Recently I discovered Home for the Holidays, a Jodie Foster film. I was surprised to find Robert Downey Jr. playing a gay sibling who is too afraid to announce to his parents that he was married to his boyfriend. For a 1995 film, this was a very progressive image to have in theaters and kudos to Jodie Foster for having the courage to make such a film so close to Hollywood. Home for the Holidays starred Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Dylan McDermott, Steve Guttenberg, Cynthia Stevenson, and Claire Danes. It was made through Polygram Pictures, a film production company that differed from traditional Hollywood studios in that the power to make a film was decided by negotiations between producers, management and marketing rather than centralized in a small number of executives.
Fast forward 16 years and crowdsourcing (websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo) have largely replaced Polygram Pictures as a way to green light stories that would normally not be made in a traditional Hollywood studio model. Since Foster’s film, stories about queer characters during the holidays have been limited. There’s Peking Dinner (2006) made by Michael Mew (also from Vancouver) and Make the Yuletide Gay (2009) by Rob Williams. In 2011, Mark V. Reyes made a film, Raymond, about a terminally ill gay man coming home to seek forgiveness from the lover he abandoned. It takes place during Christmas. My next film project, Yung Men, involves Carl coming home for the holidays with a new boyfriend only to find his younger brother, who is also gay, resenting him for leaving him to take care of their aging parents. The story also takes place during Christmas. Tensions between the brothers come to a breaking point, but once these resentments are out in the open can the family begin to heal.
You don’t always have to love your family, but I think it is important to understand how they are a part of you and the holidays provide that opportunity.