The Appeal of Younger Men

young chickAt the age of 33 I’ve only ever had one real boyfriend. By ‘real boyfriend’ I mean a guy who I dated and everyone in my life knew that I was dating him. All of my close friends and my parents met him in person. Not only did everyone know that he existed, and that he was a man, but we discussed him on a regular basis. I told others about places we went together, things we did, fun we had, the way he made me feel, and other such relationship type things. This was a very thrilling time of my life.

To some people reading this, such details may sound silly to be thrilled about since they seem so ordinary and perhaps downright inconsequential or insignificant. I assure you this openness and honesty about my boyfriend was quite significant for me. It made me feel more a part of the human race and, I daresay, an active participant in this dance of life we are all engaged in.

I’ve been meaning to write about this boyfriend, our relationship, and what lessons he helped me learn for quite some time now. But every time I sat down to write about him my words felt like they were deflated and like the post’s message was not taking on a large enough scope. Like there was more to be said than to just ramble on about he and I and our breakup. Over this past weekend the bigger message here presented itself to me. But first I must tell you about Thomas…

My first real boyfriend’s name was Thomas. From the first second I saw him, there was a spark. God, was he cute! And he seemed so kind and so sincere. That first meeting was brief, but on our second meeting we sat and talked for a very long time about horror movies. I found him physically attractive and he loved horror films! Deadly combination. I was smitten.

One important detail about Thomas, and perhaps the single largest contributing factor to our relationship’s downfall, was his age. At the time I was 31 years old and he was 22. In our case, the 9-year difference was one of the things that attracted him to me, and me to him, but it ended up being an overall negative.

Without going into too much boring detail, Thomas and I were a wrong mix right from the start. I am a communicator, a giver, and a person who desires to talk out problems. In my experience with him, Thomas was a taker who avoided serious conversation at all costs. We were always on a different page and never understood what the other was trying to say.

We dated for literally two months and one week. About two of those weeks were easy and really fun. The rest were a gradual downfall into continuously feeling like crap. We argued constantly, actually had very little in common, and the death kiss – I seemed more interested in Thomas than he did in me. When we would go out, he ignored me and seemed to be constantly trying to hit on other men. Guys would comment about this to me at bars. Thomas was constantly trying to talk me into having threesomes, which now I realize was an indication of his selfishness and his lack of genuine interest in me. Who knows why he even wanted to be together?

threesome

Thomas was very self motivated. All of his decisions and motivations were based on what benefited and satisfied him. Writing about him now makes me feel like an idiot for dating him in the first place, but at the beginning all I knew was that I felt an intense chemical attraction to him and that he made me feel alive. I had no way of knowing how toxic and unsatisfying our time together would be. After it was over, Thomas personally told me that he had cheated on me twice in the short amount of time we were dating.

Thomas was an awful boyfriend, but he was my first. This dating thing was new to me. It still is. Since our relationship ended I’ve internally reprimanded myself a great deal for having dated someone so young. Why would I have done something so obviously stupid?

Jump ahead with me to just this past weekend. I decided to rejoin the world of the living and head to a gay bar in the big city on Friday night. I ended up having a spectacular time. I’m so glad that I went out. I ran into a lot of old friends. It was really nice.

young manThroughout the course of the night I came across a 21-year-old gentleman named Calvin. He was young in all the traditional and enviable ways. His skin was flawless and wrinkle free, his hair was thick, healthy and styled in the coolest modern hair style, he was wearing such a hot and fashionable outfit, he was currently in school, and came across as so innocent.

He smiled so much that it made me happy just to be around him. He made me smile in return. We spent a lot of time talking and he is extremely excited about life. He’s excited about his school, excited about the possibilities ahead of him in his journey, and he talks about love like it’s a concept he just discovered yesterday. He is not yet jaded. Still optimistic and still hopeful.

He seemed interested in me from the start. He was so attentive, so touchy feely and flirty. He kept his eyes on me wherever I would move. Being around this and his attitude invigorated me. In fact, he had such an affect on me that I’m writing about him today and still smiling when I think of him.

Lately I’ve been feeling so blah and devoid of hope in my own life that being around Calvin held a harsh mirror up to me. Through him I saw an old reflection of Adam at the age of 21. He made me miss my old self. He made me miss my old excitement and optimism. He made me miss being young. Realistically, I believe that is how Thomas also made me feel at first.

old man reflectionStill, Calvin did another thing for me; he helped me realize something about myself. In the past two years I was most attracted to and enlivened by Calvin and Thomas, two men in their early twenties. As I drove home on Saturday morning with Calvin’s sparkling eyes still fresh in my memory, I realized why I was so attracted to these young two men.

I never got to date these young men when I was their age. I never got to date when I was a teenager. I never got to talk on the phone for hours with my teenage boyfriend. I never got to pass notes with him in class, or hold hands with him at homecoming, or take walks with him on warm summer nights. I never got to visit my boyfriend in his college dorm room, or study with him at a table in our college library, or feel his reassuring touch beside me in a dark movie theater. I never got to do any of these things, and to be honest, I feel so damn sorry for myself that it is hard not to tear up when I really think about it. I was attracted to Calvin, and initially to Thomas, because they were what I wanted back then and was without.

