Showing posts with label Homophobia in Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homophobia in Movies. Show all posts

October 26, 2018

A Funny Thing Happened When Rami Malek Was Asked if Freddy Mercury Was Gay Then Homophobia Leaked Out!!

Rami Malek, who plays singer Freddie Mercury in the new Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, was asked in a recent interview with Into whether he sees Mercury as a gay icon. His roundabout answer likely won’t do much to assuage fears that the new film “straight-washes” Mercury’s story and dismisses his queerness
“What’s really great about him is he never, uh, wanted to, or thought of himself as being boxed into anything,” Malek said. “He just was. ... He says, ‘I’m just me.’ So ‘icon,’ I think encompasses, whatever the way you identify, I think. If he’s an icon to one there’s no reason that it requires another adjective, as far as I see.”

The new film 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is yet to be released yet there's been controversy around the de-queering of Freddie Mercury.

We asked Rami Malek, what they think about it all but we're still confused 
Over the course of his life, Mercury had many relationships with men, although by all accounts he made his relationship with Mary Austin – who he once called the love of his life — central even as he had long-term gay relationships. As Into reported, Mercury never officially “came out,” but his queerness was well known to people around him. His stage presence as the frontman of Queen was undeniably flamboyant — and the song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” from which the new film borrows its title, was seen by some as a “coming out” song, as the Advocate reported in 2016. 
Mercury died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1991 — so it’s impossible to know how he might have identified his own sexuality by today’s standards. But from the moment the first trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody dropped in May, some feared that his well-known and documented queerness was being left out of the story.
A new trailer was released in July that seemed to contain more allusions to Mercury’s queerness and references to his eventual death from complications caused by AIDS.  
But Malek’s halfhearted answer to the question of whether or not he sees Mercury as a gay icon may again concern fans who fear that Mercury’s sexuality isn’t getting the spotlight it deserves. Bohemian Rhapsody hits theaters on Nov. 2.   

October 17, 2018

Homophobes Wants Netflix to Drop a Series with Some Gay Characters- Netflix Says No time for Homophobia

Netflix has no time for homophobia. 

The streaming giant recently shared a photo on Instagram of same-sex couple Omar and Ander from their new hot property Elite, a Spanish TV series which follows the culture clash as three working-class teens enrol in an exclusive private school.
“The only thing I want is to be with you,” Netflix captioned the photo, alongside the hashtag #Omander, which is the ‘ship’ name that viewers have given to the adorable couple. 
While fans of the show have been rooting for the fictional relationship, some bigoted trolls took offence at the image, and began leaving homophobic comments on the post – but it didn’t take long for Netflix to hit back hard.
“Get the fuck off my Instagram. Not ever[y] person on the planet is gay. You are trying way to hard,” wrote one anti-gay Instagram user.
So how did Netflix respond? With hundreds of rainbow emoji and the comeback: “Sorry couldn’t read your comment while surrounded by all these beautiful rainbows.”

Gay Times UK

August 21, 2018

Straight Actors Play Gay Characters But Gay Actors are Held Over For Gay Parts, What's Wrong With This Pic?

