Category: Harry Hamlin

Gay Films Are Sad: Abdi Nazemian; My Chacha Is Gay; Harry Hamlin On Playing Gay

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.

 You can read more here.

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.

There’s more here.

Full Frontal Nudity Harry Hamlin

I’ve posted about full frontal nudity so many times this past year I decided to read a book titled Full Frontal Nudity by Harry Hamlin. It’s memoir. It was pubbed a few years ago. Here’s the book description from Amazon:

IN 2008, as he attempted to enter Canada to film a television series, Harry Hamlin—the former star of L.A. Law and once People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive—was detained at the border for unresolved narcotics convictions. And so begins Full Frontal Nudity, a laugh-out-loud-funny memoir in which Harry digs deep into his past to recount the wacky experiences of his childhood, the twisted path that led to his alleged criminal behavior, and the series of fortuitous mishaps that drove him to become an actor.

Harry was reared in suburban California in the late 1950s by a gin-gulping, pill-popping housewife mother and a rocket scientist father with a secret life. On its surface, his childhood was not unlike his peers’, except that he was kicked out of the fourth grade for writing a book report on Mein Kampf and, when he was eleven, his parents gave him a subscription to Playboy for Christmas. Curious by nature, chock-full of boyish charm and good looks, Harry experimented with mystical religion and set off for Woodstock, only to narrowly avoid lighting the whole of Yellowstone National Park on fire. At eighteen, he was ready to matriculate at Berkeley and become the architect he always wanted to be. But fate—this time in the form of a large Hells Angel, a few purple microdots, and an evening in the tree houses of La Honda—got in the way.

I didn’t just read this because of the title. I’m not THAT shallow, I hope not anyway. Part of the reason I read this was because I’ve been a huge fan of Harry Hamlin’s since he starred in the film, Making Love, which was the first mainstream feature film…that I can recall…with a gay theme, gay characters, and a gay love story. I once posted about it here. At the time, the straight critics slammed it for reasons I still don’t understand today. Because it was not only accurate, it really did deal with two gay men and their personal circumstances in a realistic way. It was also the first time I’d ever seen anything on film…this includes TV…where the main characters were not hippy activists or extremely effeminate. These characters were two normal men who broke all the gay stereotypes then…and now. I had no idea at the time a gay man could be a doctor. I was so young when I saw this film it frightened me and at the same time sparked something deep inside of me.

And now Hamlin is playing a complicated gay character on the TV show, Shameless. Once again, he’s breaking the stereotypes in ways no one has done before and he hasn’t received an ounce of credit for this. But after reading his book, I don’t think he really cares one way or the other. And I say this because it looks as if he’s reached a point where the most important thing in his life now is spending time with his family, and getting to know his kids. I know that feeling well.

I’m not going into a detailed review deal here with the book. It’s not the sort of book that needs extensive analysis. Sometimes that’s a good thing, too. But I will say that I loved it. It did teach me a few things about Hamlin I didn’t know…many things. And, it made me laugh in more than a few places. In fact, from page one, where he’s forced to deal with an idiot in order to get a work permit in Canada, I started to smile. He also speaks candidly about his personal life, and reveals a lot of his thoughts which is something I don’t often see in memoirs. The writing style seems innocent, but by no means offensive. But I didn’t read this book to critique his writing and I didn’t expect Ernest Hemingway. While the book most likely won’t change your life, it will entertain you, and for me that’s always more than enough. Five stars, if I decide to post this on Amazon.

Harry Hamlin: Shameless; Review: River of Tears by Michele L. Montgomery

Before I get into my review of “River of Tears,” by Michele L. Montgomery, I wanted to mention something about actor Harry Hamlin who is now playing an interesting role on the TV show, “Shameless.”

Hamlin has been around for a while, and he’s starred in several projects that have gay themes. In “Shameless,” he plays the wealthy father of Steve/Jimmy, who is also having a down-low sexual relationship with Steve/Jimmy’s girlfriend’s younger brother, Ian. You can read more about “Shameless,” here. I find the way they handle the gay characters is superior to any of the network shows. They are just gay and they are there. You don’t see a lot of political nonsense, stereotypes, or trendy bullshit. In other words, they make gay normal without trying too hard to make it the NEW normal…pardon the shameless puns.