I was in Calvin’s presence for 6 hours on a Friday night and during that small amount of time I got to travel back in time to something I had been cheated out of. In the interest of full disclosure, we spent a pretty large amount of time making out on a friend’s couch in an apartment with lava lamps in every room and heavy-metal band posters on every wall. It could not have felt more like college if I had planned it, and it was wonderful.

In all honesty, I don’t think I will ever see Calvin again. This meeting had the feel of a one-time thing. It doesn’t need another instance in order to teach its lesson. He will probably never know what an impact our short time together had on me. I held his face, looked into his eyes, felt his lips on mine, and was completely present with someone for the first time in a long time.

For my future, I’m not completely sure what this will all mean in relation to my moving forward and to my accepting that some things were absent from my youth because I was a closeted gay man until I was almost 30 years old. The hard truth is that I can’t go back to being 17 again, and I will never be 21 and in college again, but I did just turn 33 and some would say that is still pretty young. I still have some youthful experiences ahead of me.

But it’s not really the youth that truly matters, is it? Maybe it’s just the innocence and authenticity that really attracted me to these two young men. Something tells me if I look hard enough there is still some of that to be found in this world, even in a man in his 30’s. I just need to hold on to the positive traits I once had in my youth and mix them well with the lessons of my older age. And maybe there is a man out there whose love will make me feel like a teenager again, while also making me feel like an adult in all the right ways. A perfect combination.

It could happen.

water

This is a picture from a truly amazing film about teenage love titled ‘Boys’ – released in 2014. Click on this image to go to its IMDB Page.

 

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Versions of Adam

overlapping faces

Drawing by artist Angie H. Iver

I’ve been thinking about different versions of myself lately.

Our lives and memories are made up of so many moments, so many images of ourselves that stand out, so many versions of who we have been.

I’ve been thinking about a version of Adam pictured in a polaroid hanging on a wall in my parents’ basement. In it, Adam is four years old and he’s wearing a light blue hospital hat and mask. His parents brought them home from the hospital along with his new baby brother. Most of his face is covered but you can tell he is smiling. His large smile shows even behind the mask. He looks happy, safe and loved.

I’ve been thinking about a version of Adam right after his third round of chemo. In this time period it was a Monday and he had made plans to meet some college friends for dinner that Wednesday. It was to be a much needed escape from his cancer reality. But he found out that Monday morning that the reason his tailbone had been hurting so much was that he had developed some odd viral cyst back there. In a completely healthy 21-year-old the virus would have been easily warded off with no symptoms. But his white blood cell count was too low and the unlucky combination caused havoc. He was in pain. He didn’t know if his cancer was gone yet. And he had to cancel the Wednesday plans with his friends because he wasn’t healthy enough to be around germ-covered people. In this version of Adam in my memory he just finished slamming a kitchen utensil off the kitchen counter, nicking it in his rage, and was now laying in a sideways ball on the floor crying because his tailbone hurt too much to sit on the floor. He feels defeated and absolutely terrified.

I’ve been thinking about a version of Adam from yesterday. He is in the middle of a lunch rush at a busy family diner where he waiters. He has just walked into the dishwashing room to sort out several dirty dishes, spoons and cups before heading out to take his sixth table’s order. He is tired, his knees hurt, he feels frustrated and wants to go home. He can’t escape this hatred towards himself for leading his life in this direction. For making decisions that placed him here in this moment, when so many other moments could have been better. He feels like he failed. Like he is failing. He has to go back out there and see what the annoying lady in the red shirt and her awful husband want for lunch. And then he has to serve it to them, put up with their attitudes, and mix them milkshakes at the end for desert just so they can leave him a shitty $3.00 tip and he can feel like a failure. This version of Adam is sad.

many faces

Artwork by Felipe Fox

There is a version of Adam on his first day of college. The sun is shining on his face on this perfect day. He is so awake. So excited. So hopeful. So ready to meet new people. To make new friends.

There is a version of Adam in his boxers in the dorm room of his first boy hookup in college. He’s smiling. He just finished kissing the boy who has adorable brown hair and killer blue eyes. He is nervous and excited. His stomach has butterflies in it.

There is a version of Adam laughing so hard with friends in college that he has tears running down his face.

There is a version of Adam who feels so exhausted during a CrossFit workout, but proud of himself just for being there. For pushing himself.

There is a version of Adam at a 19-year-old fraternity brother’s funeral staring into the casket thinking how unfair this is, and how alive his friend’s body still looks, and that the funeral home styled his friend’s hair completely wrong.

There is a version of Adam playing Monopoly with a childhood friend.

And another version of Adam swinging so high on a playground swing that his stomach is flipping.

There is a version of Adam stepping off of a plane in London, England.

And another version of Adam holding his new puppy for the first time.

