Where the Boys Were

What do 20-something gays think of the vintage film The Boys in the Band, just released on DVD? One guess…

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“Yes, how many minutes left?” Juan adds. “Are we done yet?”

But we’re not. There are about 30 grinding minutes to go, including the final moments when some characters make a futile plea to end gay self-hatred. But really, how else could it end besides mass suicide? People say Friedkin’s Cruising is a damaged movie, but at least the men in that one get to have some fun before the serial killer gets all stabby.

When the credits roll I ask for final thoughts: “Bleak and exhausting,” Juan says. “Thanks for the total bummer.”

“The movie is like what you’d see in a diorama at Mary’s Natural History Museum,” Adam says. “Look: prehistoric gays. They were unhappy.”

“I actually saw this play when I was 17,” confesses Steve. “I didn’t connect. I still don’t. I think it’s because secrecy propels the story—the idea that you can’t ‘admit’ that you’re gay. But I had gay teenage friends and caring parents then, so I was relatively happy.”

Graham simply calls the movie “insane. I think it just turned me straight.”

“But they all get to live at the end,” I say, trying to justify the last two hours of sadness. “That made it sort of groundbreaking.” Yet even as I say it, I realize I sound like a docent at Mary’s Natural History Museum.

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