'Arthur' Gay Wedding Episode Gets An Alabama Screening Thanks To A Methodist Church And LGBTQ Film Festival

Reaching out to an audience with a positive message about gay marriage isn't hard when you've got an Alabama Methodist church and an LGBTQ film festival playing their part.

Following the Alabama Public Television's refusal to air an episode of the beloved children's program Arthur that featured a gay wedding of a major character, the First United Methodist Church of Birmingham is hosting a wedding-themed screening of the episode. The church teamed up with the Sidewalk Film Festival and Shout LGBTQ Film Festival for a free, all-ages event that will be held next week.

Arthur made history on May 13, 2019, when it aired the episode "Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone," which revealed that Arthur's stern teacher was embarking on a same-sex marriage. The celebratory episode made waves across the nation — except in Alabama, where Alabama Public Television aired a rerun instead. APT's director of programming, Mike Mckenzie, cited a "violation of trust" but didn't explicitly say that the gay wedding was the reason that they refused to air the episode — however it was eerily similar to the response they offered in 2005 when the APT refused to air an episode of Arthur in which Arthur's friend Buster visits a girl with two mothers.

But now, First United Methodist Church of Birmingham is partnering with the Sidewalk Film Festival and Shout LGBTQ Film Festival to screen the episode on Saturday, June 15, 2019 in a wedding-themed event that will include "wedding cake, sparkling apple juice and surprises." The event, which the church announced with a Facebook event page, won't be the first time the episode has screened in Alabama — a local LGBTQ youth center screened the new episode last week. But the significance of a Methodist church holding this event shouldn't be dismissed, it's a sign of incredible acceptance that the First United's senior pastor, the Rev. Stephanie Arnold, emphasized, telling church members, "we want to extend God's love and grace for all people."

As a long-running children's show on PBS and one of the last popular public television shows, it's great to see Arthur making use of its powerful platform. I grew up watching Arthur, having no cable until I was in college, and it was an enormous influence on me — pushing me to get a library card, teaching me about The Odyssey, and learning the benefits of a savage comeback. The more kids that are exposed to Arthur's historic gay wedding episode and its teachings of acceptance, the better.