Cue the turbulent times of the '70s, when those fighting for gay rights braved the staunch opposition of the religious and political right. And as it happens the star of our show Alan Oakley is one such prejudiced right winger; a young Republican who is straight thinking, straight talking and just straight period - right? Well two out of three ain't bad and here it's a case of no prizes for guessing which one is the odd one out, given our man is soon to encounter Texas born gay activist Tommy Ballenger. Only rather than spend time getting to know Tommy's Southern charms, Alan is all too eager to spend the night venting his homosexual self-loathing in the form of his debut book on the evils of a gay lifestyle; a style of life that Tommy's best friend Michael has taken more than just a partial liking to!
Yet things are not always as Black and White as what they may at first appear, for opposites do at times attract, inparticular on the night when Tommy finally shattered Alan's heterosexual exterior, to reveal the homosexual that lay beneath. Only that was four years ago and now events of times past have returned to haunt Alan. For his anti-gay book 'The Straight Truth' written at the height of his closeted Republican days and long thought by him never to see print, is somehow riding high as the number one best seller.
Incensed at how his partner could pen such a vile homophobic work, the two lovers part company. Question is - will they ever meet again?
As the debut feature from writer and director Miles Swain, this marks a highly ambitious work. For here Swain opts to showcase a gay relationship not in terms of weeks or months, but in years. Thus what we have in effect is an American history lesson, one that details key events of gay liberation during the films' timeline of 1973 to 1986. Only by presenting archive footage of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan, the times that are a-changing are reflected as much by way of the historical events of the period, as by the hairstyles and clothes of the era.
Thankfully in mixing political commentary with romantic comedy, Swain has secured the services of Alexis Arquette as Michael and Sirena Irwin as Alan's former girlfriend Beverly, actors who here are seemingly out to top each other for the comedy award, only to be upstaged by a star turn from Jill St John, who as an ex Las Vegas showgirl isn't afraid to say it like it is, as Alan's gay-son loving mother.
For this, at heart, is a gay love story and to that end Larry Sullivan as Alan and Steve Braun as Tommy create magic together as the pair of lovers at opposite ends of the political spectrum, only for Ray Baker as Alan's wealthy gay best friend Peter to try and come between them in a work of, if not epic proportions, certainly time scale and for that matter one-liners, given it is filled with more hilarious turns that what you can shake a stand-up comic at! And yet for all of the pros of this feature, a word of caution remains. For this is a film that was written backwards, thus what starts as a romantic comedy may not necessarily end that way, but it sure is a trip well worth taking! Need more be said?
screened as part of the 16th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival - 2002: World Premiere