Then there is this version of Adam right now. At this very second typing this post with tears in his eyes.

I don’t know who this version of Adam is yet.

In some ways, I understand every version of Adam I listed, except this last one.

I’m not sure what to do with him next…

What version of Adam do I want to be tomorrow when I wake up?

mirror and faces

Rainbow Colored Resolutions

rainbow new yearWelcome, Gentle Reader! I send you the sincerest of wishes for a Happy and Hope-Filled New Year! It was 12 months ago that I felt called to return to this blog and continue to write about my experiences of being a gay man and with coming out of my closet. Though my blogging has been sporadic, it has been therapeutic and wonderfully fulfilling. I’ve met some amazing people, many of them fellow bloggers, and now I truly feel less alone on my journey towards understanding and self-acceptance. I can’t express in words how much that has meant to me, and continues to mean to me.

Exploring myself through these posts over the last year has been such an amazing way to revisit my fears, my successes, and my lessons related to my coming out process. I cannot claim to know what 2015 will hold in store for this blog and for me, but I am hopeful and optimistic. And, as I have mentioned many times before, Gentle Reader, feeling Hope is very important. In today’s post I would like to share with you my resolutions for the New Year.

resolutionsAdam Resolution #1: Feel less Isolated and Lonely.

In many ways for me, 2014 was the year of my blog. As 2013 came to a close, I was feeling creatively stifled and trapped in my predominately straight world. I had verbally stated to everyone in my everyday life that I was gay, but I was still ‘In Search’ of what that meant to me inside. I wanted to start really talking about it. I hit the ground running on January 1st by exploring ‘how to become a better blogger’ and by writing my first new post on this blog. The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, as December 2014 was coming to a close I found myself looking back at what I did for the past 12 months. I concluded, other than writing for my blog (which trust me, my process for writing my long and researched blog posts is lengthy :-)), I didn’t do a whole hell of a lot. I am thrilled to be able to say I put significant time into this blog. It is worthwhile and I love it. But what else did I do in 2014?

Let’s see: I worked at a job that I don’t hate but I certainly don’t love, I read only 4 books, was a groomsman in two weddings (processes unfortunately more torturous than fun), and watched a lot of movies and television. When I try to think of events and moments that stand out from the year… I can’t. I am drawing an almost complete blank on what I did to better myself in 2014 other than blogging.

When I really think about it, I spent a significant amount of 2014 alone at my house. Now there is nothing wrong with alone time. I find it very comforting and helpful in my development process as an individual. But in 2015 I want more interactions with people. I want to continue blogging, but I also want to better myself through some more socially centered processes as well. It’s time to take living outside the walls of my house.

gay flags friendsAdam Resolution #2: Have a little more Gay in my life.

Specifically, I want to have more interactions with other gay people.

In 2014 I talked a lot about being gay. In 2015 I would like to continue to talk about it, while also doing a little more ‘gay’ living as well. Does that make sense?

I want to really own being a gay man this year. I want to feel more empowered in my role as a member of this gay community. Maybe even start dating…god forbid. It would be nice to find a special someone who thinks about me first when he wakes up in the morning and smiles when he pictures my face. It’s time to gay up my daily activities a little.

man's back2Adam Resolution #3: Start living in my body again.

In 2013 I was an active and enthusiastic member of a CrossFit box. I was working out multiple times a week and loving it. In 2014 this ended. There are multiple reasons behind its ending, none of which are relevant to this post, but as a result I spent most of 2014 over-eating, not exercising and sitting on my ass.

I know that this lack of physicality affected my overall mood and movability in 2014. Losing my CrossFit friends definitely lead me to feel more alone and somewhat sad. But this lack of movement also made me feel like my body wasn’t mine. It feels stagnant, lumpy and foreign.

It’s time to take my body back in 2015. I know that every one and their brother make a resolution to eat right and work out more in the new year. That is not what I am professing to do. I will be exercising alone, without my CrossFit box, and in some ways this will make the process harder, but I feel drawn to doing it alone at this moment.

I think there is something to be learned in picking my chubbier, less coordinated body up, brushing it off, and reclaiming it solo. Doing it on my own terms. I know it won’t be easy, but at least my body will be proud of me for starting to move.

Film SchoolAdam Resolution #4: Film School & My Future.

I’m currently working two jobs to save up money. I have three monetary goals in 2015. To reduce my debt, save up to finally move out of my parent’s house, and get accepted into a local film program while paying for it with cash. The film classes will start in September. To get accepted into the program I will have to apply in the spring. It’s a long shot with a lot of hard work, but it is so nice to be moving towards a goal that I want again.

One of the things I did accomplish in 2014 was to spend time thinking and contemplating my future. It may not look like much in the physical realm, but for me, these thought processes are real and necessary, and may be the driving force behind why my 2015 will be better and brighter. Happy New Year, Gentle Reader. Let’s make it one to remember!

