The Love That Dared Not Show Its Face

I will never cease to be amazed at my bluntness.

Ever since I started studying the gay subtext in literature and the movies, I couldn't help but shake my head every time I discovered yet another book or film where the subtext has been eliminated or simply ignored. With every book I read on the subject I felt as if someone had switched on the lights and I'm seeing clearly now at last. All too clearly even...

Too be honest, I am mad. Yes, I am. I'm mad at the fact that I had to grow up in a world where such obvious gay references in movies had to be kept mum about. I am angry that I'm now sitting here, aged 22, and staring at the TV screen, not believing that it had never even occurred to me before, that 'Cabaret' was indeed about a gay man. And it's not even hidden! If I had watched to movie, I would have noticed it. But I didn't, because it just never caught my attention before.

What times are these where we cannot talk openly about such things? Times have changed, of course. Never have been gay people so liberated. But what makes me angry is that it's still treated as if it was something special. Shouldn't kids at school read about this subject, just as they read about racial conflicts and the like? Shouldn't they learn to accept and tolerate gays? Shouldn't they grow up knowing that they're there?

In a way, I agree with Harvey Fierstein here. Better a negative representation than none at all. But I only partially agree. Hollywood and the movies have become a very powerful tool to form people's opinions and ideas. Whole generations of queers had to grow up with the notion that homosexuality really is queer, twisted, weird and sick, and that it inevitably will end up in tears, anguish and death. Thank God, I grew up in a time when it was no longer demonized. But it was invisibilitized. Now, which is worse? I can't decide, really.

I wonder, if I had grown up with the notion: there are gays out there, this is how we see them. Would I have then developed a consciousness of it sooner? Then I would have had the chance to form my opinion and know for myself: they're here and it's not wrong, for crying out loud. Just as I saw depictions of hatred and racism which I loathed and condemned, I would have been able to see them, see us, as a group that actually does exist.

But I didn't. I don't think I had any notion of homosexuality until I was 12 or so. For a very short time, I thought it was a turn off. Then I realized that I liked girls myself. I suppressed it, of course, not knowing what I was dealing with. I made mistakes on my way of trying to adjust. I was unhappy. I struggled out of this horrible time myself. If there had been more films that visualize this, it all would have been a lot easier, I'm sure.

Thing is, those films existed. They were all there, all the time. I just didn't see them. And why? Because people kept mum about it. You don't talk about such films. Sure, they're there and those who are interested in it and want to know more about it are free to do so. Fine. But please don't make us acknowledge this openly, okay?

Well, thanks a bunch! If I think of all those years I was mocked and bullied by other people because I saw a gay subtext that nobody else did. I was told, "You queers always want to make everybody else queer! This is disgusting! Don't pull us all into your sordid affairs, okay?" Thing is, those things were there! It wasn't my sick sad mind that made it all up, no, it was they who were too stupid to see it themselves. It's not said explictly, thus it's not there, right? Any questions?

Actually, yes! Why do those people turn a blind eye on gay references in movies? Hints that were intentionally placed there as it had been stated by the directors, screenwriters, actors etc. many, many times? Why do they so desperately cling to the fact that it's not explicit, thus nonexisting? Isn't that really stupid and intolerant?

You tell me...

Now, to close my speech *g*, let me point out a few movies I always have had "under suspicion", been laughed at for my assumptions, and now finally found the proof!

Ben Hur (1959)

Now, please, don't tell me you never noticed the special kind of friendship between Judah (Charlton Heston) and Messala (Stephen Boyd). They grew up together, then parted and when reunited suddenly find each other on different sides. Judah is still a jew, now a distinguished member of society, but Messala has risen to fame in the Roman Empire. They quarrel over politics and become fierce enemies.

Messala, the villian without motivation. Supposedly. But no, see it this way: they were lovers when they were young. Messala returns, full of hope and ardor and still desperately in love with Judah. But he has to realize they no longer share a life. Both have changed, up to a point when it is impossible for them to get together again. And then Judah even rejects him. This hurts. That's how he grew to hate the one he could not have.

"I said I'd come back..."

