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Five Films You
Didn't Know Were Gay

Five Films You
Didn't Know Were Gay

Queen Latifah gives an acceptance speech at the 2021 BET awards

I'm not the kind of person to go looking for homo subtext when it's not there. And really, you shouldn't be either. Queer moviegoers aren't obliged to see everything filtered through a subtext-decoding spyglass. But I saw nearly 400 movies in 2007 (yes, really), all in the line of duty. And I can tell you that at least a handful of the movies released this year were really gay films trying to pass for straight. And I have evidence...

Hairspray Stated plot: Some kids dance their way to racial equality in 1960s Baltimore.

Really about: The inexorable march of progress toward human equality. Not taking into account its weirdo star in drag (see Wild Hogs below) or tabloid rumors about Queen Latifah, what is this movie--conceived and executed by queers--but a metaphor for gay liberation?

The proof: The final number, when not referencing the NAACP, isn't about race so much as it is the "paradise we've been dreaming of" and nothing being able to slow down the "rhythm of two hearts in love."

The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford Stated plot: Professional hanger-on Robert Ford both idolizes and despises his boss and best frenemy James. Then he shoots him dead.

Really about: Unrequited love turned ugly in an era when only Walt Whitman had the self-awareness to know he wanted more than companionship from his "buddies."

The proof: Much like the Lucille Ball-obsessed gay child in Todd Haynes's short film Dottie Gets Spanked, Casey Affleck's Robert Ford collects bits of media related to Jesse James and reads every nickel novel he can find. Scrapbooking like that is kind of a giveaway.

300 Stated plot: Manly Spartans trounce eyeliner-wearing Persians.

Really about: Insanely horny guys on the rampage, all of them constructing intricate decoy plans that will allow them to touch other men.

The proof: Try as they might, they can't shake that "army of lovers" thing. It doesn't help when every guy in the movie is half-naked and has digitized abs like an issue of Physique Pictorial come to life. Also? Totally homophobic. And that's really all the proof you need.

P.S. I Love You Stated plot: A young woman grieves her dead husband via notes and recorded messages sent from beyond the grave by the thoughtful ghost.

Really about: Everything else, but mostly being the center of drama

The proof: You have gay icons Gina Gershon and Lisa Kudrow as your best friends, trill in the solitary pleasure of singing Judy Garland songs into a hairbrush, resolve to be a stronger lady by modeling future public statements on Bette Davis dialogue from some old movie, and wonder whether your dead husband -- if he was so straight -- would write you notes with sentiments like "You go, Disco Diva!" Yes, all this stuff happens in the movie.

Wild Hogs Stated plot: Four middle-aged straight men have simultaneous midlife crises, hop on motorcycles, and then bicker like seething, disappointed libertines trapped in a dead-end four-way relationship.

Really about: Gay panic

The proof: This is John Travolta's show. He can't be shrill or hysterical enough about gay this and gay that. Stated. By name. From his own character's mouth. Gay characters leer at him. He gets violent. Other men accidentally touch him. He gets violent. The guys want to go skinny-dipping. He calls them gay. Then one of the Tenacious D guys sings a Pussycat Dolls song. It's insane.

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Dave White