Aesthetic cowardice

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On and off I post a note here and there asking for suggestions of gay movies and gay books. Most people don't read my criteria so I'm not going to restate them.

Some suggested movies I can't bring myself to watch: Laramie Project and Boys Don't Cry. It isn't that I don't think they aren't worthwhile. Similarly when Soldier's Girl shows up in the cable listings I just can't get myself to watch it.

Call it aesthetic cowardice. I've never cared for depictions of suffering in art. Not that I expect everything to be another Top Hat. I've watched my share of AIDS movies. And it hits me that my three examples are all movies based in real life.

Suggests that I flinch more from pain rooted in real people's lives than an artist's imagination. Two of the three are about transgendered people who suffer enough among the people you'd expect to understand their apartness rather than sneer at them for not fitting into conventional queerdom. And Matthew Shepherd to me sounded like many young gay men I've known who felt they were lucky to have made it out of high school without a beating.

Given the unavoidable quotidian suffering I guess I'll always opt for the cheerful and accept myself as an aesthetic coward.


ooph, I do not recommend Boys don’t cry. I saw it at the cinema when it first came out and at that time it hit too close to home. I cried so much on the way out of there my friend had to half carry me. At the same time it’s so frustrating and not just the bigotry but with so many of these cases the stupid behaviour of the victims (sorry Matthew. Sorry Brandon) putting themselves right in the crossfire. -.- I feel the same way now. I stay clear of heartbreaking movies these days and often find myself asking “does anyone die?” before watching something, wanting to be spoiled so that I won’t be caught unaware and bawl my eyes out…

It bothers me somewhat writing happy endings in my gay fiction because of the agony some gays experience at the hands of the straight world, but there is so much negativity contained within the whole GLBT spectrum that I feel a little happiness is deserved, if only to soften the edges at little. The tragedy of Brandon and Matthew is horrible, but isn’t it more tragic when we keep stressing how bad it is to be different and how much the straight world hates anything that doesn’t meet their definition of normal?

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Aesthetic cowardice
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