Shelter

shelterComing out stories have been a staple in LGBT film since LGBT folk have finally started telling their own cinematic stories. Recently Frameline’s, (the San Francisco LGBTQ film festival) new Executive Director Frances Wallace, was quoted as saying we are more than just coming out stories. Our lives are rich and diverse and we want to explore all sorts of themes in cinema. I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea. I agree with her 100%. That said, every generation continues to crave their own stories seen in their own unique way. Which is why I chose to revisit Shelter, a Southern California surfer bro coming out story from 2007. It’s certainly not my coming out story. There’s way too much gay straight boy posturing in the film for my taste. But I realize a lot of gay men grow up in  heterosexualized, uber-masculine worlds – Latino, African-American, surfer, southern, sports, the list goes on and on. The affectations of these worlds are just as artificial to me as many people feel about effeminate gay men. I tend to like people to be themselves. Genuine. And if they falls on either end of the spectrum of masculine expression, that’s great. If it’s somewhere in-between like most of us, that’s fine too. What I’m trying to say is I relaxed more this time and enjoyed Shelter. The bro this and yo that didn’t bother me as much. Of course I think it’s important for gay men to see all sorts of representations of themselves in film. The characters of Zach and Shaun effortlessly played by Trevor Wright and Brad Rowe fit that surfer masculinity well, although I felt Shaun’s character would be a little more sophisticated after living in Los Angeles. I also thought the ending was a bit too tidy. However I realize happy endings are important to experience, especially in coming out stories. Tina Holmes (Six Feet Under) was creepy good as Zach trashy sister and Zach’s bff Gabe – Shaun’s younger brother played by Ross Thomas was perfect as the dumb and hung college dude. The fact that his brother’s gayness didn’t bother him a bit and he immediately embraced Zach’s coming out even before Zach did speaks volumes for the cool straight guys this younger generation is producing. Zach’s connection to his nephew defined his character bringing a true element of family to an otherwise familiar story. Shelter is an emotional film tugging gently on the heart and leading the viewer to witness the possibility of happily ever after. 4 out of 5.

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