The 10 Worst Things About Being Gay and Trying to Date in a Small Town

Deserted Small Town

  1. Lack of Variety: The gay population is so small that I see the same guys over and over every time I go out. I am just as bored with continuously seeing them as they are with continuously seeing me.
  2. We have one gay bar: The slogan for my local gay bar feels less like “You want to go where everybody knows your name” and more like “You are stuck going where everybody already knows your personal business”.
  3. No Culture: There are hardly any cultural or artistic events anywhere near me (unless if I want to drive over an hour away). This is frustrating to me because art and the like interest me and it would be thrilling to meet a man who is drawn to similar occurrences. I long to stumble across a handsome boyfriend while at a museum, concert, outside festival, or social club.
  4. Gay-ville. Population of 1: In my every day, normal functioning I feel like a black sheep. The small sampling of people around me is predominately heterosexual. As a result, I end up feeling like I am the only gay person who exists for miles.
  5. The Constantly Visible Ex: Around here, after a breakup, if you still choose to go out on the town to the local gay ‘spot’, you get to see your ex-boyfriend over and over and over. As an added bonus, eventually you will get to see him with his new boyfriend. Ugh.
  6. These Straight People are Crowding Me: As I mentioned, most of the public places I would take any date to in this small town are filled with heterosexuals. Gay men, and thus physical affection between two men, are still foreign and make most of these people uncomfortable. This makes any attempt to be flirty and affectionate in public extremely difficult and awkward.
  7. No Gay Box Office: None of the local movie theaters host any gay themed films. Of course most gay films are independently made and have no major film production company as their distributer. These limited releases are usually restricted to large cities. So, the gayest film I can hope to see is the occasional shirtless Mark Wahlberg or Channing Tatum epic.gay social apps
  8. Gay App Hell: Any attempt to use gay, cellphone apps to meet local men to date in a small town are almost completely pointless and torturous. Most of the small town guys are closeted and thus their profile photos are headless body shots and their descriptions are blank or only seeking NSA (No Strings Attached) fun. And humorously the closeted men are one of the better finds. The even more frustrating ones seem to be the bi-curious and experimenting (which means they have a girlfriend they aren’t telling you about and they just want to get off), the married guy only looking for a friend with benefits (FWB), and the 90-year-old man who simply asks you, “Want a BJ?”. Around here, most of the single, desirable, younger, gay men with fantastic jobs have moved to a bigger city in search of a more fulfilling day and night life. To make it more frustrating every time you sign on you are confronted with the same dead-end profiles day after day after day. (It case it is not blazingly obvious yet, repetition is one of the killers in small town life.)
  9. Boring Men Everywhere: I don’t fancy myself a wannabe resident of my small town until the day I die. One day I hope for more interesting surroundings. There is literally nothing to do here that interests me. So, if I finally met a local gay man, and he is happy living in this boring area and aspires to nothing more exciting than this place, then why in the hell would I want to date him in the first place? Even if I find a local man that I really like, I don’t want my relationship with him to trap me here.
  10. That Old Familiar Feeling: To be completely fair, there are many wonderful and positive factors to living in a small town. I speak from my own experience and, personally, I grew up feeling trapped in this small town. Now as an adult, I have temporarily moved back here while I get on my feet financially. And even though so much time has passed, the not so positive affect this place has on me unfortunately has not changed very much. I know they say it is the person, not the place, that is the problem. But isn’t it possible that, sometimes, the place is at least a little bit of the problem? Is this place too small for me to comfortably breathe in?Feeling Trapped

What Does it Mean to be a Man?

Man SignAs a gay man, sometimes I feel unsure of, and insecure about, my place in this world. A fact I have discussed many times within the pages of this blog. In so many ways I am still finding my footing in this life. I am still figuring out where I fit. Where I best belong. Who I want to be. What kind of man I am. What does it mean to be a man in the first place?

Though I am getting better at it, I am still in the habit of spending too much time comparing myself to other men. In the past, the differences I have seen between them and myself have led me to question my masculine identity. I never recognized John Wayne’s ever present calm in myself, and I never saw Marlon Brando’s handsome and stern composure reflected back at me in the mirror. Are such discrepancies reasons to feel shame?

In today’s post I am turning my search inward to explore my struggle with a seemingly simple question, “What does it mean to be a man?”

50's sitcom fatherDoes a man’s demeanor make him a man?

As a child, I suppose I began to create an image of a man from the steadfast and know-it-all fathers, cowboys, detectives and superheroes I saw on TV. These men were always calm, strong, and confident right down to their physical stance. But they were also caring and affectionate towards their wives, children and mothers.  They were compassionate, but not soft. When they smiled, or laughed, it was for good reason.

Men were pillars. They held the rest of us up with their broad chest pushed out and their fists clenched. They were always prepared for a fight if necessary. If these men had any personal doubts they handled them internally and the worry was hardly ever shown on their face. Perhaps most importantly, they seemed to feel no fear. Almost nothing rattled them. Stress was not a word in their vocabulary.