Makes perfect sense. And I didn't make that all up. Gore Vidal, one of the screenwriters of Ben Hur, said that it was just intended this way. It was all laid out. But then they said "We'll never get Heston to do that!" So they only let Stephen Boyd in and he pulled it all off, and Heston played along, absolutely clueless. It's brilliant! Just look at the scene when Messala returns and they drink together and practice with their spears again (not what you think!). Handsome Messala, madly in love, eyes sparkling, touching Judah carefully, and longingly and Heston goes all "Well, old friend! haha!" ^_^

Messala and Judah

If you are not yet convinced, let me draw your attention to the following conversation bits:

They hug and Messala says tenderly, "I said I'd come back," and Judah whispers roughly, "I never thought you would. I'm... so glad." They share a long glance, Messala's eyes get steamy and he bursts out into a shy and nervous laugh. "Look at you!" Judah returns the smile. "Look at you! You've come back a tribune! When I heard the news I drank a toast to you." Messala's smile fades and he says, all serious. "We'll drink another now..."
When they throw their spears, Judah hits with his right next to Messala's who cheers, "After all these years! Still close...", to which Judah says seriously, "In every way."
Later, Messala says half-jokingly, half-bitter when he realizes that Judah rejected him, "Is there anything so sad as unrequited love?"

Did I convince you now? ^_^

Cabaret (1972)

All I knew about it for the longest time was what was written in my musical encyclopedias and in that summary on my CD. And while I loved the music, I never really found the story all too appealing. Some Nazi drama about an American writer in Berlin during WW II, hooking up with a flamboyant night club singer who gets pregnant from him and he finally sees that his quest for adventure had been silly after all. *yawns* How boring. BUT! What I didn't know then was that the stage version of this musical had been butchered beyond recognition.

It was only the movie with Liza Minelli in '72 that was true to the original book, 'The Berlin Stories' by Christopher Isherwood. Suddenly the writer Cliff Bradshaw becomes Brian Roberts, frail and boyish, and obviously more on the same side of his pitch.

But don't get me wrong. The movie wasn't that "innocent" either. In the end, it boils down to the message that Brian in fact was rather heterosexual and his fling with Sally's lover Maximilian had just been a mistake and he really ought to be with Sally. Sad. Isherwood said about this that he felt as if Brian's affection for Max had been used as some kind of kink only to emphasize the heterosexual value of his relationship with Sally. In the end he gets to prove his heterosexuality in order to get the girl. The message is, the bisexual one is the unreliable one. That's disappointing, too. But not as much as abandoning it altogether, IMO.

Maximilian, Brian and Sally

It's a rotten shame that they have butchered the message of this movie for the stage version. Although, if I'm correctly informed, they changed that for the all new Broadway staging, starring Alan Cummings in the original New York cast. Sure hope so!

As for the movie, it has some wonderful scenes, too. I just love the scene when Brian hisses, "Screw Maximilian!" and Sally replies, "I do!" . Brian stares at her and then he mumbles, "So do I..." That's an ingenious dialogue. And I love the scene when Brian, Sally and Maximilian kiss at the same time. That's so tender...


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

A subtext which is still quite evident in the play, but was completely killed in the movie. Brick and Skipper. Ever wondered why exactly Brick (Paul Newman) is suffering so much? Now, when you think about it, it's sorta clear that Brick is gay, was in love with Skipper, who's now dead. He hates Maggie (Elizabeth Tayor) for being a woman and for trying to entice Skip away from his side. It's obvious. He doesn't want to sleep with Maggie and explodes at the mere mention of Skip's name.

And Maggie accuses him of it, too! She says "I hated Skipper, because you loved him so much!" And we're not talking about friendship here. She clearly says that she slept with Skipper to show him that his love is unnatural and that he has to change. Always the same construction.

In cut-scenes from the movie, Big Daddy accuses his son almost openly of "unnatural love".

"Come on! Say what's on your mind!"

