While there have been a few chaste sex scenes between men in Oscar-nominated movies through the years including Brokeback Mountain and Call Me by Your Name, the Elton John biopic Rocketman from Paramount is the first major studio film to truly depict gay male sex, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The film stars Taron Edgerton as the iconic glam rocker and Richard Madden (Bodyguard) as John’s manager and first male lover, John Reid. The movie, helmed by Dexter Fletcher (who took over on Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer exited the production), premiered at Cannes Thursday, and it reportedly includes a few sex scenes between the men.
“There were multiple scenes that included men kissing, simulated oral sex and a steamy bedroom scene with both Egerton and Madden unclothed,” according to THR.
Critically acclaimed and Academy Award-nominated, Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain featured a brief sex scene between the characters played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, while Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name featured a sex scene that coyly cut away during the consummation of an affair between Armie Hammer’s and Timothee Chalamet’s characters. And the Oscar-winning Moonlight featured a scene between teen boys that was groundbreaking. But those films were from specialty arms of major studios or from independent studios, with Brokeback coming out of Focus Features, Call Me by Your Name made by Sony Pictures Classics, and Moonlight coming from A24.
Last year’s blockbuster Bohemian Rhapsody, about queer Queen front man Freddie Mercury, was devoid of sex scenes. But the studio took it a step further and, for the version released in the sought-after Chinese market, cut out any mention of Mercury’s queer identity, according to THR.
Films that changed the conversation about sex between men over the years include Weekend, Bent, Wet Hot American Summer, and international films like Y Tu Mamá También and Law of Desire.