Head of the Class short film program

24 08 2012

I’ll do my best to be somewhat brief in the reviews of these short films.

Only Fags Listen to Pop Music

Synopsis: a hand-drawn film about the repercussions of a teen listening to Britney Spears in high school.

Super awesome things: this film was made to be screened for Out in Schools.  Cute, accessible, relateable == not to mention a clear and easy theme.  I like the storyboard quality and look of the film.  Very cool.

Not so awesome things: You know what?  It’s too mean to really criticize this film when it doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is.

Grade: A

Change

Synopsis: a longer short film about a young, gay, African-American boy full of hope just before the 2008 Presidential Election.

Super awesome things: it’s always cool to watch films with people of colour.  Jamie is exactly what this generation is or at least show be: he’s ever so hopeful (that Obama will win and so certain that Prop 8 won’t pass in a liberal state like California); he’s aware of his feelings but doesn’t ever say the word gay, nor does he seem to want/need to.  At the other end of the spectrum, his family, particularly his parents, are more conservative, and this contrast really sets them apart.  It genuinely feels like when they’re glad Prop 8 has passed, they’re wrong.

The best scene is the morning after the election.  Jamie sits down at the breakfast table, happy that his country is heading in a new direction with a new leader.  His father is also happy, as Prop 8 passed.  The camera closes on Jamie’s blank stare as he digests what that means to him.  But even more powerful is his (straight) sister’s reaction: she cries.  Right beside Jamie, she bawls, and one can’t help she’s not only crying for her brother, but for all gay people who are denied, possibly forever, the right to marry the one they love.

Not so awesome things: shortly put, it’s too long.  Add to the fact that the film tries to tackle a bunch of issues like politics, family dynamics, being in the closet, gay bashing, and even a premature romance, and as hard as the film tries, it doesn’t quite balance things out.  Perhaps the biggest thing afflicting this ambitious film is the ending, which I will have to spoil.

Shortly put, why??????  There are enough films where gay people are beaten, killed, or kill themselves, and if anything the ending of Change suggests that there is actually little hope and change in the foreseeable future.  The bashers outnumber the accepting, and we know, based on how liberal youth are today, that this is just not the case.  amie is finally brave enough to be physically close to the token out-white boy and he gets a punch in the face from his friends?  Really?

Grade: C+

The Queen

Synopsis: a gay, Korean-American, working in his mother’s tailor shop, daydreams (or rather, nightdreams) about being the prom queen to a hunky classmate.

Super awesome things: shot on film, this movie looks great.  It’s a simple, straight-forward story with a cheeky ’80s soundtrack.  I’ve seen this film twice already, and I still enjoy it.

Not so awesome things: I always thought it was too weird that he puts on the dress but now I understand that he does it to imagine being with the cute white boy.  I would’ve liked a bit more interaction with the two boys but otherwise, I like this.

Grade: A-

Flyers

Synopsis: while walking down the street one day, a young woman finds herself being stared at by everyone, and realizes someone has been handing out flyers that out her as a lesbian.

Super awesome things: interesting premise with a fairly good sense of “What the hell is going on here?” tension and thrill before the twist at the end.

Not so awesome things: predictable and lacking a strong point.

Grade: B-

I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone

Synopsis: the arrival and integration of a new classmate changes the friendship between a girl and her blind guy friend.

Super awesome things: how can anyone with a heart not love this movie?

I first saw this film a year ago online, and loved it so much that I sent the writer/director, Daniel Ribeiro, an email telling him to send a DVD screener to the festival so that others on the programming committee could see it and love it as much as I did.  He did, and everyone did!  Everyone who saw this film loved it, and said it was so cute.  And it was because of me.  You’re welcome, #festies.

Great acting, a simple story that doesn’t deal with homophobia or a difficult coming out — this film just feels natural in its progression and its execution.  There are moments of tension, like when Leonardo confesses to bestie Giovana, that he is gay, while clearly being unable to realize that she has a crush on him.  I just can’t get enough of this wonderful, wonderful film.

Not so awesome things:  some of the subtitling is slightly off.  That’s my only complaint.  Really.  Also, when will they finally finish the full-length feature film already?!

Grade: A++





Stay on youtube

11 08 2012

I uploaded my short film Stay on youtube yesterday and it’s already gotten 476 views!  I knew gay films on youtube were popular but I didn’t think it would be that popular that fast.

Anyway, enjoy!  (if you haven’t already seen it)





Good Morning, Heartache (end)

13 07 2012

Click.

And with that, Jake’s list is sent into the world, like blowing ashes into the wind.  He takes a breath.  This is yet another time when the outcome is uncertain, and it unnerves him greatly.  There’s nothing left for him to do but wait and see if anything happens.