 Playing gay Jack together with girl friend

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

"It's complicated," sighs Peppermint. "Talented actors, casting directors, and everyone involved in the making of art should feel free to create in the way they see fit. In a perfect world, anyone would be able to play anything." 
I'm talking to Peppermint—the first transgender woman to create a major role in a Broadway musical, Head Over Heels—because, once again, the question of cis/straight actors taking LGBTQ parts has hit the headlines, this time sparked by English comedian Jack Whitehall reportedly being cast in Jungle Cruise(which apparently isn't a gay porno). He's set to play Disney's first major gay character, despite being a heterosexual man. 
It's not the first time such a decision has been made by Hollywood: Just last month it was reported that Scarlett Johansson was set to star in the upcoming film Rub & Tug, playing a trans man (she later dropped out of the project). Nearly all the lead gay characters in 2008 movie Milk—a biopic of legendary gay rights activist Harvey Milk—were played by straight men. In The Danish Girl, Eddie Redmayne played the lead, a trans woman. The list continues. 
There's often outrage from queer folk when such announcements are made, but to outsiders, the reason for the upset is not always so obvious. Acting, by definition, is about transforming into a character; it's not about who you actually are. Polling from YouGov this week confirms that many share this view, with 70 percent of the British public seeing no issue with a straight person taking the first leading gay role in a Disney blockbuster. 
"I do really think, ideally, anyone should be able to play a perfect part for them," Peppermint continues, "but right now, gay, trans, and queer people need to participate in the telling of their own stories. Hollywood has a terrible history of creating movies and making money off the experiences of marginalized people, without letting them have any input in the process."
To Peppermint, it's firstly a question of authenticity, not just in who gets to play a queer part, but how that part is written, developed, presented, and performed: "We need to recognize that art plays a role in how marginalized people are treated and viewed by society. A lot of the time, Hollywood makes these stories about queer, trans, and minority folks and they get it wrong: there's offensive material, tragic storylines, one-dimensional, stereotypical characters with little depth." (See 2015 flop Stonewall for evidence.)
Peppermint at RuPaul's Dragcon. Photo: dvsross / CC By 2.0
Actor Nick Westrate agrees: "There's such a wealth of behavior, cultural history, and experiences that, as a queer person, you just know. As a straight person, there's so much you might miss, which years of research won't ever prepare you for." Gay people grow up learning how to assume straight characteristics, says Nick, as for them, code-switching is often a means of survival. "Our entire lives are sometimes premeditated on playing a straight person," he tells me. "Straight people playing gay might well do their research and watch Ru Paul's Drag Race, but they just can’t access the same depth of knowledge."
There's clearly a worry about the way queer characters are portrayed on stage or screen, but each actor I speak to makes it clear their concerns extend beyond just making great art: LGBTQ characters are often some of the only queer people visible in media, and with that platform comes great responsibility. When Rebecca Root was cast as the lead in BBC Two sitcom Boy Meets Girl, both she and the show made history. When it debuted, in 2015, it was the first comedy/drama series on British TV with such a major role for a transgender character played by a trans actor. "I know the idea of being a role model doesn't always sit comfortably with everyone," Rebecca tells me, "but I'm not unhappy with that label. It's just about being seen—saying, 'That's me, and you too can do what I do.' Real representation isn't just about seeing a character you can relate to; it's about seeing real people working at the highest of level of the industry."
"Most people have never met a trans person, and many kids won't have knowingly met a gay person," says Peppermint. "There's immeasurable value in inspiring youth when you feel ostracized, outcast, or different. Seeing people like yourself thriving is huge, both for queer people, but also their friends and family." And, Peppermint adds, a cis man playing a trans woman, who then takes the wig off and appears at a premiere as a guy with a beard, only reinforces the dangerous narrative that trans women are men, not women. 
A gay actor could use the platform of a Disney movie to speak about their own experiences, advance LGBTQ equality and be a visible queer figure for so many young people. Jack Whitehall, through no fault of his own, just can't do that. 
While there's clearly rationale in casting queer for queer parts, there are practical realities of the industry to consider too. Casting directors are under pressure to hire who they see as the best fit for a part, and asking someone about their sexuality when they walk into an audition hardly seems a sign of progress. "My job is very much to get the right person for the right role," explains Amanda Tabak, a casting director based in London. "We would never ask someone's sexuality when they walk in the door—it's not relevant." 
Amanda is clear that if there's a part for a Chinese person, putting up someone who isn't Chinese would be pointless (although whoever castScarlett Johansson as a Japanese character in Ghost in the Shell clearly didn't see this as such a problem). "People's sexualities aren’t written on their chest," Amanda says. "It's not that which dictates whether you’re getting a job or not."
It's a perspective that actor Giovanni Bienne—the chair of acting union Equity's LGBT+ committee—can only half-sympathize with. Giovanni feels expectations of LGBTQ actors in auditions are different to those of their cis, straight counterparts. "I don't go out for a straight romantic love interests a lot, but my agent said they thought it would help—if I were to—for me to stay in character during the chat afterward," he says, adding that he's heard that casting directors like his readings, but ask if could he keep "it" up? "That just doesn't happen to straight actors. Sean Penn didn't audition for Milk, but if he had, they wouldn't have him blow the casting team away, and then be told that he couldn't keep the 'gay' up afterward."
Giovanni accepts that with lesser-known actors their sexuality might not be known to whoever is casting, but non-LGBTQ actors can, too, help level the playing field. "A friend of mine called me recently saying he was being seen for a gay part, but it didn't feel right," he says. "I said go out for it, this is how it is, it's about whether we get the same opportunities. In the end, in an effort to support us, he decided not to."
Another point raised time and time again by those struggling to comprehend the Whitehall rage is that, ultimately, entertainment is a business. "A-list actors playing LGBTQ roles brings awareness, but they also get people though the doors to see a film," says Amanda Tabak. But after a generation of gay actors were lost to the AIDS crisis, maybe the industry has a responsibility to help make those new stars in the first place, and to make Hollywood a less hostile place to be openly gay. "If we hear a straight person gets a queer part because someone is a bankable star, we've just lost another chance for that person to make a name as a queer person," says Nick. "It's simple."
Clearly, the casting of Jack Whitehall as Disney's first gay character isn't in and of itself the problem, however much of a missed opportunity, or a lazy choice, it might at first seem. The problems are that in casting straight actors in gay roles we're not benefitting from the experience that queer people bring to queer parts, we're not letting queer people tell their own stories, and we're contributing to the woeful lack of IRL Hollywood LGBTQ visibility. 
Not one actor I spoke to thinks only non-straight people should play LGBTQ parts, or vice versa, but that a conscious effort needs to be made by all to help level the playing field. That means accepting that some queer people get written off for straight parts in a way that is imbalanced. It means understanding that LGBTQ people are a minority who need role models. It means not simply saying there isn't a queer star to take a part, but making one. And it means that if Disney is going to make a big deal about creating a gay character, they probably need to make a big deal about casting a gay actor, too. 

