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Out of the Closet, in the ‘End of the Spear’

posted by ellen leventry

Actor Chad Allen and I have two things in common: (1) We share the same birthday, and (2) we both like boys. That’s right, the man chosen to play the dual role of evangelical missionary Nate Saint and his son Steve Saint in the film “End of the Spear,” is gay.

Based on Steve Saint’s book of the same name, “End of the Spear” follows five Christian missionaries who make first contact with the Waodani tribe of Ecuador, a society that is thought to be the “most violent that ever existed.” The missionaries are slain by the tribesmen, but some of their widows and children, including young Steve, go to live in the Waodani village and befriend the tribe, including the men who killed the missionaries. Steve later becomes a successful businessman in the U.S., only to return with his wife and son to live, again, with the Waodani. He and the man who killed his father, Mincayani, become close friends–an inspiring story of acceptance and forgiveness.

As for Chad Allen’s association with the film, Christianity Today reports:

Allen told Christianity Today Movies that he didn’t tell “End of the Spear”‘s filmmakers about his sexuality until after they had offered him the job in late 2003. The filmmakers also say they didn’t know about Allen’s lifestyle until after they offered him a contract, but they felt obliged to honor it even though it had not yet been signed.

The explanation is hard to accept; in Hollywood, even a signed contract isn’t a guarantee that you will end up on screen. Actors get replaced all the time. Just ask Stuart Townsend (“Nightstalker”), who was replaced by Viggo Mortensen in “The Lord of the Rings” after just four days of filming. But perhaps, being Christians, the producers felt they answer to a power higher than Hollywood legalese and that the right thing to do was honor the contract.

But I’d say that Every Tribe Entertainment, producers of the movie, need to hire new casting directors or at least find a production assistant to do a search of Chad Allen’s name on IMDB.com. If they would have done that, they’d have learned that the actor has been featured in The Out Traveler magazine and runs a production company with actor Robert Gant from “Queer as Folk.” Just to be clear here, the “out” in Out Traveler doesn’t mean Outward Bound, and “Queer as Folk” is all about folks who are, well… you get the point. In fact, Steve Saint himself said in an email to Christianity Today Movies, “I could not imagine how something like this could slip through a professional screening process.”

Indeed, Allen is probably the least-closeted celebrity this side of Elton John. Very publically outed in 1996 by “The Globe” tabloid while he was still on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” he has since gone on to pose on the cover of publications such as “The Advocate” and works with charities such as the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which helps elect gay candidates to political office, and a suicide hotline for gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens. In fact, when I first heard that Allen would be starring in an evangelical Christian film my confusion meter went off the scale. But at the same time, would there be a brouhaha if Allen–who was clearly chosen because he was right for the role–was not gay but also not Christian?

Perhaps Allen, who attends All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif., should have been more upfront about his homosexuality before he was offered the role. But, again according to Christianity Today, he did offer to “walk away from this—contract or no contract, even if that means I’m liable for breaking the contract.”

But then, God does work in mysterious ways, according to Steve Saint himself:

[In a dream I was] being chased by a mob of Christians who were angry with me for having desecrated “their story.” The answer to their hostility was easy: Just ask Chad to remove himself. But as quickly as this thought came to me, I found myself standing before God. His look was not as compassionate as I had expected. God said, “Steve, you of all people should know that I love all of my children. With regard to Chad Allen, I went to great lengths to orchestrate an opportunity for him to see what it would be like for him to walk the trail that I marked for him. Why did you mess with my plans for him?”

Saint continues:

Mart [Mart Green, Founder and CEO of Every Tribe Entertainment] has told me that he feels responsible for putting me in a difficult position by hiring Chad…. I don’t think this is Mart’s doing. God planned the death of his own Son. I believe he planned the death of my dad and his four dear friends. Now, I believe God is at work again. I don’t pretend to know what God is going to do with this controversy, but I am confident that he is behind this.

Perhaps God knows that one good story of forgiveness and acceptance should beget another. Or maybe He just knows there’s no such thing as bad publicity.



  • Joey

    Mr(s). Anonymous, don’t be bitter to the Blogwright. Plus, God is big with micromanagement. No real opinion on the controversy; God is probably at work, but I’m at a loss what He’s going for. Overall, that the guy’s gay doesn’t mean much, especially since he also seems to be fairly religious. God bless!>

  • mightymountaingorilla

    Well, what I don’t understand is why this guy’s religion or sexuality has anything to do with whether he can play a part in a film properly. After all, acting is acting. I mean did Heath Ledger have to be gay in order to play a gay character? Or what about Adrien Brody–did he have to be a Holocaust victim to play one in “The Pianist?” And Jim Caviezel: Did he have to be tortured in order to understand his role in “Passion of the Christ”? I mean, all of this is really just moot. An actor is paid to play a role, and if he/she can do it properly, then there shouldn’t be any doubt. Your personal life shouldn’t impact an acting career, especially when your talent is pretending to be someone/something else.>

  • senlin

    I agree that what’s ultimately important is acting ability, but I can kind of see the conservatives’ side. What if Mel Gibson was slated to play a lead role in a movie about an event of significance to Jews? Assuming his acting would be up to par (hehe), that would probably be a pretty controversial casting choice. So I guess the actor’s reputation/background/etc. can come into play when the story being told is deeply meaningful to a specific group.>

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