Days go by.  Jake does his best to carry on with life, but it seems as if every moment, his thoughts are interrupted by a voice shouting in his mind, or a sign that suddenly turns on — “Heath.”  And in that moment, it all comes back to him.  Whatever he’s doing no longer matters.  It alters his day, his mood, his thinking, to the point where Jake spends more time in a day thinking and dwelling about Heath than being in the present.

The worst part is that he knows it.  The worst part is he can’t stop thinking, no matter how hard he tries.

An email arrives in Jake’s inbox, sandwiched between a groupon email and a library notification.  Jake is alone in his room, having just woken up.  There’s a blue downwards arrow attached to the email — Heath’s marked it as low priority.  Upon glancing at the little font on his screen that shows Heath’s name, his breathing immediately increases, and a wave of nausea hits him.  He has to avert his eyes and tell himself that it’s okay before he’s able to control his breathing again.

Click.

Dear Jake,

I got your letter.  I read it.

I’m sorry it’s been rough for you.  You’re wrong when you think I’m without emotions though.  If you don’t already know, you’re such a wonderful guy, and you deserve someone who can give you what I can’t.  Truth be told, I’ve moved on, and though you’ll always have a special place in my heart, I don’t feel that way about you anymore.  Maybe that’s a harsh thing to say, but I feel like if I don’t, you’ll take longer to get over things.  I want that for you.   I know you think and think about things a lot — that’s what happened with your ex.  A relationship should come naturally for both people for it to flourish — otherwise, we’d be constantly fighting to stay together.  

We just don’t work out.  I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.  If you want to stay friends, or if you need someone to talk to, to heal old wounds, then we can do that.

But please don’t try to win me back, or I will have to hurt you.

H.

Jake stares at the screen for minutes, even after finishing Heath’s email.  He doesn’t move, and his breathing is in shallow puffs.  The hum of the computer, and his breathing are the only sounds in the room.

He knows how these things end.  Jake is liberated, self-empowered, meets a new, wonderful guy, and gets a new beginning.  That’s what should happen.

A cold hand touches his shoulder.  “Come back to bed,” a voice beckons him.  “It’s getting cold without you.”

Jake turns off his computer.  Yes, Jake can see it now — his new life.  All the possibilities flash before his eyes.  Suddenly, they all disappear.

“Don’t daydream like that.  I’m all you have.  I’m all you will ever have.  I’ll be yours forever.”

He crawls into bed, and the sheets wrap around his legs and body.  He pulls it close to him, shivering slightly.

“Good morning, heartache.  Hold me for a while…”

THE END





Good Morning, Heartache (Part 4)

9 04 2012

Good Morning, Heartache (part 4)

Things go well for a few months.  The couple spend good time together.  He won’t realize it until much later, but Jake falls for Heath more and more every day, and misses his terribly on days when they aren’t able to see each other. Then one day, things change.

It’s during a bus ride home.  Since Jake and Heath both live east, they take the same bus home to family.  On the trip home one day, Heath tells Jake there’s something important he needs to tell him.

“I don’t want you to freak out or make a big deal out of this, alright?  It doesn’t mean anything.”

Jake tries his best to remain calm.  Had Heath cheated on him?  Does he want to break up?

“Okay.  What is it?”

Heath takes a breath.  “I have this thing where I kind of get… tired?  Sick?  Those are both bad words to use, but I can only hang out with people for a certain amount of time before I want to not be around them.  It’s like filling my quota of time with them; anything more is too much, and I need some time away, and then I’m good after a while.

“I’m… I’m starting to feel that way about you.  Please, don’t panic.  It happens to everyone I know.  There are only two people I’ve ever met who are immune to this, one of them being Chihiro, and please don’t think that I don’t like being around you.  I just don’t want to not like you, you know?”

Well, what could Jake say after that?  “Alright,” he manages.  “If you feel like that, then I guess I’m okay with that.  I mean, it makes me sad, but I can’t make you hang out with me.  I understand.”

Heath takes Jake’s hand and gives it a reassuring squeeze.  “Like I said, I’m just starting to feel it, and I don’t know if it’s actually there or not, or if it will develop.  I just thought you should know.”

“Okay.  Thanks for letting me know.”

From then on, their weekly hang outs decrease.  They still see each other at school, but their actual time together goes down.  Jake, who was used to seeing Dorian once or twice a week, now feels as if he is with Dorian (or rather, Dorian’s schedule) again.  His insecurity floats around in his head, telling him he’s not worth Heath’s time, and that Heath just doesn’t want to be around Jake much.  Jake figures the best thing to do is to be honest, as he considers their relationship to be an honest one.

