When gay director Todd Holland told an Outfest panel the best way for young gay male actors to make in the biz is to stay in the closet, he started a (mostly civilized) back-and-forth debate among different players about 1) whether his advice is true; and 2) even if it’s true, whether gay Hollywood should be encouraging anyone to stay closeted. Holland ended up apologizing-ish, but the issue didn’t die there. When fellow gay director Jason Bushman introduced his film Hollywood, je t’aime at Outfest on Friday night, he went after Holland directly.
Bushman’s film was a perfect meta scenario for this whole debate: Hollywood, je t’aime is about a gay Parisian man who heads to Hollywood to make it big as an actor, where his sexuality, among other things, plays a part in his journey. But before the opening credits rolled, Bushman (pictured, right) addressed Holland’s statements: “This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to,” he said. “From the get go on this movie, my wonderful casting director Jeremy Gordon … he discussed discussed how important it was to cast openly gay actors in openly gay roles.”
Indeed, from big names like Chad Allen to first-timers like Eric Debets, Hollywood, je t’aime (pictured, below) is filled with openly gay actors. And it represents a wholly different approach to casting than Holland’s theory: Let the openly gay not only star in a film, but star in a film with gay characters.
Of course, Hollywood, je t’aime probably isn’t going to see a wide release anytime soon; expect it to play the art houses and maybe HereTV. Unless you’ve got some serious star power attached (of the straight variety), films about gay male love stories do not get much attention from mainstream distributors.
And perhaps that should be a footnote to Holland’s larger argument about gay actors not getting far: Gay movies don’t get very far either. Should we then be telling gay directors and producers not to make movies about what they know?
Folks like Bryan Singer and Roland Emmerich already took that advice; these two gay powerhouses eschew that genre for blockbusters. And yet somehow big gays like John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig), Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), and Pedro Almodóvar (Law of Desire) don’t have a problem cashing cheques in queer cinema.