Having never felt much like a calm pillar of strength or a confident presence devoid of worry, I always seemed to miss these marks. My history of anxiety and fear related to my imperfect past and my uncertain future rattle me on a regular basis. Stress is a part of my daily reality and I frequently appear to be coming unglued. As a result, I’ve never found my demeanor to be one which other men should envy.

Rich Froning AthleticismDoes a man’s athleticism or his competitiveness make him a man?

Is it just me, or are the handsome, confident, well-built men always good at sports? As a child, I was always running away from situations that placed me in athletic environments. I never relieved stress by shooting hoops, or by calling up the guys to play touch football out back. I never felt comfortable in these environments, and worse yet they filled me with fear of looking stupid or inadequate. Sports and me always felt wrong. My mother’s compassion and hugs were always more inviting to me then a basketball coach screaming at me for not dribbling well or not scoring enough points at practice.

I never understood other boys’ competitive natures when it came to sports. Why did they always feel that they had sometime to prove? Where did their obsession with declaring themself the strongest boy come from? I never felt the need to push myself to earn these silly status points.

Though sports never interested me, my avoidance of them always seemed to leave a feeling of inadequacy within me. I barely know how to throw a football and others judge me for it. People, even my close friends, find my lack of sports trivia knowledge hilarious. They tease me about this ignorance and at times I can hear in their voices that they find lack of sports knowledge as tiresome as it is odd. It makes me less of someone they can relate to. Less of a regular guy. Does not knowing how to pronounce the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback’s last name really make me less of a man?

Man and His FriendsDo a man’s masculine friends help establish him as a man?

I pledged to a fraternity in college. Talk about being surrounded by men and huge levels of testosterone. Most of my fraternity brothers were water polo players, swimmers, lacrosse players or simply huge lovers of weight lifting. I was intimidated by pretty much every one of them upon our first meeting. Eventually, I felt cooler being friends with so many “guys’ guys”. I felt manlier by association.

Even though I started coming out to friends long after college had ended, I was literally terrified to tell my fraternity brothers that I was gay. I felt that admitting I was gay, and therefore engaged in anal sex with another man, would by this very definition force them to view me as less masculine. I feared that they would suddenly feel uncomfortable around me and be fearful that I would always be checking them out and waiting to flirt with them. I was convinced that their rejection would crush me.

Turns out I did not give my fraternity brothers enough credit. Most of them were so unaffected by my being gay that the conversation about it was borderline boring. If their reaction was at all emotional it was because they were being congratulatory and supportive. Since they are my manly, masculine friends, even now that they know I am gay, does that make me more of a man?

Superman Saving Lois LaneDoes a man’s love for a woman make him a man?

Male superheroes like Superman are some of the cornerstone ideals of enviable masculine power. It doesn’t get much more manly than Superman. And look at the things that make him a man: his body, his voice, his saving women from burning buildings, and his girlfriend Lois Lane.

All our super masculine male role models have them; their beautiful leading ladies. James Bond had all his Bond girls. Clark Gable had that amazing kiss with Vivien Leigh. Indiana Jones got every woman he every saved with his leather whip. Even Rocky’s victory meant more when he also rescued the cripplingly shy Adrian with his love.

We all love the image of a handsome man saving a beautiful woman, his chiseled jaw smiling down at her as he leads her to safety. But there is more to the equation than just that. These women are all perfect matches for their men. They are the perfect feminine counterparts to the men’s enviable masculinity. Any man who is worth his salt has a woman to rescue. These women’s love makes the man more of a man, right?

James Dean the ManSo what kind of a man am I?

Well, Gentle Reader, my face frequently registers a look of worry across it, I’m more awkward than athletic, and I have no interest in rescuing a woman from any burning building. In fact, since I am gay, many of my most eccentric fantasies have a sexy, masculine man rescuing me. Despite these things, I assure you I am a man.

For better or worse, the concept of ‘what it means to be a man’ is a constantly evolving phenomenon in our society. Professional athletes are now gay, comic books are beginning to include physically strong, LGBT characters, and television fathers are starting to kiss other men goodnight at the end of their difficult work days. Nowadays, one man’s love, plus another man’s love, can equal a masculine man in the same way that a man’s love, plus a woman’s love, always has.

In the world of film, Sean Connery displayed a very different James Bond than Daniel Craig, just as Christopher Reeve fulfilled a different image of Superman than Henry Cavill. In our modern adaptations, both James Bond and Superman do not instantly appear to know all the answers for solving the problems they are presented with. Sometimes their foreheads even wrinkle with worry and their faces frown from uncertainty. Imperfection in a man is becoming as admirable as perfection once was.

I suppose that if vulnerability and mistakes can be a reality for even our strongest of heroes and male role models, than I can begin to accept myself for my personal and modern day version of “Adam masculinity”. Perhaps I can take all of my above listed questions and become my own, valid answer for each. Perhaps I can simply be the kind of man I am, and one day that will be enough for me.

