Thursday May 16, 2013
6:45pm - 9:15pm
150 Eureka St, San Francisco
A special ManyLights event!
Join us for a unique Many Lights experience where we will view a film, The Sessions, together. After the film we will hear some reflections from a sex surrogate and a Roman Catholic priest, and discuss our own reactions to this thought provoking film.
In our queer spiritual community, we believe that all bodies are sacred and our sexuality is a gift. But most of us have struggled from time to time to really hold on to those truths. In this extraordinary film, we see and hear the story of one man who had huge physical challenges standing in the way of his ability to feel whole, as a spiritual, sexual, gifted human being. But he finds a way.
About the film:
THE SESSIONS, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and a host of rave reviews, is, as New York magazine's David Edelstein put it, "a sexual coming-of-age movie"—one in which any audience member can recognize their own carnal hang-ups and triumphs. What's more extraordinary, though, is that it accomplishes that while telling a true-life tale of an extreme circumstance: a paralyzed man losing his virginity.
It's based on the true story of the severely disabled journalist and poet, Mark O'Brien, a survivor of childhood polio using an iron lung and mobile wheelchair-gurney, who in his late 30s saw a sex-surrogate therapist in order to lose his virginity. John Hawkes plays Mark, and Helen Hunt is shrewdly cast as Cheryl, the miraculously sensible and calm therapist. William H Macy is Mark's Catholic priest and confessor, who listens to and supports Mark throughout the process.
How does the director, Ben Lewin, who has the same disability as the subject of his film, manage to make this very-specific material deeply universal? By working to make his protagonist come across as a real, fleshed-out person. His disabled man worries about and obsesses over sex in the same way we all do. His body frustrates him, and his feelings are familiar to anyone who's ever found what they mentally desire to be physically unattainable.
About our speakers:
Fr. Donal Godfrey, S.J., Associate Director for Faculty/Staff Spirituality at USF.
Fr. Donal Godfrey, S.J. was born in Liverpool, England. Donal was educated at Stonyhurst College and at University College, Cork. He is a member of the Irish Bar, and a Jesuit priest of the Irish province of the Society of Jesus. Donal holds degrees in philosophy from the Milltown Institute of Dublin, a Master’s in theology from Regis College at the University of Toronto, a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, and a Doctorate in Ministry from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA. He is the author of the book, Gays and Grays: The Story of the Gay Community at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church (Lexington, 2007). Prior to coming to USF, Donal worked at Clongowes Wood College, Ireland, the Jesuit Centre of Spirituality in Belfast for reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants, and in ministry at Loyola University, Chicago. Donal's areas of responsibility currently include working with alumni, the USF Law School, promoting Ignatian spirituality, working with the LGBTQ community, spiritual direction, and pastoral counseling.
Linda Poelzl has been active since 1990 as a sex educator - coaching, speaking, writing and counseling women, men, transgender people, couples and groups in a wide variety of topics related to human sexuality. In 1996 she began her work as a professional surrogate partner, seeing clients referred to her by psychotherapists for help with sexual inexperience, body image, sexual orientation and sexual concerns of all kinds. She is certified in sex education, clinical sexology and sexological bodywork through the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. Linda also brought her 25 years of hands-on experience as a massage therapist and teacher to her work as a surrogate partner. A deeply-spiritual person, Linda found her way back to the Catholic Church in 2007 and she is an active and enthusiastic member of Most Holy Redeemer Parish in the Castro. She sees no problem integrating her spiritual beliefs and practices with her professional work as a surrogate partner.