Saturday, June 18, 2005


I'm deeply immersed in the Frameline 29 International LGBT Film Festival, which is why I'm not blogging here at quite my usual pace. Between a full day of films, with just the occasional break for food, stealing a half-hour to go to the gym so as to have some activity greater than lifting popcorn to my mouth, there's not much time to write about politics.

However, Sommersturm is one of several films in the festival that inspire the same reservoir of passion that drives me to write about politics. For my film review, check my queer film blog.

In a nutshell, the story centers on several high-school students coming to grips with their own sexual feelings and those of their teammates and friends. I was never on a rowing team; it wasn't an option in high school, besides which I was defiantly unathletic, even moreso than today. In college, I felt I had already missed the racing shell (boat), besides which I had other interests, and as you know from this blog, an unrequited love for the sport of skateboarding.

The tremendous resonance in my own life was more around feeling completely unable to admit even to myself that my crushes were all on male classmates. Indeed, when I think of being completely lost in a moment with another person, it's a guy. I've dated girls, I've kissed girls, I've done more than just kiss a girl, but it's the guys into whose eyes I melt. In high school, I lived in 1970's Dull-as-a-Tick's-ass (near Fort Worthless), surrounded by bible-thumping Southern Baptists. The mayor of Dallas faced a recall petition simply for speaking to a gay organization.

Of course, the other political resonance is in something the filmmaker, Marco Kreuzpaintner, said at tonight's screening: why is it that, while Europe and Canada are making major strides forwards in individual freedom, the United States is intent on winding the clock back to 1953? To be fair, the fact that Warner Bros. picked up a German film for international distribution but not for U.S. domestic distribution probably has as much to do with subtitles as with gay content. Still, can you picture an English-language film like this playing at the suburban megaplex?

Life, Liberty...
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
San Francisco AIDS Foundation; photo: Warwick May

The United States is supposed to stand for, in the words of one of my favorite posters, "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" (from the SF AIDS Foundation). I like that poster not merely for the two scantily clad young men pictured on it, but also for the political message. The "special rights" that queer people are seeking are simply the rights that mainstream society takes for granted.