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CoastLine: Mama Bears doc explores how a group of Christian women support their LGBTQ kids despite church condemnation

Mama Bears film / Daresha Kyi
The documentary film, Mama Bears, about Christian women who choose to support their LGBTQ children despite church condemnation, comes to Jengo's Playhouse in Wilmington, NC Friday, March 24, 2023.

Gay or trans kids are at infinitely higher risk of harm if rejected by the adults around them.  In ultra-conservative churches that condemn LGBTQ+ identities, parents often have to decide between their child and their church community.  But a group of women that call themselves the Mama Bears is seeking to change that.  Filmmaker Daresha Kyi joined us to talk about the power of Mama Bear love.

There are plenty of gay-friendly churches around the world, but as recently as 2015, Pew Research Center reported that most major religious institutions opposed same-sex marriage.

It was the same year, 2015, that the Supreme Court legalized gay unions.

By 2019, Pope Francis had expressed his support for gay marriage – despite Pew Research Center’s findings that 39% of American Catholics still opposed the idea.

By 2023, a gay rights schism divided the United Methodist Church. But there are nuances within individual churches. Official church positions may not always represent those of its congregation.

So what happens in an ultra-conservative church when one of its faithful finds out she’s raising a gay or transgender child? Especially when her own church community still condemns it?

Self-harm and suicide rates for kids who identify as LGBTQ are far higher than for straight, cis-gender children. Gay or trans kids are also far more likely to be a victim of violent crime. According to The Trevor Project, having at least one adult who accepts a child for who they are can reduce their risk of suicide by 40%.

So in 2007, one Christian mother decided to defy her church and support her gay son. Liz Dyer’s decision came with risks. Would she lose her family? Her community?

She pressed on with her acceptance and started a group called Mama Bears – in the hopes of making the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for all LGBTQ people.

The story captivated documentary filmmaker Daresha Kyi: how could Christian parents maintain their faith in the face of church rejection of their queer children?

Emmy Award winner Daresha Kyi earned her degree from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has worked as an actor, reporter, and independent filmmaker. She and her Mama Bears film team are traveling on the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers and she joined us from WYSO Public Radio near Dayton, Ohio.

To see the film:

The documentary film Mama Bears comes to Jengo’s Playhouse Friday, Mar 24, 2023 at 7:30 PM.  

To learn more about the Mama Bears film and team:


To learn more about the Mama Bears organization:


LGBTQ Resources:

LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast:


LGBTQIA Resource Guide - UNCW: 


The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.