My husband and I went to the movies on a Saturday night. We went to see Love is Strange, which is being sold as the Hollywood “old gay couple” movie of the summer.
We walk into the theater about fifteen minutes before the start of the show. In the tiny audience, we spot older male/female couples (whom we assume are heterosexual) and a lonely middle age man sitting apart –whom we label a gay man. “Hum, interesting,” we wonder. We sit with our popcorn and drinks on hand. More people walk in as the previews roll: one middle age or senior heterosexual couple after the other. We become curious, checking out every soul in the theater. “Are we the only gay couple?” My husband is freaking out. “Yes, honey, we have become irrelevant.”
Time passes and we get nervous. The movie will start soon and there only three gay people in the theater. My husband gets up: “Let’s make sure we are in the right theater.” I open my Fandango app in my iPhone to double check. This is not a mistake. The lights dim. Then we see two guys (pretty sure they are gay, but perhaps not a couple) walk in. We want to wave at them: “C’mon boys, sit here, this is the gay row!” Another two guys walk in soon after; that’s it.
In a strange cinematic-like twist, we were the minority (again, or still). The gay-themed movie was a product of heterosexual culture – for the pleasure of mainstream audiences. I remembered a similar, but lesser, effect with Brokeback Mountain (2005): heterosexual audiences filling up movie theaters. We, gay people, in Hollywood movies, are not threatening. We are likeable and even lovable – especially if we are the loving-couple-type or the vulnerable-asexual-senior-citizen-type. And Hollywood movies at times mirror reality.
This wasn’t the movie my husband and I came to watch, in more than one way. Maybe we were naïve. We left wondering what was “gay” about the movie.