Talking with a reporter for The Buffalo News last summer, I found myself navigating through some of the murkier dynamics of sexual abuse. I was 16 the first time an official from the Catholic Church touched me (This, of course, was after years of verbal grooming). That was the age when my hormones, like those of many other young men, were starting to blaze into perpetual existence. I remember watching, sometimes in sad disbelief. as the boys and the girls in my high school found their way to each other, often times in the most unlikely couplings. This left me eagerly vulnerable to any homosexual advances – even the passionately unwanted ones. Therefore, it felt like I was lifting a murkily illuminated rock off of one of my darkest secrets when I revealed during that conversation that, on occasion, I relented without protest and sometimes with the barest whiff of desire when one of those often corpulent officers of Christ beckoned to me, lustily. To my surprise, the journalist, who had been covering this type of subject matter for decades. seemed unfazed by this admission. “Even the youngest and straightest of male victims have often admitted to feeling pleasure of some sort during these encounters,” he admitted. “It’s one of the many realities that makes the whole issue so insidious.”
As influenced as we are by cultural suggestion, it seems that the dearth of this kind of complex representation in film might also contribute to our silence on such an emotionally complicated issue, as well. In fact, the only film that I have ever seen approach this psychological tragedy is 2000’s back woods gothic genre-piece The Gift. Written by Billy Bob Thornton & Tom Epperson, one of the plot points of Sam Raimi’s acclaimed film deals with the relationship of a small town psychic (Cate Blanchett’s sensitively rendered Annie Wilson) and one of her supremely damaged clients, a young garage mechanic (Giovanni Ribisi’s Buddy Cole).
Obsessed with his father and mentally unraveling, it is pretty obvious from the outset that Cole, as emphatically and almost beyond realistically played by Ribisi, has been sexually abused by his paterfamilias. But taking the circumstances to an interesting extreme, Thornton and Epperson reveal just how deviant the effects of this violation can be. Desperate and at the end of a rapidly eroding grip on his violent tendencies, Buddy finally confesses to Annie, “I’ve been thinking about my daddy and I’ve been touching myself. Why do I do that?” Naturally with the set-up of Cole’s fist pounding, explosive personality, when the truth ultimately reveals itself to him, it is met with a fiery, understandably criminal retribution.
Despite this distinctly celluloid resolution, as most real life victims actually take to therapy or the courtroom to deal with their damaged upbringings, the creatives here still need to be applauded. By digging deep into a seemingly never before acknowledged aspect of abuse – the recipient’s own conflicted carnality – they offer a representation that is meaningful to the many, including myself, who deal with the repercussions of such abuses on a daily basis.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!