August 15, 2018

Disney Is Playing A Bait and Switch with the Public by Putting Out a Straight Jack for The Jungle Cruise

  Jack Whitehall and His Girlfriend Gemma

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to position yourself when it comes to equality. When asked, most of us would say we believe in it, encourage it, expect it. But occasionally a conundrum comes along that seems to have been created only to catch us out or test our perception of what it means to be equal.

As a gay man, and thus an automatic member of the LGBTQ community, I see my right to exist be free questioned on an almost hourly basis thanks to the power of the internet, and I have a crick in my neck from reaching up to the breadcrumbs of equality society has deigned to offer from its withered hand. This is why when it was announced Disney was making The Jungle Cruise, a movie which would feature a character who was “openly gay” – a phrase that in itself makes the idea seem like a sideshow at a carnival rather than a long overdue wrong being righted – I was cautious. The 21st century has taught me to react to ostensibly good news slowly, to wait for the punchline. In this case, it came in the form of the casting of Jack Whitehall, a British comedian and actor well known for his campy, posh-boy routine, including his own sitcom Bad Education, in which he played an effete, unlucky-in-love teacher. Whitehall’s own sexuality is, as far as I know, not confirmed, but until recently he was in a relationship with fellow actor Gemma Chan, so unless he is bi, a default view here would be that he’s straight. And this is where problems begin.
The casting of non-cisgender, queer or LGBTQ roles has been a hot topic recently – Scarlett Johansson became a meme thanks to taking on, before pulling out of, the role of a trans man – and Whitehall’s casting has attracted a great deal of debate, some of it enlightening and considered but mostly witless and hysterical. In the hours after the revelation, knee-jerk reactions and delirious takes from both sides seeped into every corner of the internet like red wine on a white rug. Some say it’s fine for a straight man to play a gay character, while others claim it’s unfair on gay actors, and guess what? They are both right, when talking generally. But this is an exceptional case and much of the debate centring around the Project Fear-esque assertion that “soon only gay actors will be able to play gay characters, so does that mean they can’t play straight any more?!” comes from one key misunderstanding – the true meaning of equality.

