Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Class Five - Other Films about Gay Rights

Before there was Milk, there was Wilde. Le Placard's main character wasn't really gay, but there are plenty of films that feature real life gay people. Wilde is one of them. And unlike the recent Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn, who portrayed gay activist Harvey Milk, Oscar Wilde-portraying actor Stephen Fry is gay. Fry may not have received an Oscar for his Oscar, but he was the winner of the Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle Award for Best Actor. Really, isn't that just as good? has a list of Gay and Lesbian Films created a post called 50 Greatest Gay Movies of All Time! posted The Best Movies About Gays

Had you previously seen any films with gay characters that you thought were particularly good? Did any film make you think about gay rights differently?

I can remember seeing Philadelphia in 1993; Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington were wonderful in the drama about fighting against discrimination facing a gay man who is dying of AIDS.

Did you read about any films that you'd like to see? I did! My "DVD's to rent" list has officially expanded. One of the movies is In & Out with Kevin Kline. In some ways, it's like Le Placard when an straight man is "outed" as gay and has to deal with everyone's new view of him. Wikipedia describes the inspiration for the plot:
The film was inspired by Tom Hanks' tearful speech when he accepted his 1994 Oscar (for his role in Philadelphia), in which he mentioned his high-school drama coach Rawley Farnsworth, and his former classmate John Gilkerson, "two of the finest gay Americans, two wonderful men that I had the good fortune to be associated with" - unaware that Farnsworth was still 'in the closet'.The film became one of mainstream Hollywood's few attempts at a comedic "gay movie" of its era, and was widely noted at the time for a 10-second kiss between Kevin Kline and Tom Selleck.

Guy Damman wrote an article for the Guardian Film Blog, How Gay Films Made Me a Better Man, when he reviewed a new book
Out at the Movies: A History of Gay Cinema by Steven Paul Davies in December 2008. He states:
I was, for many years, one of those who looked away. It wasn't that I wanted to, or that there was any genuine homophobia in my attitudes. Yet I simply found I just couldn't quite cope with the sight of Rupert Everett canoodling with Michael Jenn in Another Country, or Daniel Day Lewis getting it on with Gordon Warnecke in My Beautiful Laundrette. Now, though, with the progress of cinema's slow journey out of the closet and the gentle readjustment of my sensibilities - and perhaps those of millions of others, too – I can, with pleasure.

Though our focus is on popular culture films, I think it's worth mentioning Celluloid Closet, a 1995 documentary of the history of gays and lesbians in cinema. It was based on the book of the same name by Vito Russo.

Have your attitudes about gay people changed as cinema has come out of the closet?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Holly - Really haven't seen too many movies about gays/lesbians. Until fairly recently, I believe such movies were largely pornographic--not very edifying. Earlier movies hinted at the theme: The Picture of Dorian Grey in the 1940's--the scent of lavender was present. Then there was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof--a much stronger hint that all was not heterosexual. Tootsie showed an unintended consequence of a man pretending to be a woman.
Perhaps the first overt gay-themed movie I saw was La Cage aux Folles--Really funny and at the same time moving. I can't say that seeing gay themed movies changes my ideas/attitudes. CRT