John Lapré’s silence lasts fourteen full seconds. He just shook his head at images of a strict Reformed pastor explaining his church’s view of homosexuality. Then he falls silent. Finally, he says: “I believe if I had taken my own life then, they would have said, It wasn’t because of us.”
Lapré (35) is still there, as is the church where he was expelled once he came out for his sexual orientation. Ten years ago he even went to therapy to be ‘cured’ of his homosexuality. That “didn’t work” he now says with a small twinkle, but if he does the number Father to Son hears that played a role in the therapy, he involuntarily puts a hand over his mouth. Those kinds of moments are characteristic of the Monday broadcast by the EO documentary Heaven, hell and rainbow: a groping film about a brave man who sometimes doesn’t seem quite sure whether his wounds are already scarred.
Also read the interview with John Lapre: John Lapré came out and was expelled from church: ‘I now dare to call it pure treason’
Lapré, who was extensively portrayed in NRC last week, is now committed to young gay men who struggle with their faith and the church, in addition to his work in the navy. Director Noud Holtman likes to let the images speak for themselves. When Lapré is walking through his hometown of Genemuiden with two friends, they seem to have ended up in the Open Overijssels Championship. “I know them all,” says Lapré with regret.
On a visit to his old school – for the first time in eighteen years – he meets two benevolent former teachers who want to hear from him how they can deal with other orientations “openly and respectfully”. They’ve already figured out that when it comes to sexual orientation, they shouldn’t start with the school’s stance on what is sinful.
To Lapré’s surprise, one of the teachers, when asked if a man in a relationship with another man goes to heaven, says: “Who am I to doubt that?” Unfortunately, he immediately adds that he wouldn’t be so quick to judge a miser, for example. “Am I in that list?” asks Lampré, bewildered.
That you don’t have to call the bible to have a hard time accepting your sexuality, turned out an hour later – it was Monday coming out day – in the short documentary To bi or not to bi (BNNVARA), in which 28-year-old Bastiaan Rosman talked about the difficulty he has in coming out as a bisexual. Time and again he is told that he is “actually gay” or that his bisexuality is a phase. Bisexual women reported that their relationships with women were interpreted as a temporary thirst for adventure. It is precisely in the LGBTI community that there is discomfort in dealing with this box that is not a box, it was said.
Rosman’s story contained elements that could give you the idea that this was generation-related (or age-related) discomfort. For example, he found it especially difficult to present himself as bi online, for fear of unfeeling reactions. In real life things went a lot smoother.
The conversations with his mother were beautiful, who showed no sign of homophobia, but was confused because her son has only come home with boys since he was bi. How was that? She had counted on a more or less equal representation of the sexes in her son’s partners. Rosman explains that those things don’t have to be fifty-fifty. He adds: “It’s good that we’re having this conversation, because you really didn’t understand it!” Not a bad motto at all coming out day to decide with.