Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Why mainstream LGBT movies are relevant today.

If you are asking yourself "Who Cares?" read on...

So, at this stage, anyone who has seen my online presence since last December will be aware of the movie Love, Simon or the book it is based upon Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. If you keep up-to-date with award winning movies you’ve also heard of (or even seen) Call me by Your Name based on the book of the same name.

But lots of people, gay or straight might read my blogs (& other posts) and say to themselves...Who Cares? 

The Marriage Equality referendum in Ireland in May 2015 did one amazing thing. It gave LGBT people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to talk their family and friends. It allowed them, sometimes to verbalise for the first time, “Well, actually, I am Gay and it’s really important you support me and everyone else’s right to marry”. I loved the #RingYourGranny campaign. 

This movie is a conversation starter and LGBT people all around the World are using it to breath for the first time. As Simon’s mother says to him when he comes out:

Lots of people have used the movie to start the conversation and if you search #LoveSimon on twitter you will see a great selection of comments.

This movie can also help straight people, friends, family members, parents and grandparents understand the LGBT person they know. If you are connected to the facebook or twitterverse you might have seen posts and tweets all around the World with amazing messages. Apart from the messages themselves being an affirmation and positive thing to others, the content brings a tear also...

Whilst Love, Simon is a happily-ever-after story it’s a story that needs to be told. As one of the taglines says “Everyone deserves a love story”. Hitherto fore, we have only been given LGBT characters that are either supporting or nearly in the background. They have mostly been portrayed with negative storylines such as bullying, harassment, suicide, murder, loneliness, heartbreak and finally AIDS and death. With every other LGBT movie you are watching them with a knot in your stomach, a dread, you are waiting for the inevitable to happen and the gut wrenching punchline where the LGBT character is dead, forgotten or sidelined. The movie that springs to mind is “Boys Don’t Cry”. Even if you think of the acclaimed Brookback Mountain, we don’t even come close to a happy ending. It is so important for people to see a movie that has a happy ending.

Having director and actors who care about their art is vital for a good movie. Whether that movie is a mainstream teen romance like Love, Simon or a little more serious venture like Call me by Your Name of a young man exploring his sexuality; to see a movie with high production values and skilled artists at work is a joy. Think of the OCD detail that Kubrick gives us, the stunning seamless special effects from Spielberg and the all compelling story from Eastwood.  You might not like the subject matter of Million Dollar Baby but it is a compelling story, Hilary Swank is amazing in it and it’s a movie you have to watch to the very end. (Swank was also amazing in Boys Don’t Cry of course)

People are complaining that Simon is too normal and good looking. That he can “pass” as straight and doesn’t represent gay people. This is bullcrap. There are lots of gay people who do not fit into the pigeon hole perception of the effeminate, finger clicking, flamboyant gay. 

People are also complaining that this is just another rubbish teen rom-com with the story skewed a little. This is also bull crap. That’s the whole point of the movie (and book). Simon is normal. He is normal in every way, just like his peers. He has an idyllic life, great parents, a car, great friends etc. Even most of the school (except 2 jocks) accept him. Yes, this is a little fairytale like, but I like to think of it is aspirational. There is nothing wrong with presenting an idyllic World where everyone has a happy ending. Every other rom-com does this so why shouldn’t Simon have the same. These are two important messages that need to be told. Again...everyone deserves a love story.

Finally, COMING OUT. If you are straight and hetronormative you just don’t get it. Struggling with your sexual identity, eventually owning it and then telling the World is a personal and daunting task. At the end of Summer 2001 I remember sitting in Robertino’s, a restaurant in Wexford with my two best friends. First one, then the other came out. The first person, well everyone knew. The second was a bit of a surprise. I then came out. That was one hell of a dinner. The first person that came out, we met in school in September of 1989. We are still great friends. The second person that came out, well we met in or around 1984 or 85. He will remember exactly when. We are still great friends. I was and am so lucky to have such amazing friends.

Whilst the movie is mostly a nice teen rom-com, Simon is outed by a vindictive little shit. This brings the movie back to earth and away from its fairytale. Coming out is a personal thing, how you do it, to whom and the time scale should always be owned by that person. Most people don’t come out to the World and their dog at the same time. It’s normally done in baby steps, your best friends first, then your siblings, parents and wider World. At some stage you don’t bother telling anyone else as it doesn’t matter. Having a movie depicting this turmoil is fantastic, it tells a young LGBT person they are not alone and it goes some way to explain to straight people the horror it can be.

Check out this amazing story also for some more inspiration.

I just want to finish with this beautiful scene, WHY?...Well until every parents reaction is like this we need movies like Love, Simon.


John The Captain Ryan

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