Gay Films are Sad: Abdi Nazemian
I post about this topic less than I should, and that’s partly because it’s so frustrating these days. Gay people are almost always portrayed poorly in films, they are often portrayed poorly in books, and I don’t even read reviews of gay books anymore because most of the people reviewing them don’t know the first thing about gay men or gay culture. And why should they? They’ve learned about gay men from bad films and books.
The biggest frustration is that people don’t want to learn. It’s as if they want to keep all gay men placed in this tight little box with all the age old stereotypes we’ve been seeing since well before Sex in the City aired with it’s inaccurate take on gay men. (The odds are, sadly for those who love this kind of trope, that a gay man becoming the best friend of a straight women are limited to a small percentage. That’s just a fact. Will and Grace was funny, it was groundbreaking at the time, it was well done and I liked it for what it was, but it was NOT a GOOD portrayal of gay men.)
I think that finally gay men are beginning to speak up about this, and to question the content out there. Hollywood screenwriter Abdi Nazemian is one of these people, and thankfully he has a platform and a voice strong enough where people just might listen. In fact, Nazemian says so much I’m not even sure which quote I support the most.
This has always bothered me:
‘There’s this idea of a straight saviour. In both cases the lead character is not only a straight man but a homophobic straight man that saves the day and saves gay men.’
I agree with this next remark, too. And it’s why I made a point of reviewing The Normal Heart.
And of course there are other narratives — I mean, now HBO made ‘The Normal Heart,’ which is a great counter-narrative to those. So there is great stuff being done, but when you look at it on a whole, especially in feature films, I think it’s a very sad depiction of gay culture.’
I think the gay man gets the last word on gay content…or at least that’s the way it should work.
I also think things will be changing in time. A lot of what we have seen and are seeing now with gay content in books and films is going to become obsolete, inaccurate, and even politically and socially incorrect. Kind of like the way African American characters were portrayed in Gone with the Wind. We’re all talking about this behind the scenes, in private. Make no mistake about it. We’re silent, but we’re watching and talking.
You can read more here. I actually think that what Nazemian is saying now will continue to gain support and we’ll hear others like him speaking up about it. With so many social changes taking place it’s inevitable.
I did see Philadelphia and I agree 100% with Nazemian…straight men are not the saviors of the gay community. I have NOT seen Dallas Buyers Club yet and I’m not sure I will. And for the very reasons Nazemian mentions in this article.
My Chacha Is Gay
This is the title of a new book for children in Pakistan with LGBT content. From what I gather, the book is designed to help kids in Pakistan learn tolerance and understanding of LGBT people.
‘My Chacha is gay’ is believed to be the first ever resource designed to teach Pakistani young people about different family arrangements and tells the story of Ahmed, a little boy who lives in the city of Karachi in Pakistan and his gay favorite uncle.
Here’s a line from the book:
The way Ahmed’s mother and father love each other is the same way Chacha and Uncle Faheem love each other.
This is interesting to me because I don’t know much about Pakistani culture. But even more interesting is that the book is written by a blogger who writes about sexuality.
This is from the blogger’s web site…another google blogger:
So a couple of months ago, I wrote an innocent little children’s book, promoting nothing but love, tolerance and diversity. To my surprise, this little project took on a life of its own – I received so much love and encouragement, yes, even from Pakistan – that I was thrilled.
It’s a fascinating post.
Harry Hamlin On Playing Gay
Actor Harry Hamlin whom I’ve posted about here on the blog before, talks about how making a gay film in the 1980’s affected his acting career.
‘It was way before its time…It was something that I would repeat. I would do it again today, even though there was a ruffle in my career after that, for sure.’
He told host Andy Cohen that ‘a lot of people turned it down’ but that his agent at the time said he was ‘the only one who could do it’ because he was involved in a high-profile relationship with actress Ursula Andress with whom he had a son.
So the actor, now married to actress Lisa Rinna, was widely known to be straight and the thought was it would not be harmful to his career.
The film Hamlin is talking about is titled, Making Love. I haven’t seen it in a long time but I do remember that is was one of the few gay films ever produced where a straight man played gayface that didn’t bother me (or piss me off). And Hamlin has never, not once in all these years, made a dumb comment about his role in that film…unlike so many other straight actors who have played gayface.
I actually had no idea that was the last feature film Hamlin did. He made the transition into television after that. He’s now playing a highly charged role in TV’s Shameless. Once again, Hamlin is playing a gay role that is about as accurate as it gets on TV.