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

Looking Forward to the Second Season of ‘Looking’

Looking Season 2 PosterIn preparation for the fast approaching second season of HBO’s Looking I revisited Season 1 from start to finish. In a previous post, I discussed Season 1’s first 5 episodes, but after a thorough rehashing of Looking’s entire 8 episode freshman season I not only wanted to revisit and further explore a few points, but I also decided to share some things I want to see MORE of in Season 2.

  • Patrick a.k.a. Me?

PatrickUnfortunately, as I mentioned in my previous Looking Review, Patrick really does remind me of myself in numerous ways. These similarities concern me because, despite some redeeming qualities, Patrick can be unattractively nervous, clumsy, uncomfortable in his skin, naïve, and slightly superficial. Neither he nor I have been in a long-term relationship and, yes, sometimes when I’m on a date I need a few alcoholic drinks in me to fully relax.

The further I delved into Season 1, the more things I realized we have in common. I do not love Patrick as a person or as a character. I suppose we are both still maturing as characters. Hopefully, Patrick has some redeeming moments in the new season.

  • Episode 1 is still a snore fest

On my second viewing of the series’ first episode I found myself not having much of a reaction. Come to think of it, I didn’t have much of a reaction to it the first time around. Here is to hoping that the Season 2 opener will be more engaging and interesting.

  • Richie: My Perfect Man

Patrick and RichieI have come to love Raúl Castillo. My heart jumps a little when he steps on screen. He is so cute, but more importantly I love how he portrays Richie. For that matter, and to give the writers due credit, I love how Richie is written. Richie is so centered. So rational. So emotionally stable. So strong. And to top it all off, he is a good dancer.

For me, Richie improves the entire show. His presence makes Patrick better and less annoying. Every one of my favorite scenes from the first season had Richie in them. I am the most excited to revisit Richie’s character in Season 2 to see what happens for him next.

  • My Favorite Scene from Season 1

In case anyone was wondering, my favorite scene from Season 1 is the planetarium scene from Richie and Patrick’s Episode 5 date. It was real and heartfelt, filled with true moments of two people connecting.

  • My Second Favorite Scene from Season 1

My second favorite scene from Season 1 is when Richie confronts/talks to Patrick outside his place in Episode 8. Patrick has just gotten back from making a wrong decision and the audience gets to watch him immaturely try to justify his actions by telling Richie, “I thought you said you didn’t want to talk to me ever again.” (As though he truly thought it was okay to sleep with Kevin because he and Richie would never speak again.) Richie clarifies, “I didn’t say that.” And then he calls Patrick out on his mistakes and his not being ready for a real relationship. I admired Richie’s strength in this scene. He stands his ground and is very brave to tell Patrick how he feels. I hope his ability to project honesty and to speak the truth rubs off on Patrick in season 2.

  • Let’s see less Agustín

Agustín continued to get more unlikeable and reprehensible as Season 1 progressed. He was constantly trying to scare and intimidate Patrick. By the end of Episode 8, I did not want to hear Agustín’s voice for one more second and I was literally tired of seeing his face. I clapped when Franklin finally told him off. Agustín’s entire presence is toxic and unlikable. Is it Frankie Alvarez’s fault that I hate Agustín, or is this the way the writers want me to feel about him? I hope we are either exposed to much less of this character in Season 2 or that his personality is drastically altered.

  • Kevin: The More Dangerous Choice

In Episode 4, Patrick and Kevin spend a lot of time together during the day of the Folsom Street Fair. I remember when I first watched this episode last year I wanted Patrick and Kevin to have sex. I wanted to see Kevin/Russel Tovey naked. Plus, I thought Kevin seemed sweet and enduring. Now after having watched the entire first season, I can’t shake the feeling that the character of Kevin is sort of slimy and not to be trusted. I cannot feel good about how he pursued Patrick while he was so involved with his current boyfriend. And I didn’t like how he immediately seemed less interested in Patrick after he got what he wanted: sex. I love Russel Tovey, his British accent, and his adorable ears, but my jury is still out on Kevin. Besides I am Team Richie 100%!

Looking SquaresNow let’s explore my hopes for the new season, or put another way, in Season 2 I want MORE…

1. Doris a.k.a. Lauren Weedman. She is funny, likable, insightful and intelligent.

Lauren Weeman

2. Friendships. I want to see more intimate layers exposed behind these friendships. I want some friendship high and low points that I can relate to and enjoy watching.

