The other night, Partner and I were on the couch, and as usual there was nothing on TV. I don't know if this is a just a French thing, but after a while, French television....just sucks. We were looking around the stations, and we hit the northern reaches of our viewing, Mangas and they were showing of nothing of interest. So I was about to give up when I though, why not try Pink TV.
Pink TV is the gay station here. Now, before you get all excited and think that you're going to get to see RuPaul's Drag Race or Beautiful People. The channel is only on for two hours. It comes on at 10 pm, and usually it runs this English series, Metrosexuality. There's a lot of it I don't understand and it generally scares the crap out of me. Oh, and also, it switches over to gay porn at midnight, an then it's 12 euros for access. They show you all the previews of what's coming on, and then make you pay to actually watch it. So I wasn't expecting much.
I was pleasantly surprised though. As it turns out, they were showing Contracorriente. It was a movie I had heard about a while ago, and it was absolutely beautiful. I really enjoyed it, but assumed that I'd need to record it. Normally Partner is not one for the gay movies. I asked him though if he wanted to keep watching, and surprisingly, he said yes. We kept watching.
I actually really enjoyed it, but I'm a soft sell. You put two gay guys in a film and nine times out of ten I'll watch. Promise me skin, and I'll most likely recommend it to all my friends. I was a big time fan of Latter Days and I absolutely loved Brokeback Mountain. Like I said though, I'm a soft sell. It hit midnight, and the TV cut out. At that point, we pulled ourselves off the couch and went outside to clear our heads a bit. As we were waking up a bit, I asked him what he thought of it. He said that he liked it.
After recovering from my initial shock, I asked him what he liked about it. He liked the story because everything wasn't wrapped up neatly. Most gay movies always progress in the same way. Two guys meet, usually at a bar. There's one character who is more out than the other, usually because of his family, but sometimes because of his own insecurities or religious obligations. They build a relationship over the course of the movie and the less out/or closeted guy has to make a choice: be honest with himself and the world and come out or stay closeted and miserable. Inevitably, the closet case comes out and they live happily ever after.
There are two movies that we have both seen that we can agree are great gay movies. I already mentioned Contracorriente and we both watched A Beautiful Thing separately, but both loved it so much that we had to have it on DVD. I think it was great because it all kind of came together, but there was still enough to leave to your imagination. They both have one character more conflicted than the other, but I think what makes them better is that it's not just a simple straightforward path like in other movies. It shows you things might be very sad and difficult, but when it comes down to it, it's love that will lead you through it.
The first type of gay movies I always think of as the AIDS crisis movie. It usually stars a self centered, egocentric lead. Usually it starts by showing his promiscuity and his group of friends who are all slowly coupling up and not so subtly spewing the moral of the film: "Enjoy life now (because you, someone you know, or everyone you know will die of AIDS as that's the price of admission for being gay.) The two best examples I can think of are "Jeffrey" and "The Broken Hearts Club". These movies also tend to feature straight guys playing gay; Michael T. Weiss (Jared from The Pretender) and Dean Cain (Superman from Lois and Clark,) especially hunky guys that gay men are pretty much programmed to find attractive.
*None of this is to criticize these movies but just to make a point. AIDS and HIV are serious illnesses and this is not to make light of the topic whatsoever. Furthermore, these movies tend to show a period of time that was scary and horrific for a lot of people. I couldn't even imagine what people went through watching friends die. I don't know how people made it through.*
The next is my personal favorite: Gay Best Friend as Father. The first two movies I can think of that fall into this category are The Object of my Affection with Paul Rudd (who we've been told is totally cute and we need to lust after) and Jennifer Aniston (who either would be or was already dating Brad Pitt when we were supposed to believe that she was your average woman unlucky in love) and The Next Best Thing starring Rupert Everett (who I think was out of the closet at the time and woo hoo for a gay leading man!) and Madonna (yeah, who was this targeted for?). *Just as a side note, I actually went with my girlfriend at the time to see this.* These movies follow the same path. The female lead is having a troublesome relationship or is tired of the line of assholes she's dated. Her cure for this moment of sadness: hang out with her gay best friend. Of course, she realizes that he'd be perfect if he just liked girls! They get drunk one night and (don't understand how you can be gay and this happens) they have sex. The woman ends up pregnant and in creeps that moral: children need a mother and a father and having a child out of wedlock is just a mistake. *They kindly gloss over all the gay couples and single parent households out there, not to mention the huge variety of families there are the world over.* All the moralizing comes to a head, the father takes his responsibility and the normal order is restored, all parties satisfied.
Now the largest category that exists: Gay Rebellious Love story. It's a very simple formula. Take two guys, usually one closeted, and the other not or at least not as much, they fall in love and much like the aids crisis movie, the closet case has to choose. The first examples that come to mind are Brokeback Mountain (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, I mean come on!) and Latter Days (Wes Ramsey/Owen from Days of our Lives or Sam from Guiding Light and Steve Sandvoss). I used to really enjoy these movies when I first came out because it always meant cute young guys. (Although to be perfectly honest, I've never seen a mainstream gay movie that didn't mean cute guys.)
Where we really were interested, and I still am, is whether or not there are more mainstream romantic comedies like what straight people have. I feel like one could try and classify Adam and Steve (that movie that they run on Logo all the time with Malcolm Gets and Craig Chester) but that really couldn't be too mainstream. Is it just impossible to tell the story? Has mainstream media lied to me about this being a post-sexual society? Are there examples of which I am just unaware?
Also, if there are movies you believe break the stereotypes, I'd love to hear about them. I take any and all recommendations seriously!