During the first test screening of In&Out, the audience had been recruited from all ages, races and genders. They knew nothing about the movie they were about to see. The crowd was enjoying the action, laughing and involved, until Tom Selleck grabbed Kevin Kline and kissed him. The place went wild, with approval and disgust. I watched one teenage boy try to hide behind his girlfriend, while another covered his eyes and put drinking straws in his ears (I’m not kidding.) This was unnerving, as was the response card from a woman who said that she loved the movie, the characters and the cast, until she was asked, “Would you recommend this film to a friend?” She replied No, and when asked why, wrote, “Against God’s law.”
The Broadway musical Shuffle Along portrays how revolutionary it was in the 1920s, for a show to include a kiss between an African American man and woman.
The shooter in Orlando was reportedly enraged, a few weeks before the massacre, by the sight of two men kissing.
While In&Out was in development, certain studio execs kept asking if the same-sex kiss was necessary. It was.
Some additional thoughts on the Orlando killings: as always, Republicans are only even mildly sympathetic to gay lives, once the gay people in question are dead. Over the past week, these Republicans have reverted to their ordinary bigotry, refusing to pass an anti-discrimination bill in Congress. Trump, who portrays himself as a friend to LGBTQ people, has pledged, if elected, to roll back gay marriage. He’s also congratulated himself on the massacre, using it to fuel his anti-Muslim diatribes.
I remember how, during the peak years of the American AIDS crisis, gay lives at last became visible, due to a hideous plague. Now a gunman has returned these lives, and these deaths, to the front pages.
Also: Anderson Cooper’s reporting from Florida has been extraordinary. His grief has been heartbreaking, and he called out Pam Bondi, the state’s Attorney General, on her earlier attempts to reject gay marriage and defame gay lives.