Richard Cohen Goes To The Movies
November 10th, 2007
As I was reading ex-gay gadfly Richard Cohen’s book, Gay Children, Straight Parents, I kept encountering passages that I thought would make great material for future blog posts. By the time I reached the end of the book, I looked back at all the dogears and concluded that this book could give me material for weeks. But since I don’t want to make this web site all-Cohen-all-the-time, I’ll just offer you this nice excerpt. The following is from Step 4 (“Investigate the Causes of SSA”), from his 12-step plan for parents. Enjoy!
There is much to learn about the culture by observing art. Art imitates live, and today, because there are so many SSA men and women in the entertainment industry, life is imitating art. I have rented dozens of movies with homosexual themes written, directed or produced by SSA men and women. These films are the best testimonies about the unhappiness and misery of the SSAD condition. They teach us how lonely and unfulfilling a homosexual life actually is. Be forewarned: If you rent any of these movies, it may cause you or other family members emotional pain and unrest. Consider watching one or more of the following movies, but do so with a loved one (not your SSA child), and share about your thoughts and feelings afterward.
• The Deep End. The mother is overprotective, indulging her son while the father is away at sea, and the son hungers for his father’s love. This is a typical triadic relationship: sensitive and artistic son, overattachment to mom, distant from dad.
• Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story. Again, the typical triadic family relationship is depicted. Olympic gold medal diver Greg Louganis is an adopted child with an abusive father and an overprotective mother. The sensitive son tries desperately to obtain his father’s love through athletic achievement and finally in abusive relationships with other men.
• Latter Days. A disturbing commentary about religious rejection of those with SSA, this movie shows that great harm that comes from ignorance. This is the story of a Mormon missionary repressing his SSA and being seduced by a “gay” man. It shows his parents’ reacting in all the wrong ways — with judgment and condemnation. They send him to a horrific program to “cure” him, but he ends up running back to his boyfriend.
• Angels in America. This 2003 Emmy-winning HBO drama by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kirshner is a truly tragic story of tormented SSA souls seeking solace and comfort from one another as they confront the onset of AIDS in the 1980s. There is no hope or redemption offered. The author has no understanding about the true nature of SSA and the potential for damage.
• Normal This 2003 HBO movie portrays a man who believes he was born in the wrong body and sets out to change his gender from male to female after twenty-five years of marriage. Again, it shows no understanding about gender identity disorder. There is a brief allusion to the relationship with his dad — shaming, name-calling, verbal abuse.
Let me break in here and point out something. After Cohen claims that the author of Angels in America “has no understanding of the true nature of SSA,” Elsewhere in the book, Cohen refers to homosexuality as being fundamentally a gender identity disorder. Cohen here repeates his utter confusion over homosexuality and transgenderism. He’s not alone. Ex-gay and anti-gay activists often are unable to see any difference between the two. The first refers to the gender of the object of one’s attraction, the second refers to the gender one sees onself. The one often has little to do with the other, and for most people there is no overlap. With this passage, Cohen himself has demonstrated that he has no understanding of the nature of homosexuality or transgenderism. Okay, back to the review…
• Brokeback Mountain. This Oscar-winning 2005 film depicts the unhappiness of two very confused cowboys. The movie sadly leaves out the unfulfilling life they would have had if they’d lived together. Both parties are wounded and looking for the same thing that neither one of them had experienced: healthy parental love.
• Queer as Folk and The L Word. These two Showtime series depict the ephemeral lifestyle of men and women engaged in homosexual activity. Watch these shows only when you feel strong. They will evoke emotions of disgust, shock and pain.
What important movies do you think he left out and why do you think they’re important? You can leave your suggestions in the comments. And as Siskel and Ebert used to say, see you at the movies!
My review of Ricahrd Cohen’s Gay Children, Straight Parents: From Buggery To Huggery: Richard Cohen Has A Plan For Your Family