If you haven’t already heard, there’s a new movie out which is just reaching mainstream theaters this week called The Kids Are All Right. Caveat here- I haven’t actually seen it yet, but it seems like something that would be on my short list of movies to watch.

Why exactly?  Well, first of all, the film stars Julianne Moore, who is fantastic.  Second, the storyline centers around a lesbian couple- Nic and Jules- who are going through the trials and tribulations of raising to teenage kids, kids who are now in search of their biological sperm donor.

Thing being, the story does a really good job of balancing an argument that LGBT people have been having for a long time: does the queer community desire to be “just like everyone else” or have a unique social stature which sets its members apart.  In short, it’s the assimilationist-separatist debacle, which every minority group has dealt with in one way or another.  Is the objective to conform to the way society expects “normal” people to be or is it better to stand out purposefully and assert the legitimacy of a different lifestyle?

This Carnal Nation article by Greta Christina does a good job of explaining how this film navigates that line (warning! The full article contains spoilers!)

“Well, one of the first things you notice about Nic and Jules is all the ways they’re like every other long-married couple. Of any sexual orientation. The casually deep intimacy and the dumb squabbles; the easy affection and the old, unresolved conflicts; the long history of things that never get said and the long history of things so well understood they don’t need to be said… all this will be instantly familiar to anybody who’s married. Or who knows people who are married. Which is to say, anybody.

Yet at the same time, Nic and Jules are very much a lesbian couple. At times to the point of being scary. The processing, the casual use of therapy-speak both to communicate and to score points, will have every lesbian couple in the audience hiding under the seats in embarrassed recognition. More positively, the two women’s ease with their bodies and with each other’s bodies, the complete comfort with which they see themselves as women while offhandedly rejecting almost every conventional image of femininity, will be instantly and delightfully familiar to anyone who’s hung around dykes for more than fifteen minutes.”

While Nic and Jules trend traditional in their lifestyle, there are still uniquely lesbians.  And that’s a comforting thing to see- especially in Hollywood, where queers generally fit into two categories: closeted and yearning (see: Brokeback Mountain) or out and flaming (see: Camp, Will and Grace).  In the former, the character is relatable, but never fully and dynamically gay.  In the later, the character often shows attributes of being gay, but they are taken so far to the extreme that they are no longer relatable.

Am I saying that either of these modes are the “wrong” way to behave in society?  Hell no- quiet, closeted, flamboyant, excessive, or somewhere in between are all fine behavior modes as long as they suit the person they’re attached to.  (Personally, I think the closeted life suits no one, but that’s not truly my place to say) With Hollywood however, the respectable and moderated line that Jules and Nic fall along is both refreshing and positive for the LGBT community overall.

S’all I’m sayin’.

Stay cool, queer kids.

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