I’ve recently been told by a new friend who has been much more in touch with his gay self for quite a bit longer than I have, that it is “cute” and “endearing” how I’m catching up on gay-themed movies that I’ve never seen. Every time I mention a movie, he’s already seen it. It’s slightly frustrating and funny at the same time. Mainly funny for him and frustrating for me. I feel like such a newbie! But we’ve all got to start somewhere, right?
So, what have I seen since coming out (to the extent I have)? Well, the first movie I saw was Shelter, which I liked, partly because I could relate to Zach, the character who was caught in the web of his co-dependent family. Then Brokeback Mountain, which I also liked, but in a different way of course: I could really relate to the years of frustration and forbidden love. And Latter Days, which I liked as well; I don’t think I need elaborate.
Then there was Milk, which opened my eyes to the early years of the gay rights movement. It also reminded me of those days when Anita Bryant was on her broom, campaigning against something that seems to us today as such a simple and fundamental right, i.e., non-discrimination in housing. I recall mentioning to my dad once, in a moment of rare unguarded candor, that I couldn’t see why she was on such a crusade, and why couldn’t she just leave homosexuals alone? When I saw the actual footage of her in Milk, it made me cringe at just how horrible she was.
Then there was Were the World Mine, which I also enjoyed. I’m ashamed to say I had never seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream prior to watching Mine, but I rectified that after seeing this gay fantasy version of Shakespeare’s classic. I have now watched Mine several times, and my appreciation for it grows with each viewing.
Then there was 8: The Mormon Proposition, which really opened my eyes to the true role the Church played in California in 2008. More faithful members of the Church should consider themselves warned, however. It frankly made me feel sick at heart, then angry. I'm due for another viewing of this.
Then Beautiful Thing, a lovely British coming-of-age/coming out movie from 1996 that I thought was very well done. I loved the way it ended.
Then a couple of movies that aren’t worth mentioning, followed by In and Out, another older movie which I had never seen about a Midwestern high school drama teacher who is “outed” by a former student at the Oscars. The teacher is just about to get married (to a woman) and is forced to come to terms with his sexuality. Though the subject is serious, the treatment is light-hearted. I especially liked the scene where he's listening to the tape about how to me a "real" man. I'd watch it again.
Then, Breakfast with Scot. I LOVED this movie. I loved the actors; I liked the way the gay couple at the center of the plot was depicted; I liked the way that young Scot’s issues mirrored those of Eric; and I loved the message of the movie and what it says about gay couples. I actually got my wife to watch it, and one of these days when my boys are ready to watch a gay-themed movie, it’s going to be this one.
Then, recently, I watched Billy Elliot and loved it. It made me feel good. Granted, it’s not gay-themed per se, but might as well be. I found myself both jealous of and happy for young Billy, that he found and pursued his dream at such a young age and that his childhood friend found his gay self as well. I also found poignant the juxtaposition of the youth pursuing their dreams against the older generation that either had no dreams or had somehow lost theirs as they had wended their way through life.
Movies and TV shows currently in my Netflix queue include: Just Say Love, Queer as Folk, Maurice, Prayers for Bobby, Longtime Companion, The Bubble, A Change of Heart and Pedro.
Watching movies of all sorts is something I've embraced since coming out. It's become an important part of both finding my Self and embracing who I am. I’d welcome comments from anyone who has seen any of these movies I've mentioned, as well as suggestions for other gay-themed movies that you recommend. This is not only for my benefit; I know that there are other guys out there, even more closeted than me, who would appreciate the recommendations. I think it should also be said that there are a fair few straight folks who read this blog who might also appreciate your comments about movies that can offer them insights into the “gay world.”