How Making Love Changed Us

Screenwriter Barry Sandler discusses the 1982 gay-themed drama, actors who refused to star in it, and its lasting legacy.

BY Jeremy Kinser

July 14 2012 1:28 PM ET

What do you see as the legacy of the film?
I got hundreds and hundreds of letters from young gay men all over the country, who said they had to sneak out of the house to see this movie or they had to drive 50 miles to the nearest town where it was playing. “This movie gave me a sense of pride and acceptance.” “I was able to come out to my family or come out to my wife.” “I realized I’ve been living a fraud.” I received letters like that constantly. It’s great as a screenwriter its gratifying to know you touched people that way. To this day I still have people who search me out and email me and tell they’d never seen it or watched it again and it made them feel really good about themselves. On the basis of that, I’d say the impact is very strong.

What do you think when you watch the film today?
Well, with any film I’ve made I cringe at certain places and think, How could they have left that scene in? I can’t be objective. There are moments that really bother me, but there are also moments that are very affecting and I feel good about. I look at it from two perspectives: as a piece of filmmaking and as a piece of sociopolitical theater in terms of the statement it’s making. For the most part I’m very happy with it.

How have you seen perceptions of LGBT people change since the film premiered?
When Brokeback Mountain came out a few years ago I got calls from journalists asking how gay images in film have changed over the years. I said I think public perception has changed enormously, mostly due to television. Everywhere you look there are gay characters on TV. Once people see gay characters in the comfort of their homes the more the concept of homosexuality is destigmatized. We’ve seen this in polls in acceptance of same-sex marriage. I think perceptions have really changed as they see we’re just part of the fabric of society

 

Making Love will screen tonight at 6:30 p.m. at L.A.’s Harmony Gold Theatre with Sandler and Hamlin in attendance. For more information go to Outfest.org.

Tags: film

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