January 12, 2006

Brokeback Bigots, an Open-Ed piece by Adam Elliot

(the following is a piece that was printed in today's Herald Sun newspaper in the opinions section. I couldn't find it on their website so I had to type the whole thing out. Hope you like it)

It was disheartening to learn that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has given Brokeback Mountain, starring our own Heath Ledger, an “O” rating for morally offensive.
Also disappointing was that the management at the Jordan-Commons Megaplex in Mormon-dominated Salt Lake City, Utah, cancelled all screenings of the movie.
The cinema’s owner learned of its plot a few hours before the film was to start its run there.
Homophobia is, of course, alive and thriving.
What a shame the locals in the Jordon Commons can’t go and see this wonderful film, as many Melbournians did at its Australian premiere this week.
Yes, its two lead characters are gay, but forgetting this for a moment, it is a beautiful piece of cinema that we can all be nourished by, and perhaps even learn something from.
As a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I am presently considering my vote in all the Oscar categories.
I’ve seen Brokeback Mountain twice and agree with critics that it will be hard to beat in many categories.
The film does contain a few love scenes and, for some, watching such moments on the big screen can be a squeamish event.
From memory, watching Liza Minnelli and Dudley Moore canoodle in Arthur was quite high on my “repulsometer”.
In 1930, the briefest screen kiss by a heterosexual couple was considered extremely risqué and taboo.
Now it’s as common as sushi.
Brokeback Mountain might be considered groundbreaking for the moment, but hopefully in a few short years, films like it will barely raise an eyebrow.
I suppose all the controversy stems from fear.
When somebody displays homophobia, they insult a tenth of the population.
We are everything, a part of every country and every race. We are your school teachers, doctors, dentists, brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles.

We have been around for thousands of years and are not going away.
We experience love in the same capacities heterosexual people do and are tired of being discriminated against.
Not all of us are interested in redecorating your homes, or styling your hair.
We are quite often truck drivers, brickies, plumbers, sportsmen, cowboys and farmers. We can be creative, but there are some of us who can have less dress sense than Sir Les Patterson.
Most of us don’t wear rainbow hot pants, we’re not all witty, not all of us walk in pride marches.
We just want the same civil rights as everyone else under the law and to how our relationships acknowledged.
We are wonderful fathers and mothers, and we definitely are not interested in molesting your children or twisting their minds.
Our sexual orientation is as ingrained as our eye-colour.
And as Annie Proulx, the author of Brokeback Mountain, displays in her novel, and how Ang Lee, directs beautifully, the two lead characters demonstrate that their sexuality has never been a choice.
It is genetic and as permanent as their arms and legs despite their own denials.
Despite people’s fears and bullying hypocrisy of macho societies like that shown in Brokeback Mountain, things are changing.
Since Harvie Krumpet won the Oscar, I have been so delighted at the positive response I have had to my acceptance speech when I thanked my boyfriend, Dan, in front of a billion people.
I never intended to be political nor considered myself brave: I didn’t even twice before saying it.
He is the person I am in love with, the person who supported me, the person I want to be with for the rest of my life.
I felt weird using the word “boyfriend”, but “partner” was too ambiguous.
I would have liked to have used “husband”, but unfortunately Mr Howard has made that illegal for now.
Some countries including Australia re slowly realising that a marriage between same sex couples will not send our societies crumbling to the ground.
It will seem strange at first, but over time will become as familiar as pesto.

Governments in recent years have been amending their laws (to varying degrees), to give the go-ahead for same sex unions, and those that haven’t are at least debating the subject.
Australia needs to grow up and follow suit.
Let’s put religious prejudice aside for the moment, and subdue the hysteria, treat each other with respect, and remember that sex and sexuality aren’t as scary as you might think.
Go and see Brokeback Mountain, be entertained, be educated, close your eyes at the gooey bits if you wish, but keep your mind open.
You might learn something about yourself.

Adam Elliot is a film-maker who won an Oscar in 2004 for his short-animated work Harvie Krumpet.

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