Monday, October 17, 2011

Weekend and the Representation of Gay Relationships

This weekend, I saw this movie, Weekend. (See what I did there?)

It was really, really good. I utterly enjoyed it and I couldn't help but get a little excited about watching two super hot dudes and their sexy times. (What? Sue me.)

The next day as I was cruising the webs, I came across this piece of news. It contained a sentence which really gave me pause:

Judy Chiasson, Coordinator for Human Relations, Diversity and Equity for the L.A. Unified School System, the state’s largest, said LGBT topics are controversial because people conflate them with sex — and, for religious conservatives, sin.

“People sexualize homosexuality and romanticize heterosexuality,” she said.
I'll put it out there again, so let it really, really sink in. In our culture homosexuality is to sex as heterosexuality is to romance.

I don't think that this assessment could be more true. When I saw Weekend, I can admit that my initial reaction was definitely to view it as more sexual in nature than romantic. I undoubtedly saw the romantic side...I'm not sure you could miss it...but the sex stood out to me all the more. Now, don't get me wrong. I didn't make up the sexualization. It's there, at times graphic.

But still I had to question myself. Would my impression have been the same if it had been a hetero couple? I have a sinking suspicion that it wouldn't have been. This cultural narrative is pretty pervasive, so much so that it is into the mind of allies like me. And I would say that it is particularly strong against gay men. Because romance is traditionally associated with femininity, a relationship which contains no women seems to be labeled mostly about fucking and not so much about romance.

One of the things that I loved most about Weekend was that it was so aware of what it was doing. One of the main characters, Glen, asks the other, Russell, about how often he sees true representations of gay life in the media. Glen pushes further, asserting that it's almost never because they wouldn't want to "scare the straights." But then, this film, becomes the very thing that Glen wants to see more of.

It is raw, real, and wonderful. I don't think that I would have truly appreciated it if I hadn't been reminded by Ms. Chaisson above that my brain has been conditioned to view things a certain way.

I'll leave with an except from Brian Moylan's review of the film, because I think he's spot on.

This is a modern gay movie, with the woes of coming out and AIDS far in the background and no one having to be a martyr like in Brokeback Mountain or Milk. Everything is normalized but it still isn't comfortable, with men combating not only with acceptance but also the ennui of perpetual Grindr hookups. But it is also a modern movie, devoid of the usual Hollywood trappings and instead creating something moving and deep out of snappy dialogue, real life situations, and brilliant performances...

1 comment:

  1. Y'know what I would like to see? I want to see a bad Katherine Heigl style rom-com about a gay couple. As unrealistic and poorly made as these kinds of films are, I feel like they're so pervasive that making one about a gay romance would go a long way to normalizing homosexual relationships within our society.


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