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

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

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.

In Search of a Gay Film Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 Film PosterIn 1985 when A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 hit theaters, it was just another mainstream horror film. At the time, it was only the world’s second encounter with Freddy Krueger. The film starred mostly unknown actors and ended up performing very well by box office standards. However, almost 30 years later, most fans of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise consider Part 2 to be one of the worse, if not the worst, of the series. Still, bad does not necessarily equal boring; and if you Google search the film, you do not need to dig very deep to find one interesting accusation. Many accuse A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 of being littered with blatant, homosexual themes and not so subtle undertones. So today, Gentle Reader, I would like to not only review this film, but to explore the question ‘Is this the gayest horror movie ever made?

Full Title & Vital Stats:
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
Rated R
Directed by Jack Sholder who also directed Wishmaster 2 (1999) and Alone in the Dark (1982)
Notable Actors: Robert Englund, Mark Patton, Robert Rusler, Kim Myers

Film Synopsis:

Five years after the events of the first film, teenager Jesse Walsh and his family move into 1428 Elm Street. Jesse begins having nightmares and soon discovers that Freddy still exists in Nancy’s old house, and wants to escape the dream world by possessing Jesse’s body. Now Jesse, and his girlfriend Lisa, must figure out a way to stop Freddy’s evil plan and send him back to hell.

Be warned, if you have never seen this film, plot spoilers are included in this review.

Mark PattonJesse Walsh – A Man Possessed:

The opening scene of this film shows our protagonist Jesse riding on a school bus. Jesse sits alone; obviously uncomfortable, awkward and different from the other more relaxed and carefree teenagers. Two pretty, blond schoolgirls even being making fun of him, and this becomes our first impression of our leading man.

By pure coincidence, the character of Jesse Walsh was played by the then closeted, gay actor Mark Patton. Patton plays Jesse as whiny and distant, with a constant, wannabe pensive look on his face. Though Jesse’s road in this film is noticeably stressful, with the psychotic Freddy Krueger constantly taunting him, I still found his character to be very unlikeable. Jesse snaps at his friends constantly when they are simply trying to be helpful and kind, and yet he does nothing personally progressive to solve his own Freddy problem. He just spends the film complaining and screaming like a whiny coward.

Mark Patton is not typical leading man material, thus you have to question this film’s casting. Jesse is a character of contradictions. He appears to be an unlikeable dork, yet his best friend is a handsome jock and a popular, beautiful girl is actively pursuing him (though he continuously rebuffs her advances). So why would the director cast a physically awkward actor with no screen presence for such an important role? Is this director an idiot or was he insightfully trying to relay a message through Jesse as Freddy’s chosen victim? Perhaps a character such as Grady (who is more typical leading man material) would not have been as easily susceptible to Freddy’s influence. Does the blatancy of Jesse and Grady’s differences make a powerful statement about this leading man? If Jesse is a closeted gay character, lusting after a masculine, physical specimen like Robert Rusler would make sense.

LisaLisa Webber a.k.a. The Beard:

Lisa is probably my favorite character in this film. She is the most rational and intelligent. Annoyingly, the character of Lisa does all the grunt work and research on how to destroy Freddy while Jesse just stands around whining. Her character is the only one with any real sense.

Kim Myers plays Lisa as sweet, patient, and likable. I give Kim further props because she does the best work possible here with a weak script, novice dialogue, and a less than impressive male lead. A male lead who she can muster no sexual chemistry with. Does this lack of sexual chemistry contribute to the Internet dubbing this film the gayest horror film ever? I would say yes. In many ways, Jesse could not be less interested in Lisa. So, who does Jesse seem to have his eyes on?

Jesse and GradyRon Grady – Best Friend or True Love?:

Jesse and Ron Grady’s relationship is homoerotic right from the start. Jesse seems smitten with Grady from the first time Grady teasingly caresses Jesse’s face during a baseball game. The two begin pushing each other and fighting exactly like when a little boy pulls the pigtails of a little girl because he secretly has a crush on her. In Grady’s case, he pulls down Jesse’s pants right in front of their entire gym class, exposing his pasty, white butt to the world.

For some unknown reason, Grady even seems to be slightly more enthralled with Jesse than Jesse is with him. Why is everyone so hung up on this odd kid? Grady could do so much better. But, Grady constantly wants to spend time with Jesse. He seems to have no other friends to hang with since this new kid moved into town. He even plays pranks on Jesse to get his attention if Jesse is paying him no mind.

Their relationship literally seems to be a budding romance, and to be honest, I find their flirting sort of adorable. Jesse obviously wants Grady’s admiration and Grady seems to be intrigued by how different Jesse is from himself. It’s just a shame that their love never stands a chance. In 1985, no mainstream horror film would ever have integrated gay, teenage love and self-discovery directly into its plot. These star-crossed lovers were doomed from the start, though the moment where Jesse shows up in Grady’s bedroom is still very exciting.

So do the gay relationship undertones stop there? As if this film didn’t already sound gay enough, there is Jesse’s relationship with Freddy Krueger to consider.

