Macky is a documentary filmmaker and senior director of Auburn Media, a program at Auburn Seminary that helps faith leaders committed to justice speak out powerfully in the media. He is a descendant of three generations of Presbyterian ministers who were all committed to justice in different eras in the American south. He is a gay dad and husband in New York.
How has your personal journey to be who you are and respond to God’s call strengthened or challenged your faith?
When I have dared to follow God’s lead, it has never been easy, but life, beauty, revelation, and joy have been the reward.
Documentary filmmaking is all about exploration, wandering into the unknown. It is the ultimate faithwalk. You get an idea, raise some money, hire a crew, and go off in search of a movie that you cannot manufacture. It reveals itself to you over time. You follow it, find it.
Life has been like that for me. Believing that I am loved by God “just as I am” as a gay man, in spite of the teachings of my church; having faith that I could find love and survive as a gay man who came of age in the age of AIDS; pursuing marriage to the man I love before it was legal and then riding the wave of changing legislation, changing history; pursuing the adoption of my daughters in conservative states like Pennsylvania and Arizona – it has all been such a faithwalk.
It is impossible to describe the intimacy with God that has come from taking the risks – emotional, political, professional, relational risks – that I believe God has called me to take. I cannot imagine the life I would have led if I had refused to risk, to follow what I sensed to be God’s call. I shudder to think.
Is there a prayer or meditation that helps you make it through trying times?
Where are you going?
(Where are you going?)
Can you take me with you?
For my hand is cold
And needs warmth
Where are you going?
Far beyond where the horizon lies, where the horizon lies
And the land sinks into mellow blueness
Oh please, take me with you
Let me skip the road with you
I can dare myself
(I can dare myself)
I’ll put a pebble in my shoe
And watch me walk (watch me walk)
I can walk and walk!
(I can walk!)
I shall call the pebble Dare, I shall call the pebble Dare
We will talk, we will talk together about walking
Dare shall be carried
And when we both have had enough
I will take him from my shoe, singing:
“Meet your new road!”
Then I’ll take your hand
Finally glad, Finally glad
That you are here
By my side
Life requires such courage. It’s amazing to me the courage we muster. Where does it come from?
Do you have a story of a person who embodies Christ’s teachings?
Recently, something my dad did took my breath away. I hesitate telling the story. It feels sacred.
My parents were visiting my New York City apartment. We were just hanging out gabbing, when we heard a cry from out of our second-story window. A couple was fighting, a young transsexual prostitute and her john. He hit her, yelled some nasty epithets, and she shouted back to leave her alone. My husband and I were calling out the window, offering to call the police. The transsexual woman thanked us, but declined. The guy split. The woman seemed to dust herself off and prepare to go on her way.
I turned around to resume my conversation with my parents and my father seemed to have stepped out of the room. In minutes, he entered the apartment with the woman who had been hit, her forehead bloody, her blood boiling, and her heart, she said, broken. She couldn’t believe that she had let herself fall for such an abusive guy.
My father calmed the woman, we cleaned her cut, hung out for awhile, and then my parents offered to take her where she needed to go.
For some, what my dad did might be an everyday act. For my father, a Brooks Brothers type, a political liberal but a pretty proper guy, it was an extraordinary one. His life and experience could not be more different, at least on the surface, from the woman to whom he reached out. Her willingness to trust him and his willingness to offer help to her made loving neighbors of us, if just for that moment.
I cannot overestimate the power of what my parents have modeled for me – their faith, their courage, fighting for civil rights in Alabama when I was born and for my equality in the course of my coming out. Their love has been constant, in spite of all the ways the risks I have taken have challenged them. Words fail.
In your mind, what are the Biblical foundations for LGBT inclusion in the church?
When a person asked Jesus what scripture and tradition all boils down to, he said, “Love God and love your neighbor.” He didn’t say “love some neighbors.” He said, “Love all.” So that’s it. Everything else is secondary.
I also hold fast to Galatians 3:28: that in Christ Jesus, there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free – we are all one. The ways that throughout the ages we have used the bible to divide and oppress is the very problem Jesus came to liberate us from, and he regularly stood with those who society scorned, lifting up “the last” as those who we most need to heed.
Another thing, alongside Jesus’ teaching, that has convinced me that being gay is a gift from God and a place where God teaches me about God’s unending love is my husband, Nick Gottlieb (a secular Jew, I love the irony that his last name means “God’s love” in German). In the 20 years we have been together, I have come to know through him – his love and our wrestling through life together – how challenging, merciful, extravagant and profoundly pleasurable love can be.
What would you say to those Christians who have a different view on inclusion?
I have in my head now this line from our most recent film, Love Free or Die. In the middle of a sermon, just before a man interrupts him with shouts to repent, Bishop Gene Robinson says, “The opposite of love is not hate, but fear.”
God requires us to love one another, even our enemies, and love requires that all are included. In that space, God’s will is done; God’s kingdom comes. This challenges me to audit my own prejudices; to consider who I am excluding, just as I work to create a society that does not exclude me and my family.
What can we do to foster dialogue and build bridges with people with different views on inclusion?
Even if they don’t always want to, I believe that people are dying to talk, especially with people on the other side of the issues we care about. I know that first hand as a documentary filmmaker. Even when they know you do not agree, people want to be heard, to connect, and to understand better the other. W. H. Auden said, “We must love one another or die.” I really think it’s true and that we know it in our gut. Rancor unsettles us until our dying day. Forgiveness. Mercy. Reunion. Acceptance. These are the only ways to peace in our personal lives and in political life.
To win LGBT equality, we must be in deep relationship with those who judge us – that is the only way they will be transformed. I have seen it first hand in my own family. The kicker though, as Walter Brueggeman says, is that “when we go up into that other valley, the valley where people do not think like we do, we must be prepared not only to change the folk who live over there, but to be changed by them.” It’s a risky business, this life God calls us to, but this is where the life is.