Whatever the dictionary might tell you, equality is not about treating everyone exactly the same, at all times. True equality comes from amplifying, raising up and offering opportunities to those whose lives have been blighted by inequality. The ones who have been left behind, ignored, forgotten and have suffered prejudice, unfairness and stereotyping. Levelling the playing field would take centuries of renovations and it’s pointless to pretend otherwise, so instead we make sure those who’ve never felt equality are offered the same chances as those who have historically dominated.
Nobody sensible is saying gay actors can’t play straight any more, or that gay characters can never be played by a heterosexual, but what we are saying is every gay role needs extra consideration – yes, every single one. Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where any modicum of LGBTQ representation is scrutinised by everyone on the spectrum. Is the role doing enough? Is the right person playing it? What impact could this have – negative and positive? Straight roles are ten a penny, they are everywhere, the default. Go count the number of LGBTQ characters in your local multiplex or on TV tonight. You won’t run out of fingers, I imagine.
But it’s also important we give Whitehall a fair hearing. “You’re not gay so you can’t play the role” doesn’t cut it at all, I’m afraid. Instead, let me explain. This is the first major “openly gay” role in a Disney movie. Disney movies have a reach and influence we can barely imagine – it is huge, the Princess Diana of celluloid. Your favourite Disney films carbon-date you. They are part of your childhood, and your children’s, and beyond. Imagine the impact this casting could've had on children, and their parents, if it had been an actual gay or bisexual actor doing the promo trail and talking about the role in relation to his own experience. It’s a sad truth there are fewer gay roles, especially in family movies like this, and having gay actors play them can help normalise the gay experience to a guaranteed global audience. It’s important to acknowledge the impact gay characters, and the people who play them, can have. They’re not like other roles; there is more hope and responsibility attached to them, and this one in particular is a landmark.

There have been complaints the gay character in The Jungle Cruise is very camp and very funny. This I don’t see as much of a problem – camp gay men exist, deal with it. But there is an angle here that a straight man acting out stereotypically gay characteristics on screen while actual gay actors get turned down for roles for not being butch enough or being “too gay” – even for gay roles, by the way – is another sign of imbalance.

And that’s why the casting of Whitehall isn’t appropriate on this occasion – not because of him, or his acting skills, or his race, or any of the low-grade insults you want to pick out of the barrage of unnecessary abuse he’s received over the last two days. It’s because it perpetuates the lopsidedness of LGBTQ representation in an overwhelmingly heterosexual world. This isn’t a personal issue with Jack: he’s a self-confessed Disney nut and this role no doubt means the world to him, so who could blame him for taking the challenge? The problem lies with those making the decisions about the character, and his casting; whatever their background or their intent, their approach needs work. They must read the room.
This role, this chance, this potential for glory, all should have been offered to a gay actor. The character and the audience deserve it.

August 13, 2018

The Film Industry Still An Unfriendly Place for LGBT People (Vancouver Queer Film Festival)

Courtney Dickson · CBC News

Yen Tan's 1985, the first film to be shown at the 30th VQFF, looks back to the year Ronald Reagan publicly acknowledged the AIDS crisis for the first time — after it had already killed more than 5,000 people. (Courtesy of Vancouver Queer Film Festival)

The artistic director of  the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, says the film industry still has a long way to go in terms of providing access and opportunities for marginalized people in the business. 
The presence of LGBT actors and storylines in mainstream film has increased in the last decades, with films such as Call Me By Your Name and A Fantastic Woman winning awards and gaining international attention, said Anoushka Ratnarajah 
However, Ratnarajah, who has screened work by LGBT filmmakers since the festival's inception nearly 30 years ago, said the industry is still an unfriendly place for LGBT people.
"Unfortunately a lot of those stories are still not told by actual queer filmmakers,"  Ratnarajah​ told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's  The Early Edition.
"Queer, trans and two-spirit actors, like filmmakers, directors and scriptwriters, have very little access to opportunities to perform. When they are given parts they're often put in these tokenizing roles that don't explore the full nuance of who we are as people."
The festival was formerly known as the Vancouver Lesbian Film Festival.

A program from the festival's inaugural event in 1989 promoted it as a place to "examine race and class issues and recognize how doubly difficult it is for lesbians of colour and working class lesbians to work as filmmakers because of the frustrating inaccessibility of resources."
Ratnarajah said that goal rings true today.
"Film is traditionally quite an inaccessible art medium," she says. "It's very expensive. Marginalized people like women, queer people, trans people, people of colour, have often been kept out of the film industry by gatekeepers, mostly straight white men."
And, while LGBT stories are being told in popular movies, there are still filmmakers whose works are being missed by the general public. According to Ratnarajah, this is why the film festival remains vital.