When you think of it, this is the same pattern as in the most famous love triangle, the Shakespeare Sonnets. Maggie is the Dark Lady (and what a dark lady...), Brick is the poet, aging, alcoholic and bitter. And Skipper is the young, golden-haired man. Pretty and fickle, letting himself being seduced by the Dark Lady. Classical triangulation of desire! Woohoo! *_* Now I'm feeling so smart for having realized that! *g*

A Streetcar Names Desire (1951)

I still can't calm down that I didn't get the obvious reference in A Streetcar named Desire by Tennessee Willliams the first time I came across it. Or maybe I did, and I just forgot. Now thinking about it, it's really sorta obvious what it was that Blanche (Vivien Leigh) caught her hubby doing. I remember it so well from the theater, when she runs out of the house and yells "You make me sick! You make me sick!!!!" How could I have missed that? Of course she found her husband with another man. And he killed himself over the shame... how sad. But Williams always did such great stuff. Once again, the play is so much clearer though.

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Another very bizarre example of Williams' plays for the big screen with gay themes is 'Suddenly, Last Summer'. Apparently, Williams (who was gay) wrote this on the advice of his psychotherapist on order to come to terms with his own sexuality by "exposing the evils" of homosexuality. The result was the tale of a "degenerate poet", Sebastian, who first uses his demented mother and later his older cousin to lure young boys into his trap, but finds his horrible end in the frantic attack of raging urchins.

The movie later only consisted by perhaps 40% of Williams' original play, the rest was written by Gore Vidal. The catholic Legion of Decency (hum...) then approached the matter with a pair of scissors and butchered it to pieces. Surprise, surprise! Yet they decided that this film could be shown, since it illustrated the perversion and horrors of homosexuality in a mixture of obsession, madness and cannibalism. They decided, however, that the poet should never make an appearance throughout the film. The result was quite fascinating. The actor who played Sebastian Venable was cut out everywhere. All that was left was a glimpse here and there of his arm, his sleeve, his legs... he became a demon without a face. The story was told in shady flashbacks by his cousin, played by Elizabeth Taylor. That way this film became a truly disturbing horror vision.

A funny note: Katherine Hepburn played the poet's mother. She had no clue what the fuss was all about until the director and her husband Spencer Tracy spent one whole evening explaining to her the concept of homosexuality. She then plain refused to believe that people would actually engage in such disgusting actions and then demanded the film to be altered!

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

That's almost classical. Young Plato, played by Sal Mineo, is the obvious sissy. He has a photograph of a guy in his locker and follows Jim, played by James Dean, with ardent admiration. He probably was looking more for a father figure than a lover, but Jim returns his feelings so blatantly that sparks fly. In a way, Jim's just as loving and caring towards Plato as he is towards his girl, played by Natalie Wood. But of course, in a time like this, none of them could act upon their desires, thus they were stuck in a constant balancing act between desire, suppression and anguish.

Plato and Jim

Of course, like so many queers in the movies, Plato finds his bloody end as well.

An additional note: That's something that really bothers me, too. Gays usually are depicted as mad, degenerate and murderous. And of course, they always die, be it by murder or suicide. No wonder so many gays in the past had to feel bad about themselves. I thought this was really significant that my beloved book included a whole Necrology, listing many gays that died in the movies. Very, very sad...

Spartacus (1960)

Ooooh yes, my beloved Spartacus with this wonderful dialogue about oysters. The older man, Crassius, is taking a bath and his young slave, Antoninus is attending him. They are having this conversation. Now tell me what it is about!

Antoninus, do you eat oysters?
Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?
No, master.
And taste is not the same as appetite and therefore not a question of morals, is it?
It could be argued so, master.
Um, that'll do. My robe, Antoninus. Ah, my taste... it includes both oysters and snails.

Crassius and Antoninus

Got it? I think this is brilliant! They are obviously not talking about food, are they? They are talking about taste in men or women and it's ingenious!

Once again, however, the scissors erased the gay subtext, which really is a pity in this case, because it explained Antoninus' actions. He was shocked at the thought of being asked to engage in actions he was not ready to do. That's why he fled from his master to join Spartacus and the other rebel slaves. I really want the DVD with the complete version!

Additional cinematographic note: when the complete version was restored, the soundtrack of this scene was lost. Thus, they had to redub it. Tony Curtis did his own voice, but unfortunately, Sir Laurence Olivier, who played Crassius, was already deceased. However, substitute was found. In this scene, Sir Anthony Hopkins did Crassius' voice, since he had worked with Olivier a lot and could imitate him perfectly! ^_^

Wings (1927)

The first movie to win an Academy Award for Best Picture in 1927, about the friendship between two men in WW I and the woman they both love. While this silent movie superficially focuses on the heterosexual love triangle, there is no denying the subtle but persistent homosexual attraction between the two main characters.