3. New Characters. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new character of Eddie, played by Daniel Franzese of Mean Girls fame, factors into the new season.

Mean Girls Guy

4. Richie. Along with more development of this character and hopefully more scenes of him dancing.

5. Dom, Lynn and Love. Lynn has a calming presence and he brings out good things in Dom. Besides, I’m curious to see how this relationship blossoms between two older gay men.Dom and love6. Romance in General. I’m a sucker for some romantic sparks and relationships I can envy. Maybe this show can usher me back into dating.

7. Skin. Let’s up the quota for hot, male shirtlessness and nudity if you don’t mind. (more of Russell Tovey or Jonathan Groff‘s asses would not be a bad thing!)

looking skin

8. Time. I would love to see longer episode lengths, but I know that this is not going to happen. Looking’s creators have addressed this want from fans in numerous interviews. Alas, it looks like we will just have to deal with it and learn to feel satisfied in our tiny 30 minute fixes.

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!

A Letter to My Closeted Brothers and Sisters

letter to my gay brothers and sistersHello My Dear Friends,

I hope this correspondence finds you doing well. I hope that the sun is shining on your face and the wind is always at your back, as the saying goes. First off, I wanted to congratulate you for all of the positive progress you have made so far on your coming out journey.

You may be thinking, “I haven’t made any progress yet. I’m still completely hidden inside of my closet.” To this I say, you are not giving yourself enough credit. At the very least, you are realizing that you are not happy and completely satisfied in your closet. This is a step. It may seem small, but self-awareness is no small feat. Many people live their entire lives ignoring their internal gut instincts.

Your knowing that you wish for change proves that you have a rebel and a dreamer inside of you. I bet if you let your mind wander you imagine a life for yourself where you are not closeted. Visualization is key. Performing this visualizing has the chance to create hope within you. Hope is a powerful thing, My Friend.

Please take time to congratulate yourself on working as hard as you do. It is hard work to be closeted and still function at your job, with family, and with friends. In many ways, you are working twice as hard as the others around you just to perform the same tasks and to stay calm and centered. And all the while you may be blaming yourself for being who you are and acting as you do.

Please let yourself off of the hook for any lies you may have told friends, family and co-workers to hide who you truly are. These things do not make you a bad person. You are merely surviving in the only way you can think to at the present moment. To some extent, everyone exists as two different people; the version of themselves they know to be true inside and the version of themselves which they share with everyone else. No one else ever knows who we completely are from our core to our outside.

Lies and secrets happen. One lesson I can share with you from my personal, coming out journey is that, when it is all said and done, none of that matters. Who cares? You can’t change the past. All you can control is what you are doing right at this moment. Let yourself off the hook for being so concerned with other people’s feelings. Let yourself off the hook for living your life more to please others than to please yourself. In actuality, it means you are a kind and good person. That, My Friend, is a positive thing.

If you have experienced negative responses from people who you have come out to, brush it off. In the end, pretending to be someone you are not, simply to serve the comfort level of someone narrow-minded and backwards, will never be a path to your personal happiness. Remember that these people’s reactions say more about them than they do about you. We are not meant to mesh well with everyone in this life. Don’t pressure yourself to be an exception from this reality.

I want you to give yourself credit for feeling fear. It may seem like a burden, but it has a place in this life. Fear can make us slow down, think about our moves carefully, and be an active, thoughtful driver behind the wheel of our life. Sticking with the car metaphor – remember that fear is a rear view mirror to help you consider your turns, but it is not the steering wheel by which you should actually make your moves. I will make the suggestion that Hope should be your steering wheel, or at least one of the ones that you use.

I wish I had words to better explain the moment where my internal light switch flipped for me and I suddenly cared more about my personal comfort level with my being gay than I did about everyone else’s feelings and reactions to it. I guess I shouldn’t describe it as a moment; it was really a long transition over several years and several instances of coming out to people. You will get there. One day you will look back at these internal monsters, which feel so huge and scary right now, and they will suddenly feel like tiny, non-threatening, stuffed animals.

Remember to give yourself time to become the person you are meant to be. We all start somewhere.

Remember to feel all the emotions that come with your journey: the fear, the joy, the sadness, and the satisfaction. When it is all said and done, the memories of these feelings will make you a better partner, when you find the love of your life, and simply a better person.

Remember to feel love for yourself. One day, you will see, you are doing just fine.

Chin Up. I have faith in you.

All My Love,

Adamfingers hug in support

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