Call Me By Your Name was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture. (Mongrel)

"Festivals like ours offer opportunities for artists who don't have as many opportunities to show their films at festivals. A festival showing is really meaningful in the CV of a filmmaker."
The festival runs from Aug. 9 to 19.

May 30, 2018

Transcript of Jason Statham Movie Set Anti Gay Rant Kept Secret

Last week Jason Statham apologized for a homophobic rant he unleashed back in 2015 on the set of the film Wild Card. The Jason Statham apology came after a transcript of this rant was released by associate producer RJ Cipriani. That transcript of the Jason Statham rant reportedly details what he said and involves some very intense language that may be too graphic for some. 


The transcript of the Jason Statham rant allegedly has the actor saying:

Stop acting like a fucking fag. I hate that faggity fucking shit.
You guys are acting like a bunch of fucking faggots.
If you want to tell me something don’t wait till I do 15 fucking takes before you say something. Stop being a fucking fag and be more assertive.
We are here to make a good movie so stop acting like fucking fags.
jason statham rant jason statham apology 2
The backstory of the rant: The manager of Jason Statham (famous for his roles in The TransporterThe Mechanic and The Expendables, and soon to appear in The Meg), Steven Chasman, had reportedly delivered “notes” to Statham regarding his on-camera performance. It was a film about gambling, and Cipriani was a “gambling consultant” on it; his notes were apparently that Statham wasn’t acting like a real gambler would. Statham didn’t like that. So the Jason Statham rant above was directed at his own manager, Chasman. Yes, Jason Statham was ‘shooting the messenger.’
In his apology, Statham says he doesn’t remember the actual rant but says that if it was him it was wrong, and he will learn from his mistakes and do better in the future.

Here’s the Jason Statham apology:

Someone approached me claiming to have a tape of me using terms offensive to the LGBTQ community during a conversation I had with my producing partner, on a movie set five years ago. I have never heard the recording and my multiple requests to hear the recording have been refused. I have no recollection of making any of these offensive comments. However, let me be clear, the terms referenced are highly offensive. If I said these words, it was wrong and I deeply apologize. Anyone who knows me knows it doesn’t reflect how I feel about the LGBTQ community. While I cannot fix what was said in the past, I can learn from it and do better in the future.
But that’s not at all. There’s more to this Jason Statham rant debacle.

jason statham rant jason statham apology 3
Jason Statham

Cipriani reportedly approached the actor’s manager, Chasman, back in December of 2017 (four years after the incident) with the transcripts, asking the action star’s team for something in return in order for him not to release. It sounds like blackmail to us, except Cipriani didn’t want money. He asked that Statham “do something for charity or good causes to make amends.”
Cipriani wanted Jason Statham to take a trip to a hospital and visit with sick children, which the actor agreed to on the grounds that the tape or transcript never be leaked. Cipriani gave the actor three months to make good on his promise.
Statham and his manager wanted Cipriani to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but the producer declined to do so.
The backstory of the rant: The manager of Jason Statham (famous for his roles in The TransporterThe Mechanic and The Expendables, and soon to appear in The Meg), Steven Chasman, had reportedly delivered “notes” to Statham regarding his on-camera performance. It was a film about gambling, and Cipriani was a “gambling consultant” on it; his notes were apparently that Statham wasn’t acting like a real gambler would. Statham didn’t like that. So the Jason Statham rant above was directed at his own manager, Chasman. Yes, Jason Statham was ‘shooting the messenger.’
In his apology, Statham says he doesn’t remember the actual rant but says that if it was him it was wrong, and he will learn from his mistakes and do better in the future.

June 28, 2017

"Moonlight" was a Success But Homophobic Hollywood Makes it Almost Impossible to Make a Gay Movie Today

Hollywood is having an “exclusively gay moment”—a phrase inadvertently coined by director Bill Condon this winter and overblown by media attention. Recent films like Beauty and the Beast and Power Rangers have “broken ground” or “made history”—according to these headlines, anyway—as major Hollywood releases featuring openly queer characters. Unfortunately, their “coming out” scenes have mostly been lost in translation.

“I watched Alien: Covenant and there’s a gay couple in it, and I had no idea,” Spa Night director Andrew Ahn tells Vanity Fair, laughing. “And I look for gay shit all the time. I can’t believe I missed it.”

