So for those who don’t know me, I am Gary Thoren. I am 54 years old. I am starting this blog mainly for our Queernundrum Podcast.
Holly, the other co-host, has it in her head I can write; and trust me no one wants to go against her. Holly won’t get angry but she will prove you can do it just from force of will.
So far this has been an exciting adventure. We have done about 10 podcasts and it has been an exhausting blast. Holly and I have each found out things we are good at and I have found out things I’m not good at. I think Holly can do everything.
Let’s start with how this podcast started. Almost a year ago when we started talking about doing this podcast but when I was about 15 years old and I realized I was probably gay. I didn’t know a word for it then but I realized I had an attraction to guys. I particular, Christopher Atkins. It started making more sense why I was so fascinated by the first 15 minutes of Planet of the Apes, the nude swimming scene with the 3 men.
The challenge was at the same time I was making this realization, the gay cancer, later AIDS was just getting exposure on tv. My young mind equated being gay with dying. So of course I went into the closet. It also meant I became very shy and unsure of myself, which was compounded by being a teenager.
Yes, I went through the typical gay issues of being teased, Gary the fairy, was a popular taunt. I was also quiet, a little over weight and loved books. None of these things made me popular with the in crowd. I honestly didn’t have friends for years, it lead to me dropping out of high school for a year. During this time I almost did nothing. I sat around a lot and got very depressed. I have of course moved on, I have been married 3 times. Once was completely stupid, lasted 6 months. The next one, I am still friends with my ex-wife and it produced an amazing girl named Lily and I also got a wonderful step daughter Lenee. That marriage lasted about 5 years. I have now been with the love of my life, Dean, for almost 20 years. Things worked out.
So now that I have dumped all of that out… In our next podcast, episode 11, we will be discussing Dan Levy. A queer person who is out and has won multiple Emmys and just won several Golden Globes. This is a big change from when actors were encouraged not to play queer characters and were told that if they were queer, that if they came out, their career would be over.
We now have a person, who has won Emmys for acting, directing, writing and producing in a single year. He is the first person to ever do this feat! He is also one of the top trending celebrities on Twitter. He just hosted SNL. He is the flavor of the month. This is a huge change from when Harry Hamlin, an up and coming actor, made the big studio gay love story, Making Love. This movie came out in 1982 and basically stalled his career. Also more importantly, the movie lost money. He still made movies and starred in LA Law but movie superstardom, which was happening for him, died because he made a movie where he played a gay guy. It’s neither here nor there but he is straight.
The next mainstream movie that dealt with gay issues was Philadelphia in 1992. This movie got made because Tom Hanks was already a bankable star and already had an Oscar nomination under his belt. It also helps that it was dealing with a gay man who was dying from AIDS which was still, by and large, considered a gay disease. Also all scenes showing intimacy between two men were cut from the final film, but Tom Hanks won and Oscar for best actor and Bruce Springsteen won for the song “Streets of Philadelphia”.
For this reason, it became a great way for straight actors to show their range, but still gay actors would steer clear of these projects because they didn’t want to be identified as gay.
To now! Dan Levy is gay and been out since he was 18 and he now is the toast of Hollywood. It’s taken 40 years but it is finally happening:
I wish I could tell that 15 year old things would get better, but at least 15 year olds now can look at Dan Levy and other queer people and know they aren’t alone. There are plenty of things still going on that need to change, but it is better.
I also want to acknowledge that there have been many queer independent films that have been around for over 50 years. I was talking specifically mainstream. I also want to say that at another time I will address women in film. I will talk about lesbians in film and transsexuals. Sadly, both have less stories told than films about gay men. This is a change that still needs to happen.