Many Crowns (part two)

Chad Allen‘s newest film, ‘Save Me,’ is another reflection of the actor’s multifaceted faith.

By Blase DiStefano

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Did it really take only 18 days?
May the force be with you: Chad Allen joined Judy Shepard in 2006 for a march with Soulforce to surround the Focus on the Family compound. Allen had met Shepherd a couple of years before that, and they became friends.

No, it took five years. [Both laugh] But 18 shooting days. Hard to believe.

One of the things that was so, so, so important to us was that we set out to make it in such a way that nobody would walk away feeling like they were interpreted as the bad guy—meaning where you’d come to the film and say, “Oh, another film where Christians are the bad guys.” Judith Light gave an extraordinary performance playing the head of the Christian household, running the organization, and we didn’t interpret her as a stupid person or a bad person. We interpreted her—and I hope you see it this way, because it’s the way we saw it—as a loving person who is doing her best and really desperately trying to interpret God’s will as we all are in some ways.

She was superb, and, by the way, I hate you, because you actually worked with Judith Light.
[Laughs] Judith was a personal friend a long time before she was a co-worker, so let me just say that what you read about Judith is the truth about Judith. She’s putting her money where her mouth is. She was standing up for HIV/AIDS causes back when it wasn’t popular. She was standing up for gay and lesbian civil rights long before it was popular, and she has never stopped. The fact that she’s garnered the kind of success that she’s now having is so beautiful, and it could not be happening to a better person or a better actress. 

You’re Italian and were brought up Catholic. I’m Italian and was brought up Catholic also, but it had a pretty bad effect on me. I became an atheist and then an agnostic, but then I finally found my spirituality, my own idea of God. How did it affect you, if at all?

Oh, yeah, of course. “Recovering Catholic” is what we call it around here. And that’s not to demean it, but the unfortunate result of that is that so many of us have been hurt, but I try to be careful [about what I say]. I was just working with a wonderful man who is openly gay and young, and a devout Catholic as well, and he loves his faith. It’s fantastic that we might be approaching a time and place where the kind of hurt you and I may have suffered isn’t quite the same anymore, and that’s exciting to me.

For myself, yeah, I was driven away for a long time, and I went through a myriad of different spiritual experiences and journeys. I have always been a seeker from the time I was a little guy and I touched on everything. You name it and I studied it, practiced it, walked on it, held it, from “God is everything” to “God is nothing” to everything in between.

The beauty of that journey is that it led me to, like you said, a personal understanding of God as I understand God, which is more than I’m willing to get into at the moment. But it is deeply personal, very visceral, and very actual. You know, my space today isn’t based on what you told me, it’s based on what I experienced and what I continue to experience every single day. It contains parts of the stories we all know and parts that are unique to me. To sum it all up, I believe in God as everything—your faith and my faith and their faith, and everything in between. God is expressing himself in every single aspect of creation.

Now, from God on to politics, two things we shouldn’t be discussing.
[Both laugh]

Worth saving: Mark (Chad Allen) and Scott (Robert Gant) get to know each other at Genesis House, a Christian-run ministry that aims to cure gay men of their “brokenness,” in the new film Save Me. Allen co-produced the film with Gant and Judith Light, among others.

What’s your take on Obama and McCain?
Well, Obama is the only candidate that I gave any money to in the primary. I was a huge Hillary fan as well, but when I listened to Obama’s early speeches, for me they were so dynamic and he was so smart, and I really felt a sense of hope from him that maybe we could have something that was different. I love the Clintons and I love everything that Bill Clinton did for us, and I think that Hillary has been an amazing candidate—I admire her courage and her strength. But Obama—I held out hope that he really was all I hoped he would be.

And so far I’m very, very impressed. He’s handled himself extremely well. I really love the kind of things the campaign is doing right now. I think they are presenting a fresh image in terms of presidential politics. I don’t get a lot of the sense of what we wish we had a lot of, what we have in the Democratic Party, of that second-guessing guessing, triple-guessing guessing. He’s putting himself out there in a way that is fresh and new, and it’s inspiring to me. I hope we can ride this wave all the way to the Oval Office, and I intend to support Obama in every single way.
If you had asked me 10 years ago about John McCain, I would have said, “I love McCain. What’s he doing in the Republican Party?” I absolutely have loved John McCain in the past—his willingness to stand up against the stale politics of the old Republican guard and stand up against the way the Republican Party has been mismanaged and manhandled by the Christian Right and big business and big government.

I happen to personally love some of the tenants of the old Republican Party of small government, letting the states manage their own affairs, but that is not the party we have seen in many, many years. Fiscal conservatism—when was the last time we could really choose the Republican Party that was handling itself on the ideal of fiscal conservatism? Astonishing to me.

So I’ve watched John McCain sort of stumble around and take on the personage of a traditional big-spending, big-government Republican, and it’s very disappointing. Even though I don’t want to see John McCain in the Oval Office, I hope that he can find his voice again in the way I’ve seen it in the past for the good of the Republican Party.

What’s the news on you and your boyfriend? Are you husband and husband yet?
[Laughs] No.

Are you going to be getting married?
It’s interesting, because I’m a huge supporter of marriage rights for everybody, but I consider the decision to get married to be a really, really serious one, and I won’t be drawn into taking it lightly for the purpose of politics or any other thing. I will continue to fight as hard as I know how, to make sure Californians can continue to marry and spread that around the country. But my boyfriend and I are boyfriends right now, and we just moved in together not too long ago.

In The Advocate in 2001, you said you had romantic relationships with women. Do you feel there’s a lot of gray area in the gay/straight pendulum?
Yes. To be really, really honest I think that we basically create construct to better understand man, and we try our best to paint them black and white to better understand them. But in terms of human sexuality and the way it expresses itself, I think there is little doubt there’s more gray than there is black or white. I think that is something we would do better to embrace and understand than try to ignore, because it bites you in the ass, and then we struggle to understand why people who profess themselves to be homosexual find themselves in love with a woman or vice-versa.

The fact is, love is love and human sexuality expresses itself in many, many ways. While I find myself for most of my adult life to have been farther on the Kinsey scale than most, in terms of my exclusive homosexuality, I have had relations and great love for women at many times in my life.

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Blase DiStefano

Blase DiStefano is the Creative Director/Entertainment Editor for OutSmart Magazine.

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