GLAAD’s fifth annual Hollywood report card confirms that the gay community is still dramatically underrepresented in mainstream movies: just 23 of the 125 films released by studios in 2016 featured LGBTQ characters, and 10 of the 23 gave them less than a minute of screen time. The indie realm has become our primary source for more diversity on screen. It’s what made it possible for Moonlight—a film about a queer person of color—to win the best picture at the Oscars. Yet that space comes with its own complications, as Moonlight director Barry Jenkins has discussed at length.

For someone like Love Is Strange director Ira Sachs, who’s been in the business for more than 25 years, it can feel “next to impossible” to make LGBTQ films. “I’m encouraged by anyone who manages to make a film with LGBTQ content that furthers the visibility,” he says of movies like Moonlight and this year’s Call Me by Your Name, which is already generating awards buzz. “I need the visibility as much as anyone who’s starting or beginning, and as much as the audience. It’s a reminder that it’s not impossible, that I’m wrong to some extent.”

Jamie Babbit, who put herself on the map in 1999 with But I’m a Cheerleader, thought the industry would change when Brokeback Mountain came out in 2005—but she too still runs into the same roadblocks that persisted in the 90s. “It’s sad that the Hollywood corporate machine, which is very much queer as far GLBT working in the industry . . . are still intimidated by the bottom line and worried that people don’t want to watch queer stories when that lesson has been, I thought, learned time and time again.”

LGBT movies are still too often pigeonholed as “niche” entertainment. Justin Kelly had a “heinous realization” to that effect during the first financing meetings for his 2015 film I Am Michael, starring James Franco as a gay man who becomes an anti-gay Christian pastor. Companies would say, “We just did a gay film last year and it didn’t do well.” He recalls thinking, “Would someone say we did a straight film last year and it didn’t do well?”

Eliza Hittman, approaching the genre as a heterosexual filmmaker, was caught off guard by the reaction to her 2017 Sundance selection Beach Rats. She explored “adolescent female obsessions” with her feature debut, It Felt Like Love—but when she took a more masculine approach to the same concept, it was dismissed by casting directors as the one “with all the gay sex.”

“It was a little concerning that that was what people were reacting to,” she says, “because I thought the film had a lot more depth than that. But I think people are a lot more protective of young talent, and I think that there are still stigmas around what kind of roles people should and shouldn’t play.” British actor Harris Dickinson, who stars in Beach Rats, had to ask his representation to back down when they “pushed back very hard against the nudity and the content” of the story. Hittman understands their response to some extent—it’s “their job [to] protect their clients”—but she also believes “there’s still a lot of taboos around male nudity and male sexuality that exist in the film.”

As a trans-Native American woman, Sydney Freeland was told that her 2014 feature Drunktown’s Finest was a “niche of a niche.” She loosely based the concept on her own experience living on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, but many financiers claimed: “there isn’t a market for this, people don’t want to see this, people aren’t interested in this, and so on and so forth.” Ahn, one of the most lauded breakouts of 2016’s Sundance Film Festival, faced similar remarks, which sent him to Kickstarter for his directorial debut about a closeted man in a small Korean-American community. “We couldn’t even get the money to go through preproduction,” he says. 

And though TV generally has a reputation for being riskier and more creator-friendly than film, Babbit—who helmed episodes of The L Word and Looking, among a lengthy list of shows—believes television is also going backward. “I love Transparent and that’s a great show with queer characters, for sure, but there should be 10 of them now,” she says.

Babbit has tried to get three different queer-oriented series off the ground over the past five years. “I’m getting the top meetings with the head of Showtime, the head of Netflix, the head of HBO,” she says. But a green light remains elusive. The closest she came was with an adaptation of Ingrid Jungermann’s web series F to 7th, a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style lesbian comedy that “talks about the queer culture from the inside and makes fun of it.” Showtime ordered a script, but she says the project never moved forward. The general response, she says, was, “Oh, if it’s a lesbian show, is there gonna be a lot of hot sex? It’s such a niche.”

