Another way (cinematographic)*, by Martín Dutelli
During my adolescence, without realizing, I was building my sexual identity.
"I was educated by the movies, they helped me along the way", said one of my friends in a support group I have attended for several years. The group is for gay men and is moderated by Lic. Alejandro Viedma. The movies indeed educate us, even as books also expand our horizons.
One of the first books I read “with a homosexual orientation” was “La brasa en la mano”, by Oscar Hermes Villordo. I ate it up, read it in silence, without uttering a word to anyone, in hiding. When I went out, I kept the book under my mattress, hoping no one would find it.
I just had a flashback, recalling that when I was entering puberty, I saw the movie Fame, which featured a young gay man. He was portrayed as a poor kid to whom society pointed an accusing finger. I identified with him. I chose silence, the road I was taking was inside me, and each time I saw an image, any hint of what was still inside the closet, a red alarm would go off inside my head, with an accompanying deafening noise.
I also recall that in my adolescence I went to see The Kiss of the Spider Woman with my mom, with its “scandalous scenes”, a total delight for gay eyes. Scenes in which Raul Julia and William Hurt have a kind of sexual encounter, beginning with a passionate kiss between two men. One of them is gay but not the other, who nonetheless who fell into the arms of sex in a dark prison cell, allowing himself the affection of another being.
The procession continued inside of me. I soon saw movies like Maurice (thousands of times); it was a pleasure to watch two men touching, kissing, caressing each other. They slowly discovered their sexuality, and after some time they each found a unique way to demonstrate their love. But for me, it was still the same story: a desire to go see Maurice time and time again, while lying at home about seeing a different movie.
Today I ask myself: How do different periods in our lives influence us? In this sense, I think the movies are a mirror of what takes place in our society at the time, that is to say, movies reflect, like a mirror, what our society is living, going through; it is as though the whole of society was going to a psychologist and saying: "We are gong through this and that, what shall we do?". And the analyst, who belongs to the same culture, responds that it is up to us to work it out, get through it, get out of the "cage aux folles", face the law of desire, have sex like the angels, love strangely, know everything there is to know about our moms, about ourselves, try the best way to walk, know another love, and much much more... Then, we open our eyes and see that this is nothing more than another way. But that we have permission to live it. To make it real.
At some point in time, before, during or after, in the mid 80's, came the argentine movies “Adiós Roberto” and “Otra historia de Amor”. The first one approached the subject with some guilt on the part of the main character. We can see how our society was changing during those years, because in the second instance, the characters allow themselves an encounter.
The progress we have made in the last few years has been spectacular, especially with the passage of equal rights laws, as the Gay Marriage and Gender Equality measures. These recent events bring to mind a movie I recently saw, Mi Vida en Rosa (Ma vie en rose). It is a French/Belgian/British production, filmed in 1997. It is about the life of a child, Ludovic, who feels like a woman, and dresses like one every chance he gets, wearing his sister's dresses. He, or she strikes up a friendship with a little boy from school, Jerôme, who also happens to be his father's boss' son. Ludovic assures his family that he/she and Jerôme will get married. One day, they are caught playing "marriage" and that's when the war between the two families begins, the absence of tolerance for that which was different. As the movie progresses, we begin to see how this boy/girl is mistreated, just for wanting to be a girl. At school, at home and in the rest of society, he is maligned for wanting to be, simply, a girl. It is a beautiful movie which deals with discrimination, homophobia, transphobia and plain ignorance. At the same time, it deals with acceptance, as we experience the transformation that love brings, leading to the realization that a person can be who he is, rather than just dream about who he could be.
“Y así seguimos andando
curtidos de soledad,
y en nosotros nuestros muertos
pa' que naide quede atrás**”
"And so we keep rolling along
Weathered by our loneliness
And within us our dead ancestors
So that no one's left behind**"
I believe that each one of us constitutes the hope of our ancestors, and that the movies faithfully record the events and developments in our society as they occur.
Regarding our sexual identity, realities featured in LGBT cinema can lead us to open and free discussions, and from there, to our healing. When we know and understand a plot, presented by great actors, the emptiness is transformed into something palpable, since those images are mere accomplices to what we feel and wish for.
With the help of these films as guideposts, I say then, today is the day to throw the doors wide open, so that they remain “Puerta Abierta”, "Open Door". So that we can come out of the closet, with or without celluloid. With or without paper.
But as complete beings.
*I wrote this article with love and admiration for Alejandro. I was inspired by his announcement that he would be traveling to Israel in this June to speak and participate in The First TLVFest International Conference for LGBT Cinema in Tel Aviv.
**Extract from Los hermanos (or Yo tengo tantos hermanos), de Atahualpa Yupanqui.