriminated against, growing old alone and going to hell. Despite it all, they walk through life head on without deflecting from a course of higher self-awareness, community involvement and spiritual fulfillment.While prepping this film, during our pre-interview, the kids were full of amazing insights. They seemed so much smarter and self-aware then we were at their age. But when we got to camp, we saw they were just kids who wanted to fit in and feel accepted. These campers were average happy-go-lucky teenagers who were learning about their bodies, developing crushes and trying to figure out who they were and what they wanted to be in this world. They were real. Not hiding, but still sorting things out... and answering questions about spirituality that most adults don’t even contemplate. But they were also lonely and they worried a lot. At camp, they got to experience a place where they weren’t alone... a place where they were fully accepted.Perhaps it’s because we were both born gay and Catholic that we were drawn to this issue. We’ve witnessed the struggle of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community to find a spiritual home in places that deny and hate them. We’ve seen the exodus of our community away from the churches, temples and synagogues that we grew up in. We watch as the number of kids who commit suicide because God won’t love them grows to unacceptable proportions. One thing’s for sure -- we want gay teenagers to have what we didn’t, an adolescence free to date who they want and explore who they are. We want GLBT youth to be happy and adjusted teens that will grow into happy and adjusted adults.Our hope is that this film will be accessible to anyone who yearns for a deeper understanding of humanity and spirituality. After viewing “Camp Out,” we hope audiences will have a better understanding of the struggle teenagers face trying to find their place in the world, as they grow up gay and Christian.




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