2022 is already shaping up to be a landmark year for queer narratives in widely accessible films, and one of the first out the gate was the Troye Sivan-starring Three Months, which was warmly received when it began streaming on Paramount+ in February.
From first-time feature writer-director Jared Frieder, Three Months is a different kind of “HIV movie,” one that uses hopefulness and humor to depict the realities of living with the virus in the modern day, while still acknowledging how the AIDS epidemic ravaged the LGBTQ community in the ’80s and early ’90s.
As Frieder told Queerty ahead of the film’s release, an HIV diagnosis is “no longer a death sentence with adequate healthcare,” and his goal with the film was to remind younger queer viewers that they’re not alone, no matter what they might be going through.
Three Months takes its title from the length of time one has to wait to test for the virus after exposure, but the irony is that the film took much, much longer to bring together—nearly a decade, in fact. While not autobiographical, Frieder has shared it was loosely inspired by the emotional truth of his personal coming-of-age story, and the first version of his script was written some years ago.
Since then, it has landed on the prestigious Hollywood Blacklist in 2015, was momentarily re-tooled as a streaming television series, and then reverted back to a film format when it found a home with MTV Entertainment Studios and their platform, Paramount+. Frieder has previously joked that Three Months went through “5 billion drafts,” but he’s immensely proud of where it ended up, citing how difficult it can be to get anything made in Hollywood, but especially “projects with queer protagonists.”
Just a little over three months later, Queerty checked in with the filmmaker to see how he was feeling now that’s he’s been able to share such a significant chapter of his life with the world: “I feel like a weight has been lifted,” says Frieder over email. “I had lived with the story for so long and it was such a release to finally introduce everyone to [Sivan’s] Caleb.”
The director is “forever grateful” for the opportunity to make his long-gestating dream project a reality, and humbled by the fact that it’s made such a significant impact on audiences. “It’s been really moving to read everyone’s DMs and messages about the film,” Frieder shares. “The responses I’ve heard from people in the ‘poz’ community have been the most meaningful. I feel really lucky to have been able to tell a story that de-stigmatizes living with HIV.”
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The vital need for authentic representation and uplifting queer stories is not lost on Frieder. In fact, his home state of Florida—where Three Months is set—has become the center of a national debate over the discussion of gender expression and sexual identity in young people’s lives. Governor Ron DeSantis’ regressive “Don’t Say Gay Bill” has inspired a wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation and hateful rhetoric, but Frieder pushes back by spreading a defiantly optimistic message:
“Coming from the legislative trash can we know as Florida, I’m really hoping this new wave of LGBTQ+ stories can be a lifeline to young queer people who feel isolated, alone, and hopeless. A joyful life awaits them so long as we keep fighting for their rights.”
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Every day, conservative pundits parrot dangerous talking points about how the LGBTQ community is “grooming” the youth, so Frieder is making a point to counteract that with work that erases the shame around sex and queerness, just like he did with Three Months.
Next, the filmmaker reveals he has his sights set on telling more queer stories that make people feel less alone. “I’m about to take out a sex-positive family drama that I’ve been working on for three years,” Frieder teases. “I’m really excited about it.” We are, too!
In the meantime, you can catch Frieder celebrating Pride Month the way he knows best: “Screaming along to every lyric at the MUNA concert. And also watching gay movies. But mostly just screaming to MUNA.”