Jesse and FreddyJesse & His Sugar Daddy Freddy:

At one point Jesse describes Freddy’s tormenting him with the sentence, “Something is trying to get inside my body!” Nuff said.

Let’s take a look at some additional Adam film statistics…

AngelaThe Film’s Most Annoying/Worst Character:

In my opinion, this film has plenty of annoying characters to choose from, including Jesse himself. But this award must go to the character who is the most offensive to watch every time he or she is on screen. So my vote goes to Angela: Jesse’s annoying little sister. The little girl portraying Angela is a horrendous actress and I cringe whenever her character needs to recite a line.

Coach's DeathThe Film’s Best Moment:

My vote goes to the killing of another extremely homosexual character, the gym teacher: Coach Schneider. Could this film be any more explicitly gay? Freddy attacks the coach with his own balls (tennis balls, basketballs, etc.), strips him naked out of the leather S&M outfit he was wearing, and repeatedly slaps his bare ass with wet towels till it bleeds. This is after the coach finds Jesse in a late-night, gay, leather bar, forces him to get sweaty by running laps, and then physically pushes him towards the school showers. I mean come on! Anyone else picking up on some not so subtle hints?

The Film’s Worst Moment:

There is nothing I hate more in a movie than when characters do and say unrealistic things solely to serve shitty screenplays. Well, Gentle Reader, this screenplay is pretty shitty indeed and the characters have no idea what they are doing. This plot has more holes in it than a block of Swiss cheese, which I think we can safely blame on its’ writer David Chaskin. But blame must also be placed on this film’s moronic director, Jack Sholder, for completely misunderstanding his source material, for unconditionally disrespecting the character of Freddy Krueger, and for creating some of the most uninspired and boring scenes of any major horror franchise.

All of this being said, my vote for the worst scene in this film is a toss up between the horrendous dance routine that Mark Patton performs when he is supposed to be cleaning his bedroom (How could no one have known that this actor was gay during filming?), and the backyard scene where Freddy leaves the dream world and literally breaks up a teenage pool party.

Freddy Pool PartyWes Craven has been quoted expressing his total disgust at director Sholder’s decision to pull back the curtain and publically display his ‘wizard’. There is nothing scary about Freddy Kruger throwing lawn chairs at teenagers or about hot dogs exploding on a grill. Why is this monster hopping around in a yard filled with 50 young adult film extras? This scene was a horrible directorial decision and Freddy’s threat is reduced to popping lights, boiling water and malfunctioning circuitry. Throughout this film Sholder continuously brings Krueger’s hijinks out of the dream world and into the waking reality, which is confusing and feels sloppy.

Honorable Mention goes to the ridiculous and laughable scene featuring a possessed parrot from hell. Whose idea was that catastrophe? I only wish that the demon parrot had finished off Angela.

How are the film’s special effects & gore?

At one point Freddy scares the crap out of Jesse in the middle of the night and rips the top layer of skin off his head, exposing a detailed and pulsating brain underneath. That was pretty awesome. But Freddy tearing out of Jesse’s body and discarding it in Grady’s room is by far the best special effect in the film. The way Freddy tosses the empty shell of Jesse aside is priceless.

Freddy Bursts Out of Jesse

There are some cool special effects in this film, and some pretty huge misses (like the demon dogs with cabbage patch kids’ faces). Unfortunately the successes’ impacts are lessened by the director’s inability to decide if the world we are watching is a dream or reality. In the hands of a more talented filmmaker this blurring of the two worlds could be scary and effective, but here the direction is boring and the special effects end up feeling like brief glimmers of hope in an otherwise barren landscape.

Robert RuslerMale Eye Candy: In my opinion, Robert Rusler is the real eye candy of this film. We get a shirtless Mr. Rusler in two locker room scenes and we get a scene of him running, sweaty in a wife beater. Later in Grady’s bedroom we get a glistening, tanned and shirtless Mr. Rusler wearing only a tiny pair of green, running shorts. If, for some reason, you prefer the bumbling Mark Patton, he is shirtless and sweaty in several scenes. We are gifted with Mark’s bare behind at one point. There are also numerous shirtless men in bathing suits visible at Lisa’s pool party

Nightmare 2 tongueFemale Eye Candy: We get one scene of Kim Myers beautifully filling out a one-piece bathing suit while she is dripping wet. There is also one very odd and awkward scene where Jesse is licking the skin between her breasts, but we see no actual boob action. There are also several pretty girls wearing swimsuits at the pool party.

Kissing FreddyAfter all of this, do I recommend the film?

I do. Mind you, not as a worthwhile horror film to scare you, but because the film’s ridiculousness is so fantastic! In this film, Freddy Kruger’s scare factor is drastically handicapped. The character of Lisa is in no way threatening or physically strong, yet somehow she manages to overpower the supernatural Freddy in a mild scuffle on the floor. Then later, she kills him simply with her love for her homosexual boyfriend Jesse. In fact the creepiest thing in this film may be Lisa’s twisted love for Jesse even after he has apparently murdered at least two people: a fact which is completely ignored in the ending of this film. And speaking of the ending to this film, it is clumsy, confusing, and without resolution. If you can get past all these things, and even find the humor within them, then you will have a great time with this movie.

