Op-ed: To the Lady Who Couldn't Watch Two Men Kiss During Cloud Atlas
“Ugh,” I heard the woman next to us sigh during a recent trip to see the new Wachowski siblings film, Cloud Atlas. I was with my partner, Ryan, and after he saw the film the day before, he encouraged me to see it. The part of the film that had our neighbor letting out sounds of disgust was a scene where two of the main characters kiss. Both of them were male, and the kiss was innocent and quick. When I heard her let out this sound, I looked over to see her holding a napkin up to her face, shielding her from the small physical connection of the characters near the beginning of the movie.
Throughout the film there is graphic violence, nudity, and sex scenes between straight couples. As much as I didn’t want to, I couldn’t help but include this woman’s reactions as part of my movie experience. When anticipating that a scene would turn violent or sexual, I turned my head to see if she would raise the same divider and she did not. She didn’t flinch when the gore in the film made me want to flinch. It was that one scene.
Cloud Atlas is an amazing film both visually and thematically. I took away the movie’s message that trusting in yourself, doing what’s right even if the outcome is grim, living your truth is most important. When the credits started, I felt my partner grab my hand, and as we passed the couple (the only two in the aisle on our way out), he expressed to her that he hoped she enjoyed the movie, but judging from her earlier disdain, that she probably didn’t get the main message of the film. At another time in my life, I would have been embarrassed to have this interaction go down. Even though I have been out for my music career and in life, confrontations have never been easy for me. I’ve felt stuck in certain scenarios because I wanted to avoid confrontation, putting others’ opinions before my own.
I’ve been in the studio recording my latest release, Formal! with my new band (Eric Himan Band), and one of the songs I wrote recently for this project is called “Symmetry.” I have finally been able to draw the line between others’ opinions and my own. In my life I have had those who have disagreed with me, but for some reason I justified their hate by saying, “They will come around,” and so on. But after a new friend in town declined to attend my marriage to my husband this year, I was taken aback. His religious convictions forced him to make the decision to not attend; he told me he had spoken with God, and God didn’t think it was a good idea that he attend. When religion enters into the gay conversation, it is usually with this tone. But I am surprised that these individuals can smile, be friends with me, and, if I don’t bring up the gay factors, remain close. This has happened with a few people in my life, and writing this song has finally given me the courage to draw that line in the sand between feeling sorry for my situation (being gay) and standing up for not only myself but my partner.
Today I am attending a wedding for a gay couple in town, and when I think of that woman fearing the view of two men kissing while being OK with violent deaths displayed on film, I realize we all have to get to this place of not accepting this behavior. The other theme of Cloud Atlas was not accepting what others tell you is the natural order of things. This was told to those enslaved for their race, gas-chambered in Germany for their religion, and for me, having someone disgusted by my sexual orientation. The more we accept this behavior, we take a role in it. This demo version of “Symmetry” is for you, as it speaks to this very issue. I wanted you to have it now because of its content. I hope you enjoy.
The Eric Himan Band is raising funds for this project at PledgeMusic.com/EricHimanBand, where Formal! can be pre-ordered.
Listen to “Symmetry”:
“Symmetry” by Eric Himan
On the piano bench in your living room,
I’d like to think we had a laugh or two,
Safe inside from opposing views,
I became the exception when I played by the rules.
It’s getting harder and harder to excuse,
The biting things you say amidst the sweet words you use,
But this time you threw me over the edge,
It’s gonna take longer to get back than it ever has.
Now your troubles have caught you like a bird through barbwire,
You made blame a new weapon with no warning shots ﬁred,
And the less we see eye to eye, the more I believe,
That between you and me, there’s no symmetry.
My mind’s fallen victim to my heart in the past,
So it braced when a new friend’s faith shadow was cast,
And the I-Told-You-So came on my wedding day,
when he said he couldn’t attend cause God told him “No way.”
I said “I know that you mean well, but this comes as a slap,
Cause I’ve spoken with God too and he’s never said that,
So your God and my God will have to agree,
That between you and me, there’s no symmetry.”
On the piano bench in your living room,
I’d like to think we had a laugh or two…