Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Brokeback

So I finally made it to the theater on Sunday to see Brokeback Mountain (after feeling like practically the last person in the known universe who hadn't seen it yet; even most of the guys at the Exodus-affiliated ministry I maintain ties with have seen it at least once. Of course that's just one small example of the extent to which they don't see eye to eye with Exodus on a variety of matters, but I digress).

As I'd heard, Brokeback was a beautiful, emotionally resonant movie. A bit slow in pace, but very well written and acted. I can see how people with a variety of viewpoints could come away from it feeling that the movie supports their personal conclusions for or against same-sex relationships. The movie itself does no editorializing, showing us the unvarnished lives of Jack and Ennis and the effects that their relationship has on the people around them.

If the movie directs the viewer to any specific conclusions, I would propose the following:

1. Same-sex attractions cannot be reduced to mere lust. Jack and Ennis may be fictional characters, but the relationship they shared accurately captured the very deep and very real feelings experienced by gay men and women every day, and that simple reality needs to be fully acknowledged no matter which side of the debate one chooses to take. There is nothing - absolutely nothing - positive to be gained from stamping down and refusing to acknowledge one's emotions.

2. Any homosexually oriented individual who is thinking about marrying an opposite-sex partner should think long and hard before doing so. Marriage is in no way a 'cure' for homosexuality and should never be entered for that purpose, much less for the sake of appeasing societal expectations.

Of course, even those simple conclusions are clearly the product of my own bias, so take them with as many grains of salt as needed.

In any case, this isn't the type of movie you can put out of your mind as you leave the theater, or at least it wasn't for me. It still weighs on me, if not as heavily as it did that first evening. The only times I shed tears during the movie were during Jack & Ennis' last argument, and as the closing credits rolled. But then, not too long after I got home, Bebo Norman's "Our Mystery" came up on my iTunes playlist, and suddenly the floodgates opened and I cried almost as hard as Ennis did after he and Jack parted ways that first summer.

Feels like a brand new day
And I know I'm not the same
Because I see you
And I need you
And I know I couldn't leave you if I tried
To walk away

Your love won't bring me down

I'm living a long, long life
And I will not let you go
It's taken a long, long time to get here
It could be a long, long night
But I will not let you go
Love will be our mystery

So let's leave this world behind
And see what we can find
'Cause I don't need it
Or believe it
And I know I couldn't keep it if I tried
'Cause you'd change my mind

Your love won't bring me down

Yeah. Anyway. I suppose there's nothing actually surprising or unusual about my reaction (and it did provide a good release), but all the same I sometimes wish emotions were a bit more, well, rational. One thing I liked about the ex-gay programs I've been a part of was the time we'd spend analyzing our feelings and breaking them down into their constituent atoms to help us understand why we are the way we are, what triggers us, etc.

Of course, you can only sustain that level of self-scrutiny for so long before you exhaust yourself; at some point you need to take whatever you've managed to learn and move on with your life, while you still have one to live.

For better or for worse, I'm ready to experience life again.

3 comments:

Peterson Toscano said...

E, you are not the last person to see the film; I am. I have yet to view it (although I've read the short story). I know it is a tragic tale, especially the relationships between the gay men and straight wives.

I know that pain first hand and don't feel I can casually walk into that movie theater. I need to be in the right frame of mind.

I completely agree with you about the analysis of feelings in "ex-gay" programs. In fact, I think it was that very skill that helped me to see my way through to the other side. That and theater.

Peterson

Jimbo said...

at some point you need to take whatever you've managed to learn and move on with your life, while you still have one to live

Amen to that.

...and I too have yet to see the movie, which has only recently opened over here. From what everyone has said, I'll be sure to take some hankies.

Mark said...

I've not seen it yet. I desperately want to but have to settle in one place long enough to.

I agree with your recommendations from personal experience, btw