Screen Gems

‘Straight Up’ wonders: is it ok for a gay man to hate gay sex?

Straight Up

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.

The Spirited: Straight Up

We fell in love with this indie comedy back in 2019 when we caught it on the festival circuit. It would seem many of our readers agreed: the film also took home the Queerty Award for Best Indie Film.

Straight Up follows Todd, (Writer/director James Sweeney) a 20-something gay man utterly afraid of gay sex and suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. His solution? Date a woman. When he meets Rory (Katie Findlay), a lonely, struggling actress, the two take an immediate liking to one another. They agree to begin a romantic relationship with one strict rule: never have sex. Todd’s friends think his relationship with Rory is a disgusting farce, but does a good relationship really need sexual chemistry?

Straight Up addresses themes of mental illness, loneliness, and stigmas around gay sex. It also features some very big laughs, sharp dialogue, and frank observations about life as an artist. Beneath the surface, Straight Up offers a meditation on isolation, and how the desire for affection far outweighs a need for sex. Though Sweeney writes, directs, and stars, the film never feels like a vanity project. Rather, it feels like a genuine artist trying to explore his own demons with naked honesty on the screen.

Funny, personal and bittersweet, we recommend Straight Up to anyone who has ever felt frustrated by sex, dating, or both (and we know that includes most of you). What the film ultimately says about its main characters is as elusive as it is intriguing.

Streams on Netflix, Amazon, YouTube & iTunes.