In Search of a Gay Film Review: The Covenant

the covenant movie posterHappy Halloween, Everyone! The film The Covenant broke into theaters in 2006. The film was negatively reviewed by critics, and not taken very seriously by true lovers of the horror genre either. The film would have certainly disappeared into the ever-expanding, lackluster, horror movie black hole if not for it’s one saving grace: copious amounts of sexy, shirtless men. Like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, another horror film I recently reviewed, the internet and its users have repeatedly accused The Covenant of being one of the gayest horror films ever made. An accusation which, of course, peaks my interest. So, Gentle Reader, light your jack-o’-lantern, grab yourself some candy, and get ready to become excited as we once again ask ourselves, “Is this the gayest horror movie ever made?

Full Title & Vital Stats:
The Covenant (2006)
Rated PG-13
Directed by Renny Harlin who also directed A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger & Deep Blue Sea
Notable Actors: Steven Strait, Taylor Kitsch, Sebastian Stan, Chance Crawford, Laura Ramsey, Jessica Lucas

photo courtesy of outnow.ch

photo courtesy of outnow.ch

Film Synopsis:

Caleb Danvers and his three best friends are handsome, popular and mysterious. Other teenagers in their prep high school jokingly refer to them as the Sons of Ipswich. Everyone knows they are descendants of the five families, which founded their town of, also named Ipswich. What no one realizes is that their families were part of a 17th century witch’s coven and that makes each of them living warlocks. They possess powers, which will drastically increase on their 18th birthdays. Suddenly strange occurrences begin to happen and a battle must be fought to prevent their powers from being stolen and their loved ones from being hurt by an evil force intent on no good.

Jumping right into my Adam film stats. Once again, plot spoilers follow.

Provost HigginsThe Film’s Most Annoying/Worst Character:

Provost Higgins. This character knows things he should have no way of knowing and uses his authority to encourage things he should have no control over nor any interest in; like Caleb and Chase hanging out. He also completely ignores important information like Chase’s student ID being found in a dead student’s car. That seems like important information that a person of authority would want to share with the police. He is obviously a horrible provost and a badly written character.

Sebastian StanThe Film’s Best Character:

Sebastian Stan is having the most fun in this film with his character Chase. He is devilish and diabolical, but at least he is interesting. The motivation for his actions may be oddly intense and a little too crazy for belief, but Stan’s above par acting keeps us watching to see what he does next. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that his eyes kind of twinkle when he smiles.

Film’s Coolest Scene:

Caleb’s car having a head-on collision with a truck transporting logs. He uses his powers to break the car apart piece by piece so that the pieces can avoid the crash and reconnect themselves on the other side. Very well done. An effect that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before on screen. Runner up goes to Sarah’s nightmare scene with all the spiders. It legitimately made me squirm. I hate spiders!

Chase and CalebThe Film’s Worst Elements:

Character realism is lacking in this film. I noticed several instances of background extras, secondary characters, and even main characters acting in ways that real people would not, simply to serve the plot. One example is Caleb’s sudden buddy-buddy feelings towards Chase. One would expect a man with Caleb’s supernatural background to be more suspicious of strangers who suddenly latch on to him and his friends right as new, problematic events begin to happen. (Unless if we want to attribute Caleb’s fast interest in Chase to be a teenage crush.)

Speaking of Caleb warming to new people improbably quick, Caleb and Sarah’s romance feels too intense too fast. The script just doesn’t allow enough time to develop it with everything else going on and certainly contains no stellar dialogue to explain why they fall for each other so hard and so quick. This film’s acting is not awful; the script is just poorly written.

Perhaps the films’ worst offenses were the unrealistically vacant dorm hallways and restrooms. Much of this plot’s action and creep factor depend on the main characters being alone. In order to accomplish this the filmmakers simply dispel realism to create completely vacant environments which on any normal school campus would be busy and almost never devoid of at least one student coming or going. These 7 main characters exist in a impractically lonely and isolated world. 

THE COVENANTHow Effective are the Film’s Special Effects & Gore?

The film’s special effects and CGI are above average. There is one not so impressive CGI scene towards the beginning of the film where Caleb jumps off a cliff and for a second you feel like you are watching a video game character fall. Otherwise, the effects helped support the story and make it more interesting. Barring the final standoff, which I explain in more detail later.

Sets/Costumes/Realism:

The set design and locations that make up these characters’ worlds are beautiful and realistic. The characters dress well and appropriate for 2006. The sets were obviously of a decent budget and entertaining to look at. The film has a dark blue and gloomy feel to it most of the time and it works well to create an intense yet somber backdrop.

the covenant guysMale Eye Candy: Almost every man in this film is fun to look at. This cast reads like an Abrecrombie and Fitch catalogue. The film’s creators know this and use the beautiful flesh to their advantage. Even when the men are not shirtless they, for some reason, find it logical to wear wife beaters and sleeveless shirts to drink at a bar in autumn. Realism is once again sacrificed, but this time in order to better display the gun show.

