I was searching for information about Tom Ford’s film A Single Man, his directorial debut, when I happened on this entry on Towleroad. In short, the promotional material for the film including the American trailers and the one-sheets make absolutely no reference to the fact that the lead character is gay.
Now, I don’t think every movie with a gay lead character needs to have billboards and trailers screaming GAY to the world. In the end it is going to be just a movie covering various themes and issues, amongst them homosexuality. But from what I could gather the gay theme of the movie is completely hidden in this promotional material, and I have an issue with that.
What really got to me was Tom Ford’s reaction to questions about this, one of them at a private viewing party was “But this is not a gay film. I don’t even think about that. There are so many gay characters on TV that it’s almost become a cliché.” Okay, I kind of get that, but then he went on to say this in an interview with Kevin Sessums in Advocate “I don’t think of myself as gay. That doesn’t mean that I’m not gay. I just don’t define myself by my sexuality.”
That really irks, me. I get that he is trying to say he’s moved beyond labels and all that, but we, the world at large, have not. And for a public figure like him to ignore this fact by saying he does not view himself as gay is sad and problematic. It’s like saying you don’t see race and it’s not an issue. If you don’t you need a seeing-eye dog and you need to wake up to reality, just come take a look in South Africa, race still matters a lot. And so does sexuality.
I think Tom Ford is a brilliant man, pretty smart and very creative. I do admire him, but this sounds dumb and ignorant. Perhaps he moves in circles where it is easy for him to say “I don’t think of myself as gay.” Because it does not matter, but to most of us being gay is still a pretty big deal, and not something we can ignore.
We get stares when we hold hands in public, someone recently reminded us that judgment day is coming in a shopping center. In New York State gay marriage won’t be legalized, both Democratic and Republican senators voted against it. Adam Lambert is being dissed by ABC because he shoved a guys head into his crotch onstage. Something Janet Jackson has done way back in the nineties and no one batted an eyelid. Here in South Africa where same-sex marriage is legal there was a huge outcry over a male-on-male kiss in a soap earlier this year. A Facebook group opposing the show was created, 18000 people joined. In Burundi homosexuality was criminalized this year resulting in an increase in discrimination against gay men and women, Uganda is set to pass a bill making homosexuality illegal with harsh punishments for perpetrators.
Now, is not a time to say you don’t see yourself is gay. For whatever reason.