Jake invites Heath over to his house one night.  He tells Heath he has something he wants to talk to him about.  The two sit down on the leather couch in Jake’s living room.  Heath looks concerned.

“I don’t know where to start, so I’ll just tell you about Dorian.”

Jake explains his complicated relationship with Dorian, and how dating him made him feel distanced and not like a boyfriend, and how he really didn’t want that to happen with Heath, whom he considered to be so wonderful.

Heath nods every now and then.  When Jake is finished, Heath says, “I had no idea.  I’m sorry I did that to you.”  And he leans in to hug Jake tightly and give him a kiss.

“I’ll make it right.”

Jake believes him.  Or he really hopes Heath means it.

Things do sort of get better, if not, they at least they don’t get worse.  Heath invites Jake to have a sleepover at the botanical garden where he volunteers, which is nice.  Jake and Heath still do see each other, but like his relationship with Dorian, Heath is super into his schoolwork and many days, he goes straight home to work on things or to be with family.  Jake, an understanding and patient guy, figures that it’s good for Heath to concentrate on his schoolwork.  After all, they’d get lots of time together after the semester was over.

It’s December, and school is out for the winter.  It’s also the month of Jake’s birthday.  For the past few Decembers, Jake has been working at a concession stand in a large park in the city.  He, along with several others, prepares and sells hot dogs, hot chocolate, cider, and other goodies to guests who come to see the park all dressed up in lights.  It makes for a nice (but chilly) date, since the light show is only open at night.

Remember Heath’s friend Mozilla?  Well, she happens to work inside the park’s restaurant, and for the winter light show, she also works outside with Jake.  Mozilla and Jake were never super close, but he confides in her about something he’s planning.

“Heath and I are going to come by the park this weekend, just after my birthday.”

“That’s so nice!  You guys are gonna really like it.”

“I think so too.”

After walking around for about an hour in the multi-colored, light-filled park and weaving through loud groups of families (and hence, loud children), Jake suggests they find a quiet place to sit down.  The two find a sign that leads them up a small hill and to a bench.  The bench overlooks most of the park, and is out of the way enough to actually be quiet.

Heath and Jake sit down on the frozen bench.

“Thanks for bringing me here,” Heath says.

“You’re welcome.  I really wanted to come here with you.  Heath, there’s something I want to tell you.”

Heath is silent as Jake struggles to cough up the words.  They are stuck in his throat.

“I… um, I…”

Jake looks down at all the people milling around the park, at the randomness of life, and how, for two people to be together on a winter night like him and Heath, there must be some sort of organization, something more than mere luck or chance.  There had to be a reason Jake is with someone as good as Heath.  Good things just don’t happen to Jake like this.  And in that moment, Jake decides that he will be thankful every day for having such a person in his life by telling him how much he means.

“I love you, Heath.”

Heath takes Jake’s hand.  “Aww.  I love you, too.”

Heath then starts talking about something funny that happened to Mozilla in the restaurant last week, when he suddenly stops.  There are tears in Jake’s eyes.

“Are you crying?”

“Yes… but they’re happy tears!  It’s okay.  I’m just… I’m just really happy that you said it back to me because I was honestly not sure.  I’m never sure about this like this.  And I’ve never said it to anyone out loud before.  Now that I hear you say it back… I know I can be sure, because you love me too.”

Heath and Jake kiss among the thousands of lights in the park.

To be continued!





Good Morning, Heartache (Part 3)

8 04 2012

Good Morning, Heartache (Part 3)

Their second date goes a little differently.

A few days after their milkshake date, Jake asks if Heath would like to hang out again.  Heath says yes, which excites Jake.  Jake invites Heath over to his place after class later that week to watch a movie, and Heath agrees.  Let phase 2 of seduction begin.

It’s a rainy day, perfect for a nice, quiet stay-in.  Heath and Jake arrive at Jake’s house.  Fortunately, Jake’s mother is out at work and won’t be home for several hours, so the boys have the place to themselves.  After grabbing some snacks and relieving themselves, the two head in Jake’s small room, where Jake prepares to set up a movie on his laptop.  Using his two pillows as backrests, Jake turns his bed into a mini-theatre, turning the laptop on his desk 90 degrees so that it faces the bed.

“We’re gonna be sitting on the bed, by the way, so if you want to get comfy while I get the movie up and running, go ahead.”

“Sure thing.”

Heath begins to take off his jacket and sweater.  It’s Jake’s chance.

“Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I have a rule about sitting on my bed: no outside pants.  If you want, you can either use my sweatpants, or else, like me, you’ll have to sit in your underwear.”

Jake does his best to sound normal and uncreepy, but Heath still gives him a weird look. After a few seconds of deliberating, Heath agrees.

