More than two dozen men and women of various backgrounds, ages, and races talk to the camera about being gay. Their stories are arranged in loose chronology: early years, fitting in (which ...
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More than two dozen men and women of various backgrounds, ages, and races talk to the camera about being gay. Their stories are arranged in loose chronology: early years, fitting in (which for some meant marriage), disclosing their sexuality, establishing adult identities, and reflecting on how things have changed and how things should be. Some speak as couples and some as singles. One lost her children in a custody decision, one was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army, two were sent to insane asylums. All see social progress as they reflect. News footage and a few vocal performances provide breaks as topics shift. Written by
I saw this 1977 pre-AIDS documentary on TCM this week. I had never heard of it and found it remarkable.
So many positive things stick out: The fact that none of the participants are angry or overly resentful; the fact that they are all candid, non-delusional and totally open to the questions; the fact that they are at their ease; the fact that they can tell everything about their past experience and still have hope in the future in spite of some occasional twangs of nostalgia for their "underground" life and of pain at what they have endured. I can't imagine (in a SF alternate universe), straight people being so forgiving if heterosexuality had been persecuted for thousands of years.
But the thing I found the most remarkable is that all the participants are so lucid and very articulate. Even the ones that are not scholarly (like the two women living as a farming couple in the country) express themselves in a clear, concise and honest manner. The same can be said of the few "flamboyant" gays. What they say ultimately makes sense, in spite of their expressiveness and their love of hyperbole. This kind of faculty for expressing the truth or simply communicating in a direct manner has totally disappeared from most of the gays I know today. It's as if these troubled times on the cusp of new era made people more intelligent and perceptive. Now that homosexuality is "more or less" accepted (except by inbred small-town Republicans), gay people seem to have lost some of that lucidity and that is very sad. Or maybe Americans have just gotten dumber as a whole with the influence of movies, television and video games and the loss of basic literacy due to a degrading education system. I'm just saying... It's interesting to note in that respect that the IMDb user ratings show that this film doesn't "connect" as much with the younger generations as it does with older viewers.
On the other hand, there is absolutely no reference by any of the participants to any concept, reality or news from outside the U.S. (except for a few insights on growing up Asian and gay or Black and gay), which to a non-American of today like myself, may seem strange. There are also very few references to the influence of the media. Even the most inarticulate, delusional, and misinformed gays of today know they live in a global media-controlled universe and can compare themselves to other parts of the world. But that is just another sign of the times, I guess. Today's young people take the global village for granted and that may not necessarily make them more intelligent, more self-aware or more informed about anything. And gay liberation was perhaps (arguably) first and foremost a North-American phenomenon, made possible by relative prosperity, democracy and the access to higher education.
The only things that can bring a smile or a wince today are the conscious and/or unconscious role-playing of some of the lesbian couples and the few mentions of "lesbian separatism" by some of the participants. But that is - and has always been - something for the feminists to analyze. And who's to say the male-male couples wouldn't have exhibited just as much butch-femme role-playing if they had actually been shown more?
In conclusion, I like the way the participants - despite all the rhetoric - mostly come off as thinking individuals first and gays second.
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