He's Engaged to a Woman, But Sexually Drawn to a Man
In the new film Just Me, a young Brit has a same-sex encounter that makes him question his impending marriage to a woman.
The new short film Just Me, directed by Mickey Jones, follows Scott (Philip Olivier), and old friend Connor (Carl Loughlin), who brings his past back to haunt him and threatens to change his future -- which includes an impending marriage to a woman. The film (watch the trailer above) takes us into the Liverpool leather scene as Scott wanders away from his "stag do," or bachelor party, and into a gay club where he reconnects with the man who will change his destiny.
The Advocate spoke to gay actor Carl Loughlin about his role as the catalyst of the film.
The Advocate: What drew you to this project?
Carl Loughlin: I wanted to get involved in this project [because], although times and attitudes have improved, I still feel that there are a lot of men struggling to deal with accepting their sexuality. I'm gay, I have gay friends, and it's quite common to have encounters with men who identify as straight but still have sex with men, whether that is bisexuality, denial, confusion, or just sexual frustration. I loved that it was set in Liverpool and the opportunity work to work with actor Philip Olivier and TV director Mickey Jones. As well as being my teen crush, Philip is amazingly talented and a joy to work with. I really admire his work. Mickey, the director, is a TV directing legend. He has worked on all of the major U.K. soaps and Mickey pushed me on set more than anyone else, and as a gay man himself he knew the story inside out.
What do you have in common with your character?
In my teenage years I was always "falling in love" with unattainable straight friends, and nowadays I'm no stranger to unrequired love. What I really liked in the film is that both characters are both wearing masks. Everyone wears masks every day, whether that's in your work, social life, relationship, and I admire how the writers [Thomas Sean Hughes and James Mallen] constructed my character so that the film is not just about the confused straight male that is putting up a mask to others. My character, Connor, at first comes across as an innocent, law-abiding policeman, but then during the film you realize that actually isn't the case. There are some differences in myself and the character -- I have never worn a harness and didn't even know how to put it on!
What did you learn about love and connection from making this film?
I'm a big believer in fate and having a strong connection at first sight -- maybe it's because I watch too many Disney films). In the film, I don't know what Phil thinks about his character being in love with mine; however, my character hasn't gotten over his first love, regardless if Scott is closeted, confused, or bisexual. I think it's possible to hold that passion and love for someone for years after, even when you don't see them -- and then when you do bump into them, it all fills back. As a single man, I've been on dates, and sometimes the person sitting opposite me could be the sexiest hunk imaginable but there's zero connection, but then suddenly you might meet someone randomly and think wow. I believe the characters in the film do feel that connection, and that's the struggle regardless of labels.
Connor (Carl Loughlin) and Scott (Philip Olivier) connect on the dance floor.
What advice do you have for someone in a relationship experiencing sexual urges for people other than their partner?
I think it's human nature and natural to want things we can't have, but then that's a different issue when it's conflicting sexual urges. A 2014 study found that only 12 percent of bisexual men are out of the closet compared to 77 percent of gay men. That means that almost 90 percent of bisexual men are in the closet. I think honestly is important in relationships. Firstly, most importantly, to have honesty with yourself and then with your partner. I know bisexual men who have admitted to their girlfriends they are attracted to men and they both experiment together. So whilst some men may be uncomfortable confronting these attractions, for the sake of their mental health, it is important to live as honestly as possible. Men may be used to having to appear a particular way to be perceived as strong, but their sexuality is no more negotiable than their skin color.
What do you hope an LGBTQ audience takes away from the film?
I hope they can identify with the characters and issues in the film, whether that is struggling to accept yourself, coming out, or being in love with a straight friend. I hope they are gripped and entertained. I hope that -- as it's a short film -- that when it ends they want more.