And I almost forgot. Last year I typed up a somewhat controversial list of "out" film people. I'm not going to retype but if I did it'd feel so nice to add. And I would've had to. It's so nice to add. See, more and more Hollywood types are rejecting the don't-rock-the-boat myth of Certain Career Doom. Good for them. The way I see it "Coming Out" is a tangible gift to oneself but it's also of abstract benefit to the world. People feel alone and scared and marginalized for lots of reasons, not only sexuality, and if you can make someone else feel less alone merely by being true to yourself? Shazam! The world is a better place... and most of the time you won't even know that someone else was able to borrow from your strength. Which is fine. You don't need credit. At the risk of referencing a bad movie: Pay it forward.
Today I met up with Joe to take in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and it was sweet and cute and funny (though not really a patch on the director's debut Raising Victor Vargas, which is all of those things too). But since it's National Coming Out Day what I most want to say is that youth-oriented movies have come a long way. In the movie Nick's two best friends are both gay. Miraculously the movie doesn't think this is weird or shameful or anything other than just the way Nick's life is. If anything the movie thinks this makes Nick (a straight romantic lead) even more loveable than he is already is just by being Michael Cera.
Shameless generalizsations coming atcha now! Back in 80s teen movies nobody was gay onscreen. "Gay" was only something the characters didn't want to be called. No characters actually were, you know, that way. If you were a gay kid in the 80s (as I was) there just wasn't much to make you feel less "weird" or marginalized apart from the odd arthouse movie that you snuck into with sympatico friends. In the 90s token gay characters began emerging regularly (like Christian in Clueless) but they were mostly peripheral. In the Aughts the Gay Best Friend is everywhere in mainstream fare. From nonexistent to affectionately and ubiquitously portrayed in just two decades? That's real progress even if some diversity in "types" would be more than welcome. I can't imagine what it's like for gay kids growing up now. And the fact that I can't imagine it means that things have changed a lot. And that, my friends, is a very good thing.