Steven Strait is sans shirt in multiple scenes and he obviously spends time at the gym. Luckily the plot places the warlocks on the swim team so we get several scenes of each guy in sexy speedos. Perhaps most notable is a shower/locker room scene with ample amounts of male flesh on display. Strategically placed fog keeps us from seeing ‘the goods’ but the entire scene still feels deliciously homoerotic.

sarah towelFemale Eye Candy: Both Laura Ramsey & Jessica Lucas spend a ridiculous amount of air time walking around in skimpy nighties, revealing sleepwear, and tiny undies. Laura spends several scenes wearing just a towel and while she is in the shower we see her bare back to just above her ass. We see a full silhouette of her body from the back but only through foggy glass.

the covenant final battleThe Final Standoff Between Good & Evil:

Subpar. Though the visuals were well done for 2006, they were boring. Caleb’s ascending, which the entire film is building up to, turns out to be undistinguished and unimpressive. Even the battle choreography barely entertained me. It was like watching the same shot over, and over, and over. There is nothing ‘climactic’ about this final battle.

Do I recommend this film?

The Covenant has plenty of faults, especially with its script. This film is obviously more about eye candy and looking good than about plot and character development. Many characters are pigeon holed, predictable and one dimensional. Like Taylor Kitsch’s hot headed character Pogue, who places himself in a dangerous situation even though he should know better than to do so. But I guess his temper is just so bad that it throws all logic out the window in order to serve the underdeveloped plot.

However, if you lower your expectations just a little, all in all the film is kind of fun. I do not hate it. It was pretty to look at. Also, the Wiccan style magic was intriguing. But I must admit, I do find myself wondering, if everyone wasn’t so amazing to look at, would I still revisit the film every so often?

stan absIs The Covenant the gayest horror movie ever made?

In my opinion, The Covenant may not be as explicitly gay as A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, but it is a solid runner up. Caleb’s fondness of his stunningly handsome, male friends, and his aversion to wearing shirts, does appear very homosexual on the surface. Any man who is constantly half naked with his male friends will eventually raise an eyebrow or two.

But in all honesty, if I delve deeper into the relationship symbolism within this film I find The Covenant to be more bisexual than gay. The character of Caleb is experiencing many internal and external changes. He is on the brink of adulthood and ascending. In the midst of these young hormones and supernatural forces coursing through his veins he is presented with two enticing and possible mates: Sarah and Chase.

It is the oldest story in the book. Caleb, on one hand is attracted to Sarah’s simplicity and safeness, and on the other hand he is drawn to Chase’s complexity and danger. Both Sarah and Chase are drawn to Caleb’s extreme life force and both even end up kissing him at some point (though Chase and Caleb’s kiss is short and arguably seems to have a mocking nature to it).

Notably though, there is no sex between Caleb and Sarah. Perhaps he must decide which team he plays for before he can make that kind of commitment. In the end, The Covenant falls somewhere between an examination of bi-curious college exploration and a voyeuristic scanning of a really hot issue of Men’s Health magazine.

the covenant gay kiss

10 Horror Movie Hunks Who Greatly Affected My Impressionable Years

As I mentioned in my earlier post – 5 Reasons Why Horror Movies are Some of My Favorite Things– horror films provide an extensive variety of handsome, shirtless men in all kinds of homoerotic situations. They are guilty eye candy for the homosexual eye. This titillating truth is just one of the many valid reasons that myself, as a gay man, loves to watch them. Of course each film’s monster loves to push his way to the front, but first he has to make it past the leading man’s pecs. I have been watching horror movies for a long time and lusting after their male protagonists for just as long. Here, Gentle Reader, is a list of the 10 Horror Movie Hunks who had the greatest effect on Adam during his most impressionable years of development as a gay man. (Warning – slight, plot spoilers may exist below)

David Naughton10. David Naughton in An American Werewolf in London (1981) – Many people may feel that David was an atypical leading man and an odd choice for my number 10, but something about him always intrigued me. He may have been smaller in stature than the other men on my list, but he was very likable and sexy in an almost dorky way. The transformation scene where he becomes a werewolf for the first time is legendary. I give him props for spending so much time in this amazing film naked. He pulled those scenes off very nicely, and his superior acting skills made me sympathetic towards his character’s unfortunate fate.

Jesse Williams9. Jesse Williams in Cabin in the Woods (2012) – Granted, this film came out only 2 ½ years ago so it did not have an effect on me in my younger, more impressionable years. But have you seen Jesse Williams’ abs? He is such a presence in this film that it is almost difficult to decide whether he looks hotter in his adorable glasses or without his shirt on. The gorgeous Chris Hemsworth is also present in this film, but for me, the sex appeal is all about Jesse in this above par horror movie.

John Sheperd8. John Sheperd in Friday the 13th: Part 5: A New Beginning (1985) – John Sheperd is not an actor who’s career reached many impressive heights after his part in Friday the 13th: Part 5, and his mediocre acting in Part 5 helps to explain why. But his body left a lasting impression on me forever. His shirtless scene in the film lasts only for a minute, but the view we get of his abs, his shoulders, and his arms, helps explain why he was cast in the first place. Otherwise, let’s just say it’s a good thing that his character barely speaks through the entire rest of the film.

