I’m thinking a lot this morning about a scene in a movie I saw when I must have been quite young.
I was maybe 8 years old…or 9 or possibly 10 years old.
In 1984 the first Police Academy film was released and in it there was a scene, I believe, where the song “Will you love me tomorrow” features.
Maybe I saw this film on TV or somewhere around that time I even think video was a possibility.
This song has stayed with me. I remember being very touched by it. It’s a great song written by Carol King and her partner in life and music at the time Gerry Goffin.
But my memory of the song is somewhat clouded by the scene in the movie in which it is featured.
I can’t remember the exact details…but somehow two characters in the film are tricked into visiting a gay bar and for some reason they stay there and end up slow dancing with two leather men in the bar.
I have no idea what I thought at the time. I’m pretty sure it is one of the first times I ever saw two men in a romantic situation. That is, two men being gay.
I have a sense of it being tender and gentle.
But that wasn’t exactly what it was.
It was a scene where two men were forced into being tender and gentle with other men. I didn’t see two gay men dancing together I saw a gay man holding a straight man who was so scared for some reason he couldn’t leave or simply say no he didn’t want to dance.
And that is somewhat confusing.
When I was growing up that is where we were. Being gay was a punchline. A joke. Something no real man wanted to be caught in the arms of. Which is actually progress from it being something that could not be spoken of. Honestly being a joke in a terrible film in the 80’s probably laid the ground work for people being able to talk more openly about sexuality.
I get that.
But I can’t pretend that this was a particularly good way for me to be exposed to what it might mean to be gay.
I can’t pretend that this movie, or the scene in Fame where the gay character wants to kill himself because he is abomination, or the 60 minutes program demonising gay man in Sydney getting and spreading AIDS around to the community, or the infamous grim reaper Ads of the 80’s that told me every person I slept with would give me AIDS…I can’t pretend that these were particularly good ways for me to learn about love.
But somehow, I did learn about love.
I learnt that love is love.
That didn’t just happen.
People fought, and some died, to make it so that my love doesn’t have to be a repressed secret. Clandestine. Dirty. Hidden. Dark.
To make it possible for me to love who I love.
My solace is that today gay characters are much more common and are much more likely to look and act like real people.
And that’s a good thing.
We’ve got a long way to go.
Growing up gay or lesbian or by or queer or transgender or gender non-conforming in any way is still a tough gig. We have made some ground, but I worry that it is ground that could be easily lost if we allow narrowness and fear and bigotry to lead us in how we view the world.
So, let’s not do that.
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