It was Chris Kelly or Tyler Coates (or Eliot Glazer?) who wrote that a first date during which someone rehearses a coming out story is a bad one. (I don’t mean to suggest that gay bloggers are interchangeable. I follow a lot of great writers, and the Tumblr search function isn’t as robust as I had hoped. “Coming out bad first date” generated zero results, as did “date.”) I didn’t believe the writer at the time because any number of factors can contribute to a bad first date; the argument seemed susceptible to questions of cause and effect. “Did the coming out story sour the mood, or his penchant for talking incessantly about his ex-boyfriend?”
If nothing else, Weekend proves beyond a doubt that a coming out story does indeed make for a boring date. And a bad movie.
Before I launch into my tepid rant, allow me to concede that Tom Cullen and Chris New, Weekend’s lead actors, are great and natural and annoyingly handsome. By the end of the movie, I could attribute part of my anger to the thought that fine talent was wasted on weak dialogue.
Russell (Cullen) and Glen (New) meet on Friday, say goodbye on Sunday, and fall in love somewhere in between. A lot of moments they share are perfect. The bike scene, for example, felt real, as did the way that Glen played nervously with the tassels of his hooded sweatshirt while asking to see Russell again. When reviewers rave about this movie, I suspect it’s for elements such as these.
But the bar for romances has been set so low. I, too, appreciate naturalistic dialogue, uncomfortably long shots, and the omission of both cutesy montages and quirky, voice-of-reason roommates. That doesn’t mean I’m going to overlook this movie’s problems. During a drug-fueled argument, Russell shouts to Glen, “You’re talking like a fucking teenager again!” an accusation that could have been directed at Weekend itself: the discussions and questions and revelations are those of 17-year-olds.
For every authentic quip, for every look that conveyed intimacy or fear, there were two eye roll inducing discussions about being ashamed of oneself and feeling ostracized by the straight community and, yes, coming out of the closet. Let me be very clear: shame and displacement and sexual identity are serious issues that gay men think and talk about. But we do so from the perspective of adults, adults who don’t reduce complex matters to simplistic pronouncements, adults who know that not all straight people are insensitive, adults whose worlds and opinions didn’t cease to grow the second they came out of the closet.
Today is National Coming Out Day. How I’m supposed to celebrate, I’m not exactly sure. The day I came out to my parents remains one of the most significant of my life, and I’m grateful that the fallout brought nothing but love and trust and confidence. But that was 12 years ago. To talk about that day and nothing but that day is to deny the significance of all ensuing days. Yes, December 31, 1999 was one of my first important days, but it certainly wasn’t the last. I can only assume that the same is true of Russell and Glen, who seemed hopelessly stuck in the past and the adolescent views that defined it.