Nick Stabile7. Nick Stabile in Bride of Chucky (1998) – Nick Stabile is a horrendous actor. His dialogue delivery only has one uninspired level and it always comes out sounding flat. To add insult to injury, his characters always seem to look like pouty little boys even though they are in their mid-20’s. But in Bride of Chucky his biceps are certainly not flat, and his chest certainly does not make me pout. When this film is on cable TV I do end up focusing on Nick, and I think we have established that is not because of his stellar acting.

HW-02866. Chad Michael Murray in House of Wax (2005) – I developed a crush on Chad Michael Murray during his stint on season 5 of Dawson’s Creek. Over the years his upper body held up well, and when he took his shirt off for the big screen in House of Wax, viewers were not disappointed. House of Wax was a decent horror remake with an absorbing plot and decent suspense from beginning to end. Though I liked Chad better with his longer, feathery, yellow/white, Dawson’s Creek hair, he still had something worthwhile in his presence here. Perhaps it is his intensity on screen. And his nipples. Show me a more beautiful set of nipples on an actor. I dare you.

Mike Vogel5. Mike Vogel in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) – We live in an age of horror movie remakes; some good and some horrible. Still, as a long time horror movie fan, I was thrilled about this 2003 Texas Chainsaw re-envisioning, and it did not disappoint. I loved this movie’s suspense, it’s gore, and it’s thrills. But imagine my added surprise when it introduced me to the stunning Mike Vogel. The way his sweaty body commanded the screen in that dirty wife beater filled me with extra sadness when he advantageous character disappeared from the plot. I have followed his handsome career ever since. Has anyone else seen him in the 2009 thriller Across the Hall? God was he hot in that movie, as well!

Chrisitan Bale4. Christian Bale in American Psycho (2000) – In honor of full disclosure, I find the Christian Bale of the last ten years to be extremely annoying. He has become too over exposed and every time I turn around I am being forced to hear his same gruff voice that ruined the new Batman trilogy for me. So, personally, I’m about ready for him to go away. That being said, his physique in the film American Psycho earns him any fame and fortune that life has brought him since. I am hard pressed to think of a horror movie leading man whose body ever looked this sculpted. He resembles an ancient greek marble sculpture. Patrick Bateman is the role I prefer to remember him for. Besides, American Psycho is super fun and Bale really has a great time with this insane and eccentric character. His Huey Lewis speech before he murders Jared Leto is marvelous!

Kevin Bernhardt3. Kevin Bernhardt in Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth (1992) – The Hellraiser films are in a league of their own. So many layers of meaning exist below the plots and within the characters. Clive Barker is one of my favorite movie directors, and the fact that he is openly gay does not hurt his case at all. Though Barker did not direct Hellraiser 3, and though it is an inferior film to the first two, Barker’s presence and dark sexuality are still present and intoxicating to those who think outside of the box. Kevin Bernhardt’s marvelous body and spot on portrayal of the narcissistic night club owner J.P. Monroe is sexy for all the wrong reasons. J.P. is selfish, self-centered, and evil, but his sexual darkness feels right at home in a Hellraiser film. His 90’s hair cut, his muscles, and his large, black undies are forever etched into my brain, for better or worse.

Bradley Stryker2. Bradley Stryker in The Brotherhood (2001)The Brotherhood, directed by David DeCoteau, is one of the worst horror films I have ever seen. In fact it can barely be considered ‘horror’. It takes bad filmmaking to a new height. The film barely has any plot at all and the characters spend more time aimlessly walking or jogging around through long, pointless, slow motion shots than they do talking. There is no suspense and nothing of relevance here; except for Bradley Stryker in his black boxer briefs. Visually he has stuck with me since my first viewing of this otherwise pathetic film. Bradley has one of those unrealisticly, muscular builds that reminds me of my old He-Man action figures. His waist seems too small for how wide and beefed up his chest is, yet the disproportion is sexy as hell and breath stealing.

Ryan Phillippe1. Ryan Phillippe in I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) – There is not a single scene in any horror movie that has excited me more completely than Ryan Phillippe’s locker room, towel scene in I Know What You Did Last Summer. This places it, with no contest, at my number 1! I can still remember watching the film for the first time in the movie theater. A female friend had dragged me to see it and I was unenthused. I thought the film looked dumb and I had no interest in watching Jennifer Love Hewitt‘s gigantic breasts bounce around for 2 hours on the big screen. Most horror movies have shower scenes with busty females. I remember my heart jumping into my throat when I realized that, this time, Ryan Phillippe was the person in the shower right in front of me. And when his tight, defined body walked on screen wearing only that towel I thought my heart was going to officially explode. I remember being so excited that horror movies were finally starting to place men’s bodies center stage for longer periods of time than they had in the past. A part of me fell in love with Ryan Phillippe during that movie. Just like that, he became one of my favorite male actors’ bodies ever, and he remains so to this very day.