Jack and David
"You - you know there is nothing in the world
that means so much to me as your friendship -"

"I knew it -- all the time--"

Jack (Charles Rogers) and David ( Richard Arlen) both enlist in the Air Force at the outbreak of war. Being rivals for the love of Mary, the two initially dislike each other, despite the constant gazing into each others eyes. This changes during an out-of-control boxing match when David is knocked down, and with a look of hurt and blood gazes up to his opponent. They leave arm in arm and become best friends.

Rebecca (1940)

Another Hitchcock classic. Whereas the movie's emphasis certainly lies on the romance of handsome Mr. de Winter (Laurence Olivier) and his second wife which is overshadowed by his uncanny attachment to his deceased first wife Rebecca, there is one character that is like a red alert sign to every gay viewer: Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), Rebecca's devoted housekeeper whose unconditional admiration for her borders on obsession.

Unforgettable is the scene where she leads the new Mrs. de Winter into Rebecca's boudoir and shows her her clothes which she's still keeping fresh and ready to use. Mrs. de Winter (sorry, she has no first name) is torn between dismay and a morbid curiosity. And then, in one breathless moment, Mrs. Danvers buries her face in a fur coat, closing her eyes wistfully for an instant before brushing it over the other woman's cheek who shrinks back in horror.

Mrs. Danvers

Rebecca is based on the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier. Although leading a quiet, married life her bisexuality has been the subject of a lot of discussion. Strongly individualistic, du Maurier once remarked about lesbianism, "Nobody could be more bored with the 'L' people as I am."

Red River (1948)

Sexual frustration runs rampant here, between both male and female characters, the most obvious ones, however, being between young Matt (Montgomery Clift) and his tyrannical guardian, played by John Wayne, and the playful flirtations between Matt and the cowboy Cherry (John Ireland).

You get this very sexy talk between Cherry and Matt which basically just revolves around guns, but you can see they've got something completely different in mind.

Cherry and Matt

Cherry comes up to Matt from behind and says, "That's a good-looking gun you're about to use back there. Can I see it?" Matt smiles boyishly and gives him the gun. With a meaningful look, Cherry pushes his into Matt's hand, saying "And you'd like to see mine!" Then he starts inspecting the gun, stroking it tenderly as he purrs, "Nice, awful nice..." He liftes his head to see Matt's eyes transfixed on his hands. Cherry grins and says, "You know, there are only two things more beautiful than a good gun. A Swiss watch or a woman from anywhere. You ever had a good..." Their eyes meet. "Swiss watch?"

Montgomery Clift's bisexuality (strongly leaning towards the male side) was an open secret in Hollywood. He often experienced rejection because of that. On the set of The Misfits, Clark Gable only referred to him as "that faggot". A bad carcrash in '56 left his beautiful face disfigured and he was never the same again after that. Never fully comfortable with his gayness, he died at the age of 46, worn out after a life of drugs and alcohol.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

This monumental flick of maximum length completely ignores the fact that the historical T.E. Lawrence was gay, but the way pretty Lawrence of Arabia (Peter O'Toole) sends out rather ambiguous messages leaves enough room for interpretation. (Quote Noel Coward to Peter O'Toole: "If you'd been any prettier, it would have been Florence of Arabia!")

However, this movie approaches the subject of homosexuality to imply villainy. The Turkish Bey is a vile man who lets Lawrence experience a night of torture and humiliation through the hands of the Turks and this goes well with him being gay. What really happened that night is left in the shawdows. In his journal, Lawrence wrote about this night, "the citadel of my integrity has been irretrievably lost that night in Derea".

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Okay, not a film with real gay issues, but remember that guy who comes to visit Sam Spade? He's queer! It's suggested by him using perfume, but also the way he touches his lips with his walking stick in a very sensual way. Once again, this is not a figment of my sick mind, but I have proof. In the original novel, this guy is identified as a homosexual by Spade's secretary.

Haha! Gotcha! But this is very useful actually. See? These little facts give us hints to how Hollywood used to gloss over homosexuality and gives us a powerful tool to unveil it again. Like our own little Queer Stone of Rosette!