In any event, I find it interesting that Hamlin (who is straight, and very fine, indeed) is playing a part like this in “Shameless,” because of a former role he played in the older gay film, “Making Love.” I was only a kid at the time, but I remember the controversy this film created.

According to gay film historian Vito Russo‘s book The Celluloid Closet, straight critics found the film boring while gay critics, glad for any attention paid to the subject, praised it. Making Love opened strong at the box office its first week, but poor word of mouth led to a large drop-off in box office receipts the following week.

Of course the straight critics didn’t like it. Straight people can’t relate to gay films like this, and these reviews are living proof in black and white. It was one of the first gay films I’d ever seen, and one of the first gay love stories I’d ever seen as well. I loved it. I would even go so far as to say it gave me role models at a time when young gay men didn’t have any. As a side note, Hamlin was younger then and extremely attractive. Trust me, he’s aged very well. I think he’s just as hot today on “Shameless” as he was back then.

Review: River of Tears by Michele L. Montgomery

I’ve read and reviewed this author’s fiction a few times before on this blog, but in all cases, up until now, those books and stories have been M/M Romance. As a M/M Romance author Michele is clearly one of the straight women writing in the genre who really knows how to nail it and get it right. So when she sent me a pre-release copy of “River of Tears,” I was a little apprehensive about reading it because it wasn’t M/M Romance this time. If I had to classify RoT in a bookstore, I would probably put it on the Romantic Suspense section. It is mainstream, with straight main characters, and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. Authors hop genres all the time, but not all do it well.

In this case, I was nicely suprised. The one thing that is most difficult about writing a review for any of Michele’s books is that they are filled with suspense and surprises and I don’t want to give out any spoilers. In fact, while I’m reading, I sometimes think about how…or if…I’m going to review the book because every other page seems to bring a new surprise. So I will be careful here and I won’t give spoilers.

The central theme of the storyline revolves around Abby, a sweet young women, but just as strong and determined as she is sweet. Abby winds up falling in love with a guy, Caiden, who comes from one of the most insane families I think I have ever read about in my life. The mother-in-law, Joyce, pulls some of the worst things anyone in the history of time has ever pulled on a daughter-in-law. I sat there, with my e-reader, in the middle of the night just re-reading certain things to make sure I got them right.

The rest of the family isn’t much better either. There are siblings that make the worst families look tame. And the things they do to poor Caiden left me stunned. Also, throughout the book, Michele adds bits and pieces of back story that make them all even worse. The things that happened to Caiden alone in his childhood would make most detectives who deal with child abuse sick to their stomachs. But it’s done in a way that leaves you hoping for the best, not focusing on the doom and gloom.

And that’s because of Abby’s inner strength, a strength she often doesn’t even know she has herself. One thing leads to another, and Abby winds up on a quest…or mission…that consumes her entire life. She becomes determiend to save her life, her own family (she has three small kids), and will not stop until she gets answers. It’s been a long time since I’ve read about a character as strong or as tenacious as Abby. She does have support from her own family, which I found to be a nice relief in the book. I think she would have been strong enough to get her life back without all this support, but it was a nice touch to see the family dynamic there as well. I think most of us who are family oriented like these things in novels.

As a side note, the writing was excellent, the editing was articulate, and I didn’t see any of the mistakes I sometimes find in digital books. But even if there had been a few mistakes in formatting…which there weren’t…I would have liked the book just as much because of all the other elements that made it such a good read. The settings are places we would all love to visit someday. I like novels to take me away to different places and I think in this case, with so many serious topics happening, these wonderful settings provided a brief sense of relief at times. It showed me that Abby’s life isn’t all bad, and that she does have so much to fight for.

That’s about all I can do without giving out spoilers. Part of the fun with a book like this is to be suprised all the time. You won’t find a great deal of sex in this book, and yet at the same time I found Caiden both adorable and sexy even though there aren’t any sex scenes. He’s so vulerable and such a nice guy, you just want to protect him from all these vicious people in his life.

I would recommend this book to anyone without thinking twice. I read it in three sittings, very late at night, but I would have loved to have had a chance to read it on one sitting if I’d had the time.

Purchase link from publisher’s web site, here.

Photo of Harry Hamlin, found here.