Three cheers to Justine Pimlott and Maya Gallus for delving into the relationship-rich world of gay men and their female admirers. Their lively paced look into both the evolution of fag hags—from the Queen Mum’s affection for her bear-skin guards to Will & Grace vaulting these sexless (er, mainly …) relationships into popular culture—and the personal stories of present-day “couples”—is a welcome addition to the incredibly complex subject of people in love.
The glue to the production is the stand-up comedy of Margaret Cho—a shameless wit and ardent supporter of her many colleagues (don’t miss her Underground Railroad moment: tears-in-your-eyes funny). The iconic music tracks (including “It’s Not Unusual” and “the song of mehitabel”) are, well, toujours gai. Also included is the instant Ukes of Hazzard web hit, “Gay Boyfriend,” that has a compelling Pierre et Giles tone, but the attempts at harmony would curdle fresh cream in a micro-second.
Carole Pope is the convincing narrator as the cleanly edited (Ricardo Acosta) documentary cuts between stock footage (from Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer to Andy Warhol’s My Hustler) and interviews with present-day couples.
Matt and Cynthia go back thirty years. He is “the guy I would be married to if I could,” but their platonic love had to endure a five year gap. Cynthia sent a letter that pushed a little too hard in her desire for clarity about what they really meant to each other; her longtime friend panicked and bailed. The historical slide show puts their physical and emotional changes in perspective even as the ravages of breast cancer brought them closer than ever.
In San Francisco, writers Dodie and Kevin managed to overcome their physical differences and married in 1986. Now, they have a full-service, caring relationship. Part of their revelations are shot riding a merry-go-round—the perfect metaphor as they struggle to describe and define their uncommon relationship. Having survived an AIDS scare when Kevin’s latest infatuation died before the second date, they agree that with monogamous marriage “we were going to be safe.”
Gay marriage is also on the platform of SWISH (Straight Women in Support of Homos), a NYC-based organization that works hard to remove the stigma of fag hags as women who are losers—unable to get a date with anyone. Their Pride Parade float serves as a great example for other marginalized groups.
Recently-out Denis contemplates having a child with Dana. She’s reluctant at first, but since both are “single” and she feels her biological clock approaching midnight, they have a serious discussion about the possibility of starting a family the clinical way. Interesting is the ready acceptance not only of their own responsibility but that of their future partners for the rearing and well-being of the child: extended families stretched further still.
Pimlott & Co. have succeeded in stirring the pot of discourse amongst and around gay men and the women in their lives. Sex, of course, is featured prominently in both the discussion and the visual background, but—like a one-night stand—is merely the superficial hook; much more is offered about the often indescribable emotions and feelings that percolate in millions but have yet to be properly labelled, much less accepted by the mainstream. JWR