This honest portrait of a family’s journey of acceptance and love will deepen anyone’s understanding of homosexuality. We watch the Reverend Jane Adams Spahr gradually come to embrace a part of herself that she had disowned for years. We hear from her twin sister, her parents, her husband and her children; and we witness their struggle as the reality of her homosexuality and its implications begins to dawn on them.
Reviewed by Ellen Greenblatt, Auraria Library, University of Colorado at Denver
"'Family values' has been a rallying cry of the political Right throughout the past decade. Here, however, is a video that truly embues this phrase with meaning, and surprisingly, it centers on a lesbian -- the Reverend Jane Spahr, a Presbyterian minister living, at the time, in California. Offering viewers a frank visit with Janie (as she prefers to be called) and her family -- her ex-husband, twin sister, mother, father, and two sons, this video explores the impact of her lesbianism on their lives.
The video opens on a positive note featuring a family fête in which Janie's former husband, Jim, toasts their 30 years together, celebrating themselves as each other's "longest, closest friend." Family members and Janie herself reminisce about her past, her marriage, and her eventual coming out process. Janie confesses that she knew early on that she was different, but kept her feelings to herself. Her secret was revealed to her mother and the rest of the family upon the discovery of a letter. The news shocked Janie's family, especially her sister, Joan, who worried that if the information got out, people might consider her queer as well, because since they were twins, they were often confused. When Janie realized how horribly affected her friends and family were by her revelations, she decided to "split off [her] sexuality and spirituality and [go] toward a life of dualism."
She was relieved when Jim Spahr asked her to marry him. Although she was honest with him about her sexuality, it took them several years to come to terms with it. Ironically, it was Jim who triggered the process that would lead Janie's coming out and their eventual divorce after thirteen years of marriage. Communication, truth, and acceptance were essential to their success in dealing with the situation. They applied the same principles in breaking the news to their sons Jim and Chet, telling them "Mommy and daddy are not together, and people are going to say it's because Mommy is a lesbian, but it's as much because Daddy is heterosexual." Both sons felt well prepared by their parents for dealing with the effect of their mother's lesbianism upon their lives. As son Jim says: "It wasn't like 'Your mom's a lesbian. Here's your lunch. Have a good day at school.' We were told 'Your mom's a lesbian, your dad's heterosexual. This is what it means. Here's something people might say. People may not be nice. Some people may be nice … '" Both Janie and Jim wanted their children to learn that it is important to feel comfortable being themselves and to like themselves for who they are. And as son Jim emphasizes, "We grew up in a household where, no matter what, we were celebrated for who we were. We knew we'd be loved; we knew we'd have a place."
Each of Janie's family members recounts his or her evolution from a position of fear and lack of understanding to one of eventual acceptance and pride. Janie's parents became members of the advocacy group PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Persons) in their home in Sun City, Arizona, and former husband, Jim, served as grand marshal in the Sonoma County (California) gay pride parade. Son Chet reflects, "I feel so good about who she is. I look up to her so much. Her being a lesbian is not the main thing about her. She has to deal people's prejudice so much that it's become more prominent. It's really seeing through to who she really is."
The winner of a 1999 National Educational Media Network Silver Apple Award, this video demonstrates not only good production values but intensely moving and groundbreaking content as well. The willingness of Janie Spahr and her familty to discuss this often taboo subject openly and candidly, makes Your Mom's a Lesbian an excellent resource for helping people deal with a friend's or family member's coming out process. Highly recommended for all types of library collections."
Your Mom’s A Lesbian. Here’s Your Lunch, Have A Good Day at School (1995)
Duration: 27 minutes
Directed by Anne Macksoud
"Your Mom's A Lesbian. Here's Your Lunch. Have A Good Day At School" is part of a three-film series "Family Values?" offering transformative resources for healing and reconciliation in our relationships with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Other films in the series are "Maybe We're Talking About A Different God? Homosexuality and the Church" and "Eve’s Daughters".
- SILVER APPLE AWARD - National Educational Media Network 1999
"Those who consider 'family values' the exclusive ownership of a tradional combo may find their hearts tagged and their prejudices yanked by the story of this irregular family."
— Susan Swartz, The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, CA
— Library Journal