Those are just a few examples where homosexuality was effectively disguised until almost nobody saw it anymore. I was surprised though that one of the first things captured on film way back then in 1890-something were two men dancing! Interesting, don't you think? I now could start with the oldest written piece known to us, the Epic of Gilgamesh, around 4000 years old, describing a very intimate same sex bonding between the two male main characters, including the traditional elegy and all that, but I'll spare you that! ^_^

What I found much more astounding though, were the films that openly dealt with gay topics! And I had no clue! I did, however, see some of them. I'll make a list of a couple of those and new ones I just discovered. Just to name a few:

The Children's Hour (1962) with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley McLaine. Audrey is Karen, a sensitive straight and Shirley is Marthe, the closeted lesbian. Together they run a boarding school for girls. When a sneaky kid accuses them of having an affair, things collaps above their heads.

Marthe and Karen

In this heartwrenching scene Marthe cries "Oh God, I feel so damned sick and dirty I can't stand it anymore!" The movie ends with Marthe hanging herself...

Making Love (1982) about a gay husband coming out and getting into a relationship with another man. A Hollywood landmark actually, probably first real gay romance on the big screen. Unfortunately a bit too blow-dried to really make people go crazy over it.

Zack and Bart

"Why don't you just say it?" "I'm gay." "Thank you." "You're welcome."

The theater version was introduced by a ridiculously long disclaimer that read:

We believe MAKING LOVE breaks new ground in its sensitive portrayal of a young woman executive who learns that her husband is experiencing a crisis about his sexual identity.
MAKING LOVE deals openly and candidly with a delicate issue. It is not sexually explicit. But it may be too strong for some people.
MAKING LOVE is bold but gentle. We are proud of its honesty. We applaud its courage.

Directed by Arthur Hiller who already did Love Story.

Ludwig (1972); one of my personal favorites. A screen adaptation of the life of King Ludwig II of Bavaria who was gay, as we all know. Helmut Berger pulls off a grand Ludwig, youthful and beautiful. The movie was directed by Visconti and he and Berger were lovers at that time. Of course, this movie was screened in censored version for many years until finally restored to its full homosexual splendor.

Mädchen in Uniform (1934); German b/w movie about a girl in love with her teacher.

The Hunger (1983) with Susan Sarandon and Cathérine Deneuve about chic lesbian vampires and sweet sex scenes. I want Cathérine...
Miriam is an icy and elegant vampire lady who is centuries old. After her current lover of 200 years (David Bowie) is rapidly aging, she seeks out a new victim, butch Sara, a doctor who has written in the subject of accelerated aging.

Miriam and Sara

Cruising (1980); rather disgusting and anti-gay, but still interesting. With Al Pacino, about a gay policemen who goes out killing other gays. Pacino's straight character enters the gay scene undercover and gets dragged into the evil swamp of homosexuality. The murder scenes are atrocious.

Young Man With a Horn (1950) with Lauren Bacall as a drop-dead gorgeous, tantalizing lesbian Amy, married to the musician Rick, but not out of love. I don't think I've closed my mouth for an hour or so after I've seen her hit the screen. Gods, she was SUCH a beauty. I was bewitched by her body. She was really thin actually and I felt so bad for admiring it, but still I did. So elflike... Errr, I'm digressing.
When Amy wants to run off to Paris with her girlfriend, her husband (Spencer Tracy) says, full of disdain, "You're a sick girl, Amy. You'd better see a doctor."

Midnight Express (1978) about a man's experiences in a Turkish prison. Supposedly falsifying Billy Hayes' original book, but it's got a sweet shower kiss scene.

Midnight Express

The Boys in the Band (1970), the first Hollywood movie in which all principal characters were gay. Historically and politcally significant despite (or because of) the characters' persistent self-loathing and wallowing in self-pity. Eight friends meet to celebrate Harold's (Leonard Frey) birthday. Michael (Kenneth Nelson) is the host, an unhappy gay Catholic. As the evening proceeds, the playful bickering turns into vengeful attacks that make the men realize how very sad and lonely it is to be homosexual.

Michael close to tears
"Show me a happy homosexual and I'll show you a gay corpse."

