I should be writing and I will do that after this. I've had this one seen with two characters in my head for a while and I need to get it out. Too bad they are not in the current WIP because that would help get it done! grrr. Darn muses coming and going as they please.
Anyway… what I have to say might date me, but many of you have met me in person so it is not too surprising how old I am. And some of you may have read my contribution to Kage Alan's "Face of Gay", so perhaps what I will tell you about my impression of the movie will not completely shock you. IDK.
I'm not gay. Until I saw Brokeback Mountain in 2006, I had never thought of "Gay" in a context beyond sex. And even those thoughts came well into my 20's because as a youth, I never knew anyone attracted to the same sex. I was in middle school and high school when this AIDS epidemic was going on and yet I do not remember any of it at all. The dates during the movie shocked me the most. When the movie started, it was set in 1981. I was in 8th grade. I remember a cute boy named Chris Neidlinger and his friend who had red hair. (His name might have been Morris.) Chris was adorable and I was too shy to talk to him. I didn't know any homosexuals back then. In 1982 I entered high school. I was terribly shy and not really good at any sports or academic classes, but I coasted along just fine.
I lived in Maryland. The Normal Heart was set in NY. I heard nothing and knew nothing of AIDS. The movie rolls on to 1983 and 1984 with a stunning performance by Mark Raffalo. He was pushy and determined even though no one wanted to listen. And Matt Bomer…. what a beautiful actor. He wasted away in front of me. Yes, I cried, but not as much as you might think. I think it was because I was thinking about the movie and I kind know what the outcome was. I was analyzing it and that kept me more detached than usual. In 84/85 I was a junior, and then in Sept 1985 when President Reagan speaks publicly about AIDS for the first time, (I think that's what the movie credits said. Here is a link to the NY Times) I was a senior in high school. I heard nothing of this back then.
I suppose I was rather naive and sheltered. Although, I did find my dad's porn when I was 12. I was not completely in the dark, yet I truly knew nothing. I don't remember understanding what the word FUCK meant until maybe 10th grade. My family never talked about anything. Times are different now, but back then…. I really had no clue. So when it comes to gay rights and AIDS and what a homosexual was???? If you asked me I probably would have said, "I don't know," And meant it. I didn't know anything.
I turned 18 in 1986. I graduated high school. I started college and pretty much failed out because I couldn't handle all the work. I hated home work. I started working in a restaurant. (And the restaurant knowledge will appear someone where in the near future publication…. *ahem "NAMES"….. La dee da, life went by, and I didn't know anything or hear anything about AIDS. So the accusations in the movie are very well founded. News was not being spread.
At this point I did meet one girl who was in a relationship with a woman. I didn't handle it well. I had a radical-church, Westboro baptist, thing going on back then. Some things I deeply regret, but also circumstances that have helped shape who I am now. I wish I could apologize to her. (As well as to another, non-gay couple I met whom I also disagreed with similarly, yet different.) I suppose I was a bitch and didn't know how to be kind. I'm glad I am not that person any longer…. anyway….. While in school I didn't know this health crisis was on going and being ignored for so many years. It saddens me.
Until I had sent the movie BENT, I had no idea there were concentration camps for gays. I thought it was only Jewish people who were rounded up. Shows you what schools teach, or DON'T teach. And, btw, BENT has one of the best sex scenes ever written in my opinion and there isn't even nudity. :p I am glad for these movies that people dare to write because it DOES OPEN EYES to the things in the world that really shouldn't be ignored. Mainly: Human Rights.
What The Normal Heart shows in humanity. People fighting for their right to live. In this case, gay men. The main character's point to his brother is that they are the same. Ned wants to be seen as a man just like any other man. He has a normal heart, and wants to be loved like a person. And he falls in love so hard. Ned and Felix do what many, if not every, couple does. They laugh. They eat ice-cream. They watch TV. They argue. They sleep. They watch their friends die. Maybe the last one is not 'normal' for most couples, but I can tell you I have seen way too many people die in my life. One of the worst was my husband's 19yr old cousin. Then I remember a 21 yr old co-worker. Another cousin who was under 22 but I don't remember her age. Way too young to die. But none of them died of AIDS. None of the people I have seen die, had to go through an unpredictable and often vicious disease. I was a terrible experience.
So what am I left with to sum up my thoughts before I forget why I started my post…. Um, basically, I wish every straight person who has a "problem" with "Those gays!" would watch this movie because it puts a perspective on watching those you love DIE. Most people can relate to that, even if your "loved one" is a parent and not a lover or spouse. Being intimately close to a person who is dying is a horrible position to be in and often, the other person leaves. Think about it. To stand by and watch a spouse die of cancer, how easy would it be to just walk away and protect yourself from the pain. People do it. I'm not saying it is right, but they do. OR, they stay, yet cheat on their spouse because they are too sick to notice. People can be awful. Ned sticks buy Felix through it all. Why? Because he loves him. Why do any of us do the impossible things in life? LOVE dives people much harder and stronger than fear.
