In his post on the movie, "DE-LOVELY," the Cole Porter biopic starring Kevin Kline, Dirty Harry notes that in a movie "stocked" with gay men, there was "not one monogamous gay man." He's right. When I saw the movie, I noted that while it showed Porter's numerous dalliances with other men, it didn't really show him relating to any single man in a real and spiritually intimate sense.
To be fair to the filmmakers, this may have been the true story of Porter's life, numerous dalliances, a few live-in lovers, no enduring relationship. This just told his story honestly. And while, like Dirty Harry, I enjoy many of Cole Porter's songs, after watching the movie, I really didn't care for him much as a man.
In his piece, Dirty Harry expressed something that I have noticed as well:
Now, I don't seek out gay films or television shows, but the ones I have seen rarely if ever portray the monogamous side of gay life. There seems to be this over-sexualization of homosexuals in the media that doesn't reflect an entire culture.
While I've certainly watched far more gay movies than has Dirty Harry (I do seek them out), I find I can often relate better to the straight characters in mainstream movies than I can to gay characters in gay movies.
And yet, there have been exceptions. Jim Fall's "TRICK by the relationship between two men of different backgrounds in " tells of two men who get to know each other in their unsuccessful quest for a place to "do it." John Keitel's "DEFYING GRAVITY" shows a fraternity brother coming to terms with his sexuality as he deals with the consequences of his boyfriend's injuries in a gay-bashing incident. And I have written about how moved I wasMiles Swain's "THE TRIP." I have yet to find the financing to produce my romance between two men who seek a monogamous relationship, "THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT."
Yet, except for my (as yet unproduced movie), none of these movies (good as they are) deals directly with gay monogamy. If we're gonna to talk about marriage, we need to talk about monogamy. I believe our films, our cultural product, should present an image of a better world and of the relationships we would like to have. For movies to portray gay relationships just as they have long portrayed straight ones. And to help define the meaning of the ideals for which we strive. And to help define the values which help sustain meaningful relationships. One of those values is monogamy. As I have written in a previous post
, "a romantic relationship between two individuals can only be truly spiritually nourishing if it is monogamous."
Although straight, Dirty Harry is a film fan like myself and, I believe, he asks exactly the right questions
Can't people in films just happen to be gay? Just like people in films just happen to be straight? You know, it's an after-thought. Not why they're in the movie. Not what their character's all about. Maybe activists in Hollywood feel we need to accept their sexuality first? Thirty years ago no one just happened to just be black in films. Race was an issue. Now that's changed. We don't think of Denzel as black. We think of him as one helluva movie star. So, maybe that's where we're eventually headed. I hope so. And I wonder if the gay community hopes so as well. Who wants to be identified solely by their sexuality?
if a sympathetic straight guy (who watches a lot of movies) raises these questions, what then are the unsympathetic ones (who may watch fewer movies) thinking?
And yet I know, just as many of our readers know, that the media images of gay men do not always reflect our lives. Many gay men, many lesbians live in healthy monogamous relationships. They have assumed the benefits as well as the burdens of building a life together with individuals they love.
Dirty Harry's post reminded me of questions which we need to ask: how can we promote monogamy, how can we promote gay marriage where so much of our cultural product celebrates sexual license? And his piece served to remind me why I moved to Los Angeles--to make movies which portray the struggles of gay men and lesbians in a universal language. In short, to show the humanity which is at the heart of our difference.
If we want to understand why Colorado Senator Wayne Allard speaks for a healthy chunk of the American populace when he proposes the "Marriage Protection Act," we need to look at the way we present ourselves to our fellow citizens. And more often than not, the images of gay people in the media are not images of a community capable of monogamy or concerned with the commitment and responsibilities of marriage.