Can Queer Movies Keep Up?

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Julia Key, Editor

 With LGBTQ+ representation in movies on the rise, it’s high time to assess if these movies are moving us forward.

Queer media is on the up and up, but is it accurately representing queer experiences? A trend in gay media that is still rampant today is the “bury your gays” trope, which depicts queer experiences as miserable and full of struggle, even killing off queer characters. While many movies are pushing queer experiences forward, some are still sticking to the old trends. 

My Policeman came out this week on Amazon Prime. This movie has had a ton of buzz surrounding it. Harry Styles plays the main character, a policeman, in this tragic love story between two men in Britain set in the 1950s.

My Policeman depicts the struggle of a closeted policeman and his art historian lover (David Dawson). This movie shows the love between the two men, but also the pressures of marriage during the time, as well as reminding us that homosexuality was a crime. Harry Styles’ character struggles with his nervousness to lose his job and societal pressure to find a wife (Emma Corin). Tom, the policeman, Patrick, his lover, and Marrion, his wife, are caught in a tragic love triangle.

This movie was beautifully made and wonderfully told, but it adheres to the previously mentioned “bury your gays” trope. “My Policeman” is reminiscent of many of its queer film predecessors. Brokeback Mountain, Maurice, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Call Me by Your Name, and Carol, were all period pieces containing a tragic and forbidden love story between queer characters. The story in My Policeman is overtold and predictable, and while tragedy is a real experience in many LGBTQ lives, it’s not the only experience.

Billy Eichner’s comedy Bros was a refreshing story in LGBTQ media. Not only does it depict a more modern queer romance, it also shows many other forms of queer life, including characters from every letter of the LGBTQ acronym.  

In a sea of LGBTQ tragedy, Bros was a breath of fresh air. It follows podcast host and LGBTQ museum coordinator Bobby through his complicated love life. In his 30s, Bobby has never been in a serious relationship, until he meets Aaron. This is a modern love story, exploring the struggles of commitment and family in a relationship. 

Not only is the movie refreshing, all of the leads are played by actually queer actors. Many movies surrounding queer people cast straight actors. It’s not mandatory for a queer actor to play a queer character, but in media it feels fortifying to see queer representation in queer movies. 

Overall both Bros and My Policeman were good movies. The two are very different story wise and tackle completely different aspects of queer living, but one brings us forward in queer representation and one keeps us stagnant. My Policeman focuses on how queer experiences affect the straight lives around the time, and Bros focuses on different aspects of queer life, bringing a wide and fully LGBTQ focused movie.

Tragedy exists in queer lives, but so does happiness and joy. Queer people want to see characters they can relate to living happy successful lives, and filmmakers need to embrace these stories, instead of sticking to the old ideas of queer despair.