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…



“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.