Tonight is setting up to be the queerist Oscars in history.
In honor of the biggest night in Hollywood, Hope Manley offers up a reflection on the representation of queerspawn in two Oscar-nominated films: Brokeback Mountain and Transamerica.
"It isn’t often kids with l/g/b/t parents see ourselves on Hollywood’s silver screen, so I was recently thrilled to see us twice in the same week. Flashes of my girlhood, my emotions, my family up on the screen popcorn and soda in hand at my local cineplex."
Read Hope's whole essay by clicking the link below.
Twice in one week: Queerspawn on the big screen
by Hope Manley
It isn’t often kids with l/g/b/t parents see ourselves on Hollywood’s silver screen, so I was recently thrilled to see us twice in the same week. Flashes of my girlhood, my emotions, my family up on the screen popcorn and soda in hand at my local cineplex.
“Transamerica” and “Brokeback Mountain” are the two movies I saw. “Transamerica” is by far the weaker of the two movies but it has a much larger focus on the queerspawn character. The movie centers on the parent child relationship of a young man and his male to female transsexual parent. Unfortunatly he doesn’t find out who his parent is, the person he has been searching for, longing for, until painfully late in the movie. The trans-parent’s motives to hide both her identity as a trans-person and as the child’s parent are completely self serving and end up in akward confusion and ultimately destructive anger from the son.
The movie takes a pass on the opportunity to show the range of emotion queer parents and their children go through. Coming out is a whole family experience, grounded in the knowledge that all family members are deeply connected, for better or worse. By delaying the coming out revelation until so late in the movie, from a queerspawn perspective, the movie is relegated to a pre-coming out story and for most of us the story only starts there.
“Brokeback Mountain” goes a whole other route, in this epic, passionate story beautifully executed, there are three children, two from a divorcing family and one from a family where the parents stay together despite the on-going relationship between the fathers. But only silence from them. Heartbreaking silence as the children observe first hand a conflict that will affect them all their lives.
"Brokeback Mountain" is is a tough movie for kids of queer divorce to see. It cracks open all the passion our fathers tried to keep contained andout of our sight, and puts on display all the pain our mothers suffered and a few ways some of them coped.
Authenticy is hard to come by, it can be risky and it can be painful. Hiding is a choice, keeping secrets is a choice and the consequences of these choices are no less destructive when they are centered on ones gender or sexuality. A strong argument can be made for self-preservation, and society's role is oppressing difference, true enough. I know I have used it many times to justify my own father's behavior, dissappearing on solo trips several times a year, not showing affection to my Mom, or setting an example of how to live in a long term loving relationship for me and my sister. Yet, if it is also true that one person can make a difference (think Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk) then imagine the impact of thousands of people NOT making a difference and the ripple effects on generations to follow.
Both movies represented different extremes in the queerspawn experience yet both denied the reality that being queer is a family affair. Being different affects all members in ones life, especially those closest whether they are your wife and children ("Brokeback Mountatin") or your parents and siblings ("Transamerica"). Our parents are our models not only for how to live but how to love, and you can't learn from a model who out of town.