Family Fundamentals – Profiles

Who’s in the film…

Kathleen, Susan, and David

Susan Jester is the lesbian daughter of Kathleen Bremner, a Pentecostal church leader in San Diego, California. Kathleen started the San Diego Spatula Ministries as a reaction to Susan’s coming out in 1984 and has since conducted monthly support group meetings for parents with children who have “become homosexual.” For the past 15 years, Kathleen has also organized the San Diego Christian Trauma and Sexuality Conferences in collaboration with groups such as Exodus and Focus on the Family to advocate reparative therapy for homosexuality.

Susan, on the other hand, took up the gay civil rights movement, but only after marrying twice — once to a missionary. She confesses: “I gave it the ol’ college try!” After divorcing her second husband, Susan finally came out at age thirty-nine and was crowned Miss Gay San Diego of 1984. To complicate matters, Susan has a gay son, David Jester, who during the course of filmming, realizes that his love for his grandmother is undermined by her outspoken contempt for his “lifestyle.” David is joined by his longtime partner, Guy Foti, who doesn’t understand why Kathleen can’t accept him, his two sons from a previous marriage, and David as a family: “Maybe God is trying to tell her something and she’s just not listening.”


Brett Mathews is the son of a Mormon Bishop in the rural town of Erda, Utah. He was also a member of the U.S. Air Force, patriotically serving as First Lieutenant and nuclear missileer from 1996-1998. However, due to the military’s policies on gay servicemembers, Brett was ousted after a grueling 16-month investigation. Although he finally received an honorable discharge, Brett lost his top secret security clearance and was stripped of all veteran’s benefits.

When Brett came out as gay to his family in 1999, their relationship became estranged. Since then, Brett’s family has sent a steady stream of letters encouraging him to change his “condition.” Angry at their response, Brett ignores their pleas although he knows that his father’s duty is to judge and punish any church member who is homosexual, including family; as a Bishop, Brett’s father is the common judge and presiding high priest of his ward. Brett is a direct descendent of the original Mormon settlers of the Tooele County, Utah region in the 1850s and his family has since maintained a leadership role in the community.

Brett joined the Board of Directors of PFLAG-LA (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Los Angeles). Through their Speakers Bureau he gives public talks about his experiences and coming out.


From 1977 to 1989, Brian Bennett served as chief of staff, campaign manager, and legislative aide to former U.S. Congressman Bob Dornan (R-California), one of America’s most strident opponents of gay rights. Brian also lived with the Dornan family for six years and was considered one of the family. In fact, Brian called Dornan by the family nickname, “Poppy”; it was common knowledge that aside from their professional relationship, they shared a father-and-son bond as well as a strict Catholic upbringing. That is, until Brian publicly came out as gay in 1997.

Brian’s relationship with Dornan, both touching and volatile, reveals a complicated story that questions the very notion of family and loyalty . It also explores the discrepancies between private thought and political doctrine as Brian contextualizes Dornan’s public tirades against homosexuality. Brian’s role as an active and openly gay Republican further challenges the tenet that all gay and lesbian people are monolithic in liberal political allegiances. A pinnacle in Brian’s political career was his appointment to the 2001 Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition Team.