Camilo Nazar, a film student at Pacific Union College, wants to give queer people of color something that he never had growing up: the gift of representation. In the latest installment of the “Outspoken” documentary series, Nazar tells the story of his growing up Adventist in Monterrey, Mexico, and discusses his student project, “Thou Shall Not,” in which Nazar stars alongside Zachariah Mohammed.
"Outspoken" is a ten-part series of short documentaries that features stories of LGBT+ people with ties to the Adventist Church, produced by husband and wife team Daneen Akers and Stephen Eyer, intended "to highlight stories of people who are giving back, showing up, and creating." In the installment released last week, Nazar discussed his upbringing in Mexico, his coming out, and what he is working to accomplish as a student on an Adventist college campus.
Nazar was in his late teens when he accepted that he was queer. “I think I finally gave up on the idea that I was heterosexual when I was maybe 19 years old,” he said in the Outspoken episode. For a young churchgoing Seventh-day Adventist, the realization hit hard: “Oh my gosh. . . I am this abomination that people keep talking about and keep preaching about in church. That’s me. I think there’s something wrong with me,” he remembered thinking.
His parents took him to see movies when he was young—something uncommon for an Adventist family in Monterrey (“It was just like, you were a sinner if you went to a movie theater,” he said). Nazar didn’t feel represented in the stories he saw, both because of his skin color and his sexuality. But to be a queer person with brown skin didn’t just mean being different, it also meant closer proximity to early mortality.
Two queer people Nazar knew and went to school with died by the time he started college, one by suicide and the other the victim of a hate crime.
Nazar resolved to use film and television to tell neglected and marginalized stories.
In “Thou Shall Not,” a television series he wrote and directed, Nazar plays a young queer man who falls in love with his best friend, a pastor’s son, played by Mohammed.
“I was always a bit iffy about…‘Can I write this as my project?’ ‘Is it something acceptable for this school?’” he said of the project.
Nazar is also president of Gay And Straight People (GASP), Pacific Union College’s unofficial Queer-Straight alliance. In the “Outspoken” film, Nazar expressed his longing for PUC to treat its LGBT+ students not as a potential financial liability or a “PR mess”; rather, his wants to see “Pacific Union College setting up the conversation so that every student feels welcome.” He called GASP’s being unofficial another form of being in the closet. “That’s not a place where we want to be anymore,” he said.
WATCH: Camilo - Outspoken
Jared Wright is Southern California Correspondent for Spectrummagazine.org.
Image Credit: Video still.
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