At the end of Wednesday's post, I wrote about how the lived experience of family and friends who are gay or lesbian has transformed our thoughts on homosexuality. My own eyes were opened while attending UC Berkeley in the early 1990s. The subject quickly moved past stereotypes when one of my freshman roommates "came out." By the end of college, I knew firsthand, especially from the friend who belonged to a gay and lesbian square dance group, that there was no such thing as a "typical" gay man or lesbian. I had also come to believe the basic truth that I tried to convey in my last post: love is love, whatever the genders of the participants.
"Longtime Companion" was the first LGBT-themed movie that I ever saw. Living in the Bay Area, a story about the early years of the AIDS epidemic was obviously one that my college friends and I found compelling. But more importantly, it was a story of love, devotion, and friendship that was incredibly moving to us. Watching it again yesterday, I continue to be moved by the affection and compassion of the characters, and not just those sharing a romantic relationship. It should be a model for all men to follow.
Unfortunately, "Longtime Companion" is a bit overshadowed by the more mainstream, and higher grossing, AIDS drama "Philadelphia" which came out just a few years later. As good as that movie is, it is mostly focused on questions of justice and homophobia. While these topics are important, they are issues peculiar to culture and history, and ones that have been largely resolved. Love and relationships, on the other hand, are timeless and universal. AIDS may be the backdrop for "Longtime Companion", but it is not a "current events" kind of movie. It is a film about human beings at our very best, confronting darkness with love and hope. It is a story of beauty and grace.