Thinking more about a post I made yesterday over on FB about the new queer film, Sublet, and it led me back to my complicated reaction to Call Me By Your Name. Which I enjoyed when I first saw it, but have cooled on since then. Because, for while it does feature around two men who fall in love and have man sex, I don’t think of it as a queer film at all. The book was written by a straight guy, the film was directed by a straight guy. And the lead actors were two straight guys. But more than that, the relationship literally comes out of nowhere. And that doesn’t jibe at all with what queerness is to me. My queerness was there pretty much from birth. I was never really in the closet as much as I was in denial. I took shit from other kids and other grownups my whole life. For the things I enjoyed, the way I talked, for just existing. I knew there was something different early on. It was there in how I identified more with women characters than little boys were supposed to. It suffused everything I was. I was even physically assaulted for it, though, thankfully, not severely. My queer identity has evolved in the ways I understand it, but it has literally always been there.
Call Me By Your Name has what they want us to believe is a grand passion literally come out of nowhere. Two “straight acting” (yes, I hate that phrase too) men, who have never thought of loving another man for even an instant fall in love.
Okay. I guess. But I want movies and stories from people who lived queerness. Who fought for it, bled for it. Lived it with every fibre of their being. Who have gone through it and are finding a way to navigate the world and their relationships and all the ways that queerness informs one’s very being. And I’m unsure most of the time if straight creators have the knowledge and equipment to tell those stories properly. I want more queer creators telling queer stories in more queer ways.
I would never shame an actor for taking a role. Acting is what they do, how they pay the bills, and it’s a fickle career that can end at any time. (unless we’re talking trans roles. No cis actors in trans roles. That promotes the stereotypes and attitudes that hurt trans people.) I just want the industry to give more and more voice and opportunities to queer voices.
Our stories matter. And how they are told, and by whom, is crucial to them being told well.