The theatrical poster featured a picture of Harold with the caption "Today is Harold's birthday" and one of a pretty hustler (Robert La Tourneaux) saying "This is his present". Most major newspapers refused to print it.
On a sadder note, Kenneth Nelson, Leonard Frey and Robert La Tourneaux all have died of AIDS.

Staircase (1969), a musical about a gay couple, with Rex Harrison and Richard Burton. Rather annoying, homophobic and stupid, really, but a landmark nevertheless. When it came out, appalled journalists asked the two famous actors what they did to make their beautiful voices sound gay. *chuckle* Asked if they weren't afraid to harm their career with this, Harrison and Burton answered, "We're too old, too famous, and too rich to worry about the consequenses.

Rope (1948), a Hitchcock classic and one of the 7 lost movies (or so), about two male lovers who kill a former classmate and indulge themselves in inviting friends at their place with the corpse on the premises. A shockingly brilliant flick, IMO. The movie has been shot in real time and covers the 2 hours between the murder and the discovery.

"When his body went limp I felt tremendously exhilarated! How did you feel??"

The murdering couple was based on the real life psychopaths Leopold and Loeb.

A Different Story (1978) with Perry King; disputed a lot since it's about a gay man and a lesbian, both unhappy, who fall in love and marry each other. It was accused of showing gays turning straight. I, however, think that this isn't the case. Just because you're gay, doesn't mean you have to avoid the other sex like hell. To me, this is the truest and purest expression of friendship and love, when you can be together without having sex. Admitted, I did not see the movie, so maybe they had sex, but this is just a general comment on my side! ^_^.

Papillon (1973), with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. The story of two dissimilar men banded together during their incarceration at the dreaded Devil's Island. Whereas the nature of Papillon and Dega's bonding can be argued, this film is notable because of it's positive portrayal of an openly gay man, Maturette (Robert Deman). He first comes out to the audience in a scene that is both erotic and startling alike, when Maturette is groped by a lecherous inmate at the lazarette at night who puts a nelly into his mouth before caressing him.

Dega and Papillon reunited

Maturette comes across as a gay man who is handsome, but not stupid. When proposed by Papillon to have sex with the guards to distact them in order to enable him to escape, he curtly rejects the offer. He wants to come along and achieves this by saying "I'm a fag, queer, fairy, poof" and making it clear that whereas Papillon might have been falsely charged with murder, he indeed killed a man and is up for the challenge. Maturette proves himself to be stronger and tougher than most of the other straight prisoners.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971) with Glenda Jackson and Peter Flinch, about the homosexual doctor Daniel and the straight career woman Alex who both are in love with the bisexual artist Bob (Murray Head) who treats them equally aloofly and with almost bemused detachment. This quiet drama evolves around human relations, rather than the question of sexuality, taking alternative lifestyles for granted. Something remarkable for that time. It shows that love isn't always what you were taught to be and in the end everyone settles for less than what they expected. At the end stands the realization that everyone is alone.
The happy ending is presented for a homosexual character who's dull resignation is not a product of his gayness. So tells Daniel the audience in the end, "People say to me, He never made you happy. And I say, But I am happy. Apart from missing him. All my life I've been looking for someone courageous and resourceful. He's not it. But something. We were something."

Daniel and Bob making love

The passionate kiss between Daniel and Bob caused a riot and contributed to the movie's box-office failure. Male homosexuality always has been defined in terms of sex. True affection was out of the question. So, in a way the kiss caused more of a stir than showing them in bed together. What I find remarkable about this love scene is the way it has been shot and put into scene. There has always been a difference between how men get it on on screen and how women do. These here do it in a tender and beautiful way, in a time when m/m sex used to be something aggressive and threatening.

I realize that those films don't really fit here, since they were made well past the time when the Love That Dared Not Show Its Face appeared on the big screen. Now it's no longer a biggie to make a film about gays. But still, I would like to take this moment to bring you a few selected movies closer. Of course, there are tons of others and this list is less than complete, but to me those are exceptional specimens of contemporary queer cinema.

Carrington (1995) with Emma Thompson and Jonathan Pryce. This movie shaped my views of love. I cannot stress enough how much I love it. It tells the story of gay writer Lytton Strachey who fell in love with the looks of boyish painter Carrington, mistaking her for a boy. They form a deep friendship, move in together and eventually even share their lovers. Based on their true story, it shows beautifully how love can develop without bothering about sexual preference and last forever.


