Recently, there have been several movies centered around homosexuality and homosexual relationships that have been great successes. Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins, received critical praise for portraying the difficulties faced by an African-American gay man in a culture that rejects homosexuality. Similarly, Love, Simon was released to both commercial and critical success, as it detailed the struggle of the titular character Simon, as he attempted to come out to his friends and family. Recent releases Carol and Disobedience are both about gay women who repress their love for each other.
While all of these movies are very powerful and are successful in getting their messages across (a few even brought a tear to my eye), these popular movies both have a bit of a worrying commonality: they are all about the struggle of being gay rather than celebrating sexuality.
Don’t get me wrong, these movies are important and there certainly is a place for movies like these, but it is also important to have movies that portray LGBT+ people in a positive and normal light. Why aren’t there romantic comedies with gay people? Why aren’t there movies with queer representation that aren’t about the characters being queer?
Movies like this would provide positive representation for members of the community. A movie that shows gay love flourishing would be invaluable to many members of the LGBT+ community that are struggling with their sexuality. The movies don’t have to be a mirror of real-life struggles but instead can be a view of what life could be like for LGBT+ people.
Many people have fought LGBT+ representation in movies and it is admittedly a difficult thing to do. An argument I have heard is that “you can’t just have a character randomly say ‘hey I’m gay’” which is fair, but you can actually have casual commentary that actually works. You can have a man say a line like “one of my ex-boyfriends…” or woman refer to her wife. Another way could be as simple as a queer character making a joke about their sexuality (which is a very common thing in the LGBT+ community by the way) which would simply tell the audience about a character’s sexuality without making it a big deal.
An interesting recent example of this is Call Me by Your Name. This movie does a lot of what I’ve been talking about. The main character Elio falls for another man, Oliver, over the course of a summer and his sexuality is never explicitly addressed in the movie. No real coming out scene, no “I can’t be falling for a man” scene. This movie could be about anyone, gay or straight. While the movie does still have a tragic ending, it is a good example of how to make a movie featuring LGBT+ love that isn’t about it being LGBT+.
In the end, the most important thing to work towards is accepting that LGBT+ people are normal and an equal part of society. This should be reflected in film by having stories about characters who are gay, that are not about them being gay, and also by having some movies that aren’t about gay characters have gay characters in them, playing the same roles a straight might play.