Is A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 the gayest horror movie ever made?

I will leave the ultimate decision up to you, Gentle Reader. I have presented the facts as I see them. As a final note, perhaps the original poster’s tagline will help you decide. “The Man of Your Dreams is Back.” The man of whose dreams? Jesse’s? Sounds pretty gay to me.

Leather Bar Nightmare 2

5 Reasons Why Horror Movies are Some of My Favorite Things

friday night frights by patrick ballesteros

Artwork done by artist Patrick Ballesteros

I fell in love with horror movies when I was just a kid. I remember the draw of the ‘horror section’ in my local video rental store. Even when I was too young for my parents to allow me to browse the horror films I remember always being fascinated by the pictures that covered the VHS display boxes. I would skirt quickly back and forth by the horror section so that I could get glimpses of the terrifying drawings on their rectangular covers.

Even at that young age horror films excited me. There was something forbidden within and I could not wait to be allowed to rent them. But delving even deeper into my psyche, there has always been a sexuality to horror films that further delighted me. This sexuality comes across even in the preliminary stage of simply observing the pictures off the front and back of a horror film’s VHS case. These pictures stimulated my mind with the possible stories that lay just beyond my reach. I know that VHS tapes are a thing of the past, but I truly feel that our culture is worse off due to their absence and, for that matter, the disappearance of video rental stores in general.

When I reached my teenage years my friends and I used to take turns getting our parents to drive us to the video store so that we could continue to rent and consume the entire horror section which we had become obsessed with. We used to run around the store choosing from classic and new horror monsters in an attempt to terrify each other later that evening. It felt like we were choosing an adventure for ourselves that night instead of only watching actors undertake their own ghastly adventures against demons and killers. A night in my parents’ basement with popcorn, pizza, candy, friends and two promising horror films was the formula for total teenage happiness and bliss.

I love horror movies. They have helped make me the man I am today.

vhs videos2In honor of October, my favorite month, and my upcoming favorite holiday, Halloween, let us explore five reasons why horror movies are some of my favorite things and still one of my favorite means of passing time.

  1. The Fanboy Connections: Horror movies are conversation starters. “Do you like horror movies?” is one of the first questions I ask when I am on a date or when I am meeting a person for the first time. If horror movies are a common interest, then you have an instant friend and a now endless array of topics to discuss. The horror genre is full of fanboys, and for that matter fangirls. Any film genre that inspires its’ fans to dress up like their favorite monsters, create their own fan fiction, and cover their rooms with gruesome film posters and toys is a genre I want to be a part of. The camaraderie amongst lovers of gore is unparalleled. I’m a proud horror movie fanboy.
  2. The Thrill of Being Scared: Studies have been done in an attempt to explain why some human beings’ twisted minds enjoy being scared by a horror film. We seek out thrills as an escape from our mundane and boring daily lives. Horror films, like roller coasters, present us with exciting, extreme situations which could be dangerous and therefore cause our hearts to race and our foreheads to bead with sweat. But while they expose us to dangerous situations they are controlled and ultimately completely safe. The killer isn’t actually in the room with you. This flirting with danger has always appealed to me.

    amityville horror 2005 remake ryan reynolds shirtless axe beard

    Ryan Reynolds in the 2005 The Amityville Horror Remake

  3. The Shirtless Men: Horror movies are full of sex, nudity and eroticism. They are many young boys’, and young girls’, first forays into soft-core porn. As a young man, who later turned out to be gay, I was always drawn to images of the beautiful male body. Horror films have many beautiful images of shirtless hunks to choose from. These films became some of my first visual studies of other men’s physiques and how they acted in sexual situations. I learned a lot about sex from the horror genre and a lot about muscles.
  4. The Lessons: Critics of the horror genre like to dismiss horror films as trashy pieces saturated with unnecessary and endless amounts of gore, poor plots and violence for no reason. Granted, as in any genre, there are the occasional bad seeds with horrid plots and useless characters. But I have always said that any truly good and worthwhile horror movie has an important message: a lesson. The capable characters in a well-constructed horror film must observe the signs, follow the clues, react intelligently and they will learn the lesson and survive. Horror films can teach us a lot about the world and the murky depths of the human soul. I’ve certainly learned a lot from them about navigating this treacherous thing called life.
  5. The Monsters: Who doesn’t love a good monster? I, as much as anyone else, love them for their ability to scare me and to make me jerk upright in my seat. But I also love monsters for their unique ability to intrigue me and to elicit sympathy from me. Many horror monsters are tragic figures, victims of unfair circumstances or wrongs done to them by others or by nature. My favorite monsters make me feel something extra, on top of my fear. Glimpsing the humanity behind the mask can be a pretty amazing and worthwhile experience. In the end, many horror villains are more relatable then most people would care to admit. Besides, we all have a little monster inside of us, buried way down deep in the dark…childs play chucky