If you’ve seen any blockbuster gay-themed movies in 2011 you’ll notice that not one film from Beginners to J. Edgar portrays gay sex openly. It is done in the dark and behind closed doors. Why could that be?
Illustrating gay sex is the last Hollywood taboo that directors are seemingly frightened to cross. Even as many sitcom stars including Ellen DeGeneres, gay co-creator of Will & Grace Max Mutchnick, & Queer’s Peter Paige have come out of the closet, Hollywood still portrays the sexual man as completely sexless.
Gay marriage over the years has become more accepted across the US, yet the film industry still disregards this demographic. Hollywood is predominantly driven by ticket sales to straight men. That’s why lesbian sex in Hollywood is extensive and gay sex is not. The film industry is in a financial slump and is unwilling to take risks even in successful times. When taking a risk of showing gay male intercourse, as Mutchnick points out, “someone in the audience will inevitably shout ‘Ewww!’” This does not help the profitability of Hollywood Producers.
According to Art Director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, David Ansen, “there were actually movies this year with gay sex but really nobody saw them because they only played in film festivals. …Gay films are not seen by crossover audiences.” Even though studio executives aren’t necessarily homophobic, many directors in Hollywood struggle to secure financing if gay sex is portrayed. This funding shortage could be related to the fact that if people are not gay, they might not be getting something out of a story of gay people. As gay people have become more integrated into society, gay sex depictions have lost their shock value. Gay men have entered into mainstream media, particularly romantic comedies, as a cuddly figure who does it in the dark or gets sidelined sexually.
In the case of Showtime’s Queer (running from 2000-2005), actor Peter Paige found it difficult to secure acting work after the show ended. He found that sometimes even for gay roles, casting directors only want to see straight actors. It remains that Hollywood directors are scared to take those chances.
Societal change is the byproduct of the stories we engage with and the media we consume. Ramin Setodeh of the Daily Beast argues that “if Hollywood refuses to push boundaries, to make more people comfortable with something that a segment of America is still uncomfortable with, gay people remain second-class citizens.”
What is lacking is Hollywood is gay romance. And you can’t have romance if it ends with a kiss on the cheek- you need passion.
ONE Condoms supports all sexual orientations & supports the freedom of expression.
You can read more on this topic here at the Daily Beast.
Do you think that Hollywood is doing a good or bad job at portraying gay sex? What would you like to see more of?