I guess in the 80's perhaps being homosexual was still looked on as a disease itself? Ned, in the movie referred to going to a "change" counselor and I know there were and probably still are "change camps". No body wanted to help the gays because they were a "sick" group anyway. If more people took a stand like Ned, what would have happened then? Would it have been like the one character commented where gays fell back into fear and gave up the rights they fought so hard to find? I don't know. Maybe that's why the pushback is so hard now. Gay rights are hitting hard because people are tired of being oppressed for the right to love another human being. It isn't about sex. It isn't about a sexual revolution as mentioned in the movie. Just about 20 years later and people are being seen as PEOPLE. Maybe if the government had taken this seriously back then, people would have been seen as equal sooner. Another I don't know. I'm just thinking out loud.
What the movie made me think about was all the people I know now! The couples I know who have been together for 20 years. Some are my age. They probably weren't in the battle of the 80's, but only just out of HS like me. How much had you all heard in the news? Were you gay in a state that it was dangerous to be yourself? How did it impact you? I can not imagine to sorrow people went through watching their friends die like that. I'd like to think that if it happened now, I'd be that woman who showed up and Tommy told her to help with the phones. I can answer phones.
Right now, I guess persecution still exists but in different forms. Like that boy Michael who was bullied for loving My Little Pony. Paul Richmond did a huge thing for him with the You Will Rise Project. People are out there loving people unconditionally, they are simply a small voice overshadowed by all the hate in the world. Thankfully, the voice is growing stronger ever day.
So really, another point I can throw out there, is that the human rights movement can be "NEW NEWS" to many. I grew up knowing absolutely nothing about AIDS. So all those straight people who seem clueless, might actually be clueless. Unless people like some I know now take that stand, there are plenty of people going through life not knowing anything about the persecution the LGBTQ crowd goes through. It's true.
I guess that is what I have to say. Not sure much of it makes sense. Thanks Jeff, for sharing your thoughts on the movie. I'm glad toy know you and call you friend. I'm glad I am not the same persona I was at 19. I'm glad movies like this can be made to educate the rest of the "straight" world on things that were never taught in school. And I will continue to bring my thoughts on things to this blog and to my books. I think about life, and I write about what I know. I know ME best. And as most of my characters ARE me, you will see the characters acting out my own personal views whether they are political, religious, or otherwise. Being GAY doesn't happen to someone "over there who is diseased and sick and doesn't matter to me", it is a reality right here in my back yard, in the eyes of people I love. I can't be detached as with a movie. Therefore, little by little and I finding my own voice and joining in a battle for human rights. Because if it was my friend, or my spouse, I'd fight for them. Love is stronger than any fear. I am no longer the quiet, shy, voiceless little girl who was cruel to people she didn't understand. These last few years have fought me to be BOLD and stand strong because I have something to say. Change takes time, so bear with me.
I see myself as a bridge. Is that weird? Are you not liking me know because I'm being all philosophical? There are plenty of people who ponder that question: Why do straight women write gay romance? The answer is different for all. I kind of fell into it. I have a friend who is gay and I wrote him a romance for fun. It was good enough to be published and voila, I am here. but why I continue is because I had friends who were persecuted for being gay. And then I was put under painful scrutiny and I wasn't gay. I could not sit by and let things like that happen. When Love Is Not Enough was born out of pain. I write the pain of culture in my world because I believe it needs to be heard. Just like watching this movie. Some things need to be told for those who haven't heard of it.
My message to those being persecuted: You are not alone. AND, one day the persecution will stop. Human Rights matter. People matter.
And if I can quote from myself… LOL…. “I don’t think sin is as black and white as people want it to be. I think sin comes in an array of colors, and one of them is so bright that it blinds us to our ability to love. And if I don’t think I can love you just because you’re gay, then Satan wins; because without love, the only color left is hate.” My Roommate's a Jock? Well, Crap!
And if I can add one other thing…. Congratulations to TJ Klune for the Lambda Literary Award. Well deserved!
You all wanted me to write more. I will try to keep up the posting. I often think I am boring, but I suppose Karen made me see that it doesn't matter. She and her friends from France were happy just to meet me, boring or not. Therefore, I will continue to write!
PS: for all those I put on the subscribe list who didn't want to be - sorry. and for those who think I forgot, oops. The emails were hard to read and my little red papers got shuffled so I need to get back to them.
That is all. later! Off to write………...