Saturday, March 26, 2011
Gay cinema: My favorite movies...
As a closeted gay man, I had little opportunity to relate to the gay world in any meaningful way. In fact, much of my emotional energy was spent ensuring that my public connection with homosexuality remained seemingly nonexistent. The entire experience, as I've blogged before, was emotionally and spiritually devastating.
The one source of relief during the last ten years of my "heterosexual" life was gay cinema--not pornography, mind you, but films that were made to actually tell a story and move the viewer.
Interestingly, I saw my first gay-themed movie when I was young. I was in Amsterdam on business and had some time to kill. I walked past a theater and saw a billboard of two young and beautiful men holding each other tenderly. The movie was Maurice, an Ivory/Merchant film based on the EM Forster novel by the same name. I was immediately captivated, entered the theater and watched the movie three times.
Through the last years of my marriage I collected nearly every gay-themed movie I could find. Some of them are beautiful visually and emotionally like Brokeback Mountain and Maurice, and some are so inane that even typing their names on this blog is a waste of effort.
All in all, however, these movies served as a window into the world in which I wanted more than anything else to escape. They gave me hope that it might just be possible to one day find myself free from the bonds with which I was bound. They taught me that being gay is good and noble and that I had nothing to fear about swinging wide the closet door.
Because many readers of this blog appreciate and find value in gay cinema, I thought it helpful to provide you a summary of those movies that I have most appreciated. While I'm sure you have probably all seen my favorites, one or two might be new to you and worth your time.
Today, I will share with you the five gay-themed films that I found particularly enjoyable.
Brokeback Mountain. This movie was the story of the direction my life might have taken had I remained in Wyoming as a boy. Although BBM was actually filmed in Alberta, the mountains and prairies, the towns and people, evoked a vivid reminder of the place where I spent some of my happiest moments of my childhood and youth. To me this is no mere movie, but an actual glimpse into a world that might have been. Ennis and Jack aren't mere characters in a movie, their the guys I grew up with. As a result, I still can't watch BBM without being moved at the deepest level.
Latter-days. I love this movie simply because it is about a gay Mormon missionary. My "best two years" was one of the most difficult times of my life. I identified with Aaron at every turn. The truth is that had I had a neighbor like Christian, I probably would have made the same decisions Aaron made. Speaking of Aaron, Steve Sandvoss may not be the best actor in the world, but in this movie he is appealing. Between his humble, shy, devoted demeanor and his amazing backside, he's worth watching regardless of his acting ability (or lack thereof).
Get Real. There is something about watching a high school hotty falling for a school newspaper nerd that I find very appealing. This British made for TV film is surprisingly well acted with an interesting, though at times contrived, story line. While the hotty is definitely a hotty and the nerd more than a little nerdy, they actually create chemistry that makes you feel good about them and their relationship. Admittedly, the whole issue of coming out was not handled in the most realistic manner; it gave me tremendous pause about my own life of duplicity.