Velvet Goldmine (1998) with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ewan McGregor. Do I have to say more? If you know me, you know how much I adore this movie and I could probably fill pages with it. I'll hold myself back now, though. ^_^

Brian and Curt
"The curves of your lips rewrite history..."

Loosely based on the life of David Bowie, this movie follows the rise and fall of (fictional) glam rock icon-to-be Brian Slade, his turbulent career and passionate relationship with American rockstar Curt Wild. The events are witnessed by Arthur (Christian Bale), who explores and defines his own sexuality along with his idols. Everybody in this movie seems to be gay, or at least bi. ^_^
It was directed by the brilliant Todd Haynes who has made himself a name before for his gay-themed movies of a different kind.

It's My Party (1996) with Eric Roberts and Gregory Harrison. One of those movies that wouldn't let me stop crying for hours afterwards. The story of HIV-positive Nick who decides to take his own life before the debilitating effects of his disease set it, but not before throwing a magnificent farewell party, inviting friends and family, most of which don't have a clue how this party will end. The plot thickens when Nick's ex-lover appears on the scene.

Nick and his family

Openly gay director Randal Kleiser based this movie on his real-life experience.

Priest (1994) with Linus Roache and Robert Carlyle, the painful quest of a man of cloth who finds himself torn between his love for God, his job and a man.
Father Greg (Linus Roache) has been assigned to a poor Liverpool parish. There, his faith is tested for the first time when he finds out that the resident priest, Father Matthew, has an affair with his housekeeper. Then, a girl tells him in the confessional that she's being sexually abused by her father, but he's sworn to secrecy and can't do anything about it. And then, there's the problem of his homosexuality. When he gets arrested for having sex at a public place with his new lover Graham (Robert Carlyle) whom he picked up in a bar, his secret is exposed and society's hypocrisy hits him with full force.

Father Greg
"I turn to him for help and seeing the picture of a naked man simply turns me on."

This film shows in a very moving way how religion often conflicts with a person's individual needs and desires and also the hypocrisy of celibacy and confidentiality. With these important issues, Greg's gayness is just another facet to make this movie more dramatic and touching.

Total Eclipse (1995) with Leonardo DiCaprio and David Thewlis. This movie widely received bad reviews, but I can't help it, I love it. It's the fascinating portrayal of the tempestuous love/hate relationship between the French poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine.
When 16 year old Arthur comes to Paris, he sweeps the already established and well-known poet Paul off his feet, causing him to abandon his wife and child to travel the world with his young lover and pursue an artistic lifestyle. Arthur is so full of himself and his art that he doesn't seem to care about anything else and thus causes Paul a lot of pain which finally results in both their doom.

Paul and Arthur

The affair of Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud is based on their true life. What I love about this movie is the quiet sadness with which it describes how love and obsession can destroy a person. It touched my heart to see that Paul never forgot Arthur.

The Living End (1992), we are taken on a lawless road adventure, following the fates of two HIV-positive gay men who decide to fuck the world, before it fucks them. An ultra-low budget production (which sometimes shows, unfortunately) that presents a different kind of reaction to society's disregard for the plight of HIV-positive people and that is despite its bitter issue a funny and intriguing black comedy.

Luke and Jon

The movie was directed by openly gay director Gregg Araki, known for his assaultive, in-your-face independent hits and bleak look at life, but also often criticized for his blunt comments and kinda arrogant public image.
"The harshest criticism I've gotten is from gay journalists themselves, and it makes me wonder if they're the ones who are self-hating closet queens." - Gregg Araki.

With that I shall close my lecture for today. I could go on about this forever, but I can't possibly do that,I just wanted to record this for the future. I'm sure I'll write more about this some other time, so check back, if you feel like it! ^_^


Bryant, Wayne M.; Bisexual Characters in Film : From Anais to Zee, Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 1997
Ehrenstein, David; Open Secret : Gay Hollywood, 1928-2000, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000
Murray, Raymond; Images in the Dark - An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Cinema, London: Titan Books, 1998
Russo, Tito; The Celluloid Closet - Homosexuality in the Movies, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1987