Moonlight grossed $65 million worldwide on a $1.5 million production budget, but the consensus still seems to be that financiers don’t see an audience for these films beyond the LGBTQ community. When they don’t see an audience, they don’t see a profit. When asked to describe the most difficult stage of film development, Sachs doesn’t need to mull his answer. “Capital,” he says. “Very simply, capitalism makes the creation of work for marginalized communities difficult.”

And capital is why Hollywood, despite the presence of LGBTQ executives, still largely considers the visibility of these characters to be a risk. Take Beauty and the Beast, for example. Out of its $1.25 billion gross, $85.8 million came from China, $37.5 million came from South Korea, and $14.6 million came from Russia—territories with censorship laws that can target LGBTQ content. “The tragedy is that in this moment where we think we’re making progress, which we have domestically, there is an erasure in countries like, let’s start with Russia,” Sachs explains. “I used to go to the gay festivals there, and the last time I sent my films there the festivals had bomb scares two or three times—and that’s one stage.”

Kelly calls it “a bit insane” when he’s told before even shooting a queer-leaning film that “it will for sure not sell in these 40 markets,” but he’s also not convinced homophobia is the sole deterrent. He also cites the “tragic state of the indie film world”—and he’s right, to some extent. The market has changed since the early 2000s when studios began pushing these stories to specialty divisions like Focus Features and Fox Searchlight—and giving them smaller budgets. “I’m trying to be realistic instead of just complaining that it’s harder to get gay films made,” Kelly says, “even though it is, and even though it annoys me every day.”

Adding to the headache of financing and distribution is marketing. “There is a way for people to find [LGBTQ films] who have the appetite to find it, but you’re not gonna get the marketing push that all the studio movies get because it’s such big business now,” Babbit says. Films like Moonlight, The Imitation Game, and Carol did get a wide promotion, but they were also awards season contenders. For smaller releases, “yes, you can get distribution on Netflix or Amazon or Sundance Selects, IFC, whatever—but you’re not gonna get any marketing behind it,” Babbit explains.

And that’s assuming a film is actually screened in theaters—because as Ahn learned with Spa Night, “once you get a distributor, it’s not like you’re guaranteed to play theaters. The theaters themselves have to choose what they want to screen, and I had no idea that’s how it worked.”

The home turf war continues with the MPAA. Love Is Strange reignited questions of homophobia when the film, starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, was branded with an R-rating for strong language. “That film couldn't be more appropriate for a young audience,” Sachs says. The R-rating for 2014’s Pride, the story of gay activists teaming up with striking miners in 1984 Wales, incited a similar controversy, and Harvey Weinstein very publicly contested the rating (and won) for this year’s 3 Generations, about a trans teenager. 

“I’d find friends of mine with 15-year-old kids not taking them to the movie [because] they assumed the content would somehow be disruptive to their children because of the R-rating,” Sachs recalls of his experience, “which was just kind of tragic on some level.” The director objects to the way the rating board operates: “Literally, the members of the MPAA had to be married people to represent a kind of family value,” he says, referring to a point made in Kirby Dick’s 2006 documentary about the MPAA, This Film Is Not Yet Rated. “This is disgusting.”

It’s still possible to find support for queer stories in the industry. Ahn, for one, points to Marcus Hu, an openly gay executive at Strand Releasing who advocated for his film. But if not for Sachs’s “alternate universe” of individuals he could rely upon outside the traditional filmmaking sphere, he would not have been able to make Love Is Strange. In fact, all of these directors found hope by building their own worlds and finding their own audiences. Ahn, Freeland, and Hittman were supported through fellowship programs like the Sundance Labs and Cinereach, while Kelly forged his own path with the blessing of Gus Van Sant, with whom he worked on 2008’s Milk. He’s teaming up with James Franco once more for a biopic of J.T. LeRoy.

As a member of Queer Art, non-profit supporting LGBTQ voices in film, visual arts, performance, and literature, Sachs is trying to create this sort of universe on a systematic level. “I think what is important—and is still possible—is that artists take risks, and those risks are both personal and financial. And to be brave enough to take risks is what has created a history of queer cinema,” he says.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the mainstream that’s going to do the work,” Ahn notes of LGBTQ representation. “I think it’s more a grassroots-y thing, and it just has to keep building and building.” When it comes to seeing real change in mainstream Hollywood, he predicts, “I think there has to be a couple more Moonlights.”

    Vanity Fair

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