Well I saw Brokeback Mountain, not once, but twice last weekend. It really is a great movie and I've been thinking about it alot.
Sometimes I'll see or read something and it will resonate with me. I'll be able to see a parallel in my life that is being shown on the screen or described in a book. It's obvious not exactly the same, but similar in some shape or fashion.
Heather Ledger's character Ennis is the one that made me think. It may seem odd, but in my mind I was thinking about the similarities between life in a small town in Wyoming in the 1960s and life in the military. Even today, but especially almost 20 years or so ago when I was just starting out in the Navy, the thought of living my own life, with another guy, just didn't seem real. When you've seen guys pulled off the ship in less than 2 hours to ensure *their* safety, you realize that just minding your own business isn't enough. The military community is small. People talk. It's not like the word isn't going to get out at some point. And while you may or may not be subject to physical harm, say goodbye to any career you might want to have. That's Ennis' world.
So you adapt, withdraw, hide. Maybe date a girl. Not out of any real desire or love, but for convenience. And how easy could that diversion become a permanent reality if kids get involved? It's easy to see how Ennis, or anyone, could get trapped in that situation. And then what do you do? Deny yourself and live a lie, go through the motions, survive?
One of the things the movie did was make me appreciate being out now. Sure I was a late bloomer, but I can't even imagine what I would be like, how unhappy I would be, or how dead I would feel inside, if I were still in the closet. Still denying who I was and denying myself the opportunity to be happy, to be loved.
It's been interesting reading some of the various blogs about the movie. And Andrew Sullivan, as usual, is very eloquent:
"Heath Ledger was magnificent in his indirection - this was a rare movie in which the anguish of the outwardly conforming, "straight-acting" gay man was exposed in all its raw pain. Three scenes remain in my mind. There's a shot after the two men leave each other for the first time when Ennis [Ledger] stays upright and walks nonchalantly as his lover drives away. But then, as soon as his beloved is out of sight, he collapses in emotional pain, punching a wall in agony, even then having to deflect the suspicion of a stranger. The moment when they reunite - its passion, its need, its depth - ravishes with insight into what love truly is. Then there's the scene when Ennis' wife finally confronts him - and you can see the damage done to so many lives by the powerful, suffocating evil of homophobia. So many lives. Sometimes I start to imagine how much accumulated human pain has been inflicted for so many centuries on so many gay hearts and souls, and then I stop. It's too much. We are slowly healing; but some wounds will never heal; and they are inscribed on the souls of millions in the past - the ones who persecuted, the ones who suffered, the ones who never let themselves be loved - or saw it briefly once, feared it and lived their lives in the lengthening shadow of their regrets."
I'm lucky that I've never been persecuted, or suffered. But sometimes I wonder if I'm one of those who never let themselves be loved.