For the past few years, lesbian ministers Han Nguyen and Ceil Melton have been on a spiritual journey, looking for a church that reflects Melton's evangelical roots. The journey included them being rejected by an Austin, Texas, Pentecostal church, followed by them pulling the ultimate "punk" on a megachurch: The couple, together for 16 years, posed as a heterosexual couple and documented the experience in their film Faith of the Abomination, which premieres at the Loft at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 16. For more information, visit faithoftheabomination.blogspot.com or www.loftcinema.com/node/1443.
How were you raised?
Melton: I grew up in an evangelical organization. My father was a minister. Of course, I heard all my life that gays and lesbians are an abomination, and that God didn't create them, and God doesn't make mistakes. ... I went into the music business. For 26 years, I stayed away, but my heart has always been with the church.
Did you still feel part of the church?
Melton: Yes, I went back into the church, but not the evangelical one, to the MCC—the Metropolitan Community Church. But I still felt that desire. I couldn't understand why we couldn't all worship together. ... I know these evangelical preachers and ministers are not going to come and worship with us ... so we decided to take a step out of our comfort zones, and we started attending a mainstream Pentecostal church.
They knew you were lesbians.
Nguyen: Yeah. We met with the pastor as soon as we could. ... We told him we were ministers who were created lesbians. "Do you have an issue with us being in your church?" ... "Oh, no, no, no. You're welcome here." Their motto was, "A church for all of Austin." ... We told him we were very interested in being ministers in this church. Well, that really caused a problem. ... He said he'd have to talk to his board and his leaders.
Did he ever get back to you?
Nguyen: On one Sunday...from the pulpit, he told us, he looked directly at us, but he didn't call us by name. He said that if we wanted to be active in the church, to serve in the ministry, that we would have to come down to the altar and repent in front of everyone, and then God would change our DNA. So we knew that that was over.
What did you do after you left this church?
Nguyen: After that, we spent some time thinking about what was happening to us, and why we felt compelled to go to this church and leave our own home church. ... So as we were dealing with that whole process—this is months down the line—Ceil had an ingenious idea.
Melton: I thought, you know what? I have the same minister's credentials, but what if I change this outside package, and become just as fake as I know I can be? They loved us.
But you didn't go back to the last church?
Melton: No, no, a cross-town church, but a bigger church, a megachurch.
Han stayed a woman, but you (Ceil) became a man. How did you transform yourself?
Melton: We tried everything, everything. It was terrible—the binding and the facial hair. I had a soul patch ... and we decided that I should go in with male pattern baldness. There would be no questions, and it worked. Of course, I gained about 25 pounds. And I had to practice lower octaves, but I'm an old vocalist. It worked.
What started bothering you about the church?
Melton: No. 1, that organization gives more credit, more praise, to male ministers. Man, I got treated like a king. ... She had to play her part: the little woman.
Nguyen: And that sucked. We had to sit through their six-week marriage series. Just for the record, the woman is spiritually beneath her husband, and that's the way God designed it.
Didn't you expect to be rejected when you first set off to the Pentecostal church?
Melton: But it had been 26 years since I'd been in there, and I wanted to see if it had changed.
Nguyen: We also believed that if we had personal contact, it could change.
Aren't those pastors the real abominations?
Melton: Yeah, that's what I'd call a real abomination. How you can teach hate and connect it with God is totally beyond me.