Saturday, January 02, 2016

Reflections on Philidelphia

Tonight I watched the movie "Philadelphia" on Amazon Prime movies. I know, it was released in 1993, and practically everyone I know has seen it at least once since then. But not me.

There are certain topics addressed by popular movies that affect me too deeply for me to enjoy watching them. I tried to watch "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" when it came out but had to stop about half-way through. The topics of mental health and insanity distress me to the point where I can hardly bear to discuss them, let alone watch a movie based on them. Those same elements, combined with the horrific aspects of war, kept me from enjoying "Apocalypse Now", which debuted while I was in the Army.

"Philadelphia" affected me deeply, too, and was quite difficult to watch.

The reason is intensely personal and one I rarely discuss with anyone. But tonight, watching Hanks and his amazing performance, I realized some truths about why movies concerning homosexuality touch me so deeply and make me so uncomfortable, and I think I can finally reflect on those truths publically. Perhaps others will recognize themselves in my reflections and come to accept aspects of their personalities previously hidden away.

I've known for over 40 years that I'm not strictly heterosexual, nor am I exclusively homosexual. I've enjoyed deep and meaningful relationships with both men and women though to be honest with myself and you I probably am further toward gay on the sexuality spectrum than straight. Maybe 70/30 gay to straight.

Even though I was born in the 50's I really grew up in the 60's. Despite the prevailing climate of free love and acceptance in the California of the 60's, most gays were still in the closet and homosexuality remained a forbidden topic. In the early 70's I had a roommate who had been dismissed from Catholic seminary for being gay, and in spite of the fact that I was attracted to him, we never broached the subject. It was never discussed let alone acted upon.

My first emotional relationships were in the 70's with both girls and boys. While it felt perfectly natural to me to be attracted equally to both, I was very much aware of society's disapproval of same-sex relationships. So I made sure to keep those hidden away, never to be spoken of or made public. In those days not only did society still demonize gays, gays themselves considered bisexuals as aberrations, gays trying to be straight. Bi's weren't accepted in either the gay or straight world.

Watching "Philadelphia" tonight I realized what a different person I would be today had I not succumbed to social pressure to be "a man" and spent the better part of my life trying to convince myself and everyone else that I was tough and unemotional. I denied a large portion of my character that was emotional, sensitive and caring. I would have been a much more loving man today had I felt free to express my emotions, perhaps even more artistic and creative.

It's probably too late now for me to make substantial changes to my personality no matter how much I wish I could. But there's still time for young people, kids who may be trying to accept aspects of themselves that others refuse to acknowledge or accept. Young people these days are certainly more accepting than when I was a kid, but there are still many teenagers who have been disowned by their families, tossed out of their churches and are persecuted within their communities for loving the "wrong" person. These youngsters need to know there are others who have gone through the same rejections and regret not having stood their ground and insisted on proudly being who they are.

Here are some links I hope will help.

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