“Fine.”  And with that, Heath shucks off his skinny black jeans to reveal a pair of briefs and hairy legs.

Jake tries not to notice, but smiles.  He also takes off his jeans and shows Heath his boxers.  The two get on settled on the bed, their bare legs touching each other.

They watch a fairly forgettable gay-themed movie.  All the while, Jake and Heath’s hands, under the covers, find their way to the other’s legs, but aside from some brushing, it’s all PG-13.  After the movie, Jake tells Heath, “Hey, you were in my dream last night.”

“Oh really?  What happened?”

“Well, I think it’s better if I show you.  Follow me.”

Jake takes Heath by the hand and leads him to the kitchen, beside the fridge.

“Okay.  Now put your arms around me.”

Heath is surprisingly not confused or alarmed, and put his hands on Jake’s shoulders, which makes Jake laugh.

“What?” demands Heath.

“In my dream, we were standing next to a fridge.  I asked you to put your arms around me, and you ended up somehow putting your hands around my neck, like your were strangling me.  I just wanted to see how you’d do it.”

“Oh, haha.”

“And by the way, your arms aren’t around me.  Here.”  Jake re-positions Heath’s arms so that they go around his neck.  In turn, Jake puts his arms around Heath’s waist, bringing the two even closer– kissing distance.

They stand there, in their underwear, nonetheless, for several seconds in silence.   Finally, Heath breaks it.

“Are you gonna kiss me or not?”

Jake laughs again, and then leans in, but hugs Heath closely.  “I’m afraid to kiss you because of what it will mean.  I like you a lot, but I don’t want to get in anything with someone who isn’t out to his family, you know?”

“Mmhmm.”

When they pull back, Heath stares right into Jake’s eyes.  “I’m planning on coming out to them this weekend.”

“It’s not because of me, is it?  I don’t want you to feel pressured because of me.  I want you to do it on your own terms, when it feels right to you.”

“It feels right to me.”

“Okay.  I’m glad.”

“Now will you kiss me?”

Jake grins and kisses the handsome boy.  Their tongues explore each other’s mouths, and it feels so natural.  When they part, Jake inquires, “That was your first kiss, right?”

Heath nods and asks, “How is my kissing?  Is it good?  Am I doing it wrong?”

“No, no!  You’re actually really good.”  They kiss again, pulling each other closer.

When they finally stop to breathe, Jake and Heath touch and rub their noses together.  It’s a gesture the two will do a lot from now on.

“There’s one more thing I wanted to do with you today.”

“Another one?”

Jake leads Heath back into the living room.  “Wait here.”  While Heath stands in the middle of the room, surveying it and wondering what the hell this guy could possibly be up to, Jake returns from his bedroom with a stereo.  He plugs it into a nearby outlet and presses play.

Chet Baker’s sweet trumpet fills the room as Jake smiles to Heath and extends his hand, asking for a dance.  Heath takes Jake’s outstretched hand, and the two slow-dance in a circle, noses pressed together, underwear and obvious hard-ons pressed together.  At one point, Jake changes position and puts his arms around Heath from behind.  With his eyes closed in what could only be happiness, Heath reaches up and touches Jake’s head, cradled in the nook of Heath’s shoulder.  Even Jake’s cat joins in, meowing at them nearby, either jealous from not getting attention or cheering them on.

They dance for the entire length of the CD, swaying slowly and holding each other closely.

And so it began.  The relationship between Heath and Jake.

For the first month, it’s everything Jake wished for come true.  Seeing this boy he has such strong emotions for several times a week (as opposed to once or twice in the case of Dorian). During breaks at school, Heath and Jake would walk over to the nearby elementary school playground and make out, and just be generally goofy around each other.  How strange and thrilling it was for Jake to be kissing someone in public like that.  One day, while at the playground, Heath asks Jake, “What’s your favourite animal?”  Jake ponders this while hanging upside down on the monkey bars, and finally replies, “Penguin, probably.  Why?”

“Different animals are supposed to symbolize different things.  For example, my favourite animal is the husky, the dog, which means I’m hardworking and I like a good belly rub.”

“Husky… yeah, I can see that.  You don’t look anything like a husky, but you sure are warm.”

“Oh, you,” Heath says.  “Anyway, a penguin would represent… a braveness against hostile conditions?  Or maybe inability to fly?”

“Or lack of knees?  A love to barf up chewed food and shove it down someone else’s throat?”  Jake jumps down from the monkey bars and waddles over, penguin-style, to Heath, who laughs.  When he gets to Heath, Jake makes barfing sounds, as if about to hurl on Heath.

“I’m all full from lunch, but how about a kiss instead, pingu?”

“Coming right up, musky husky.”

On the 22nd of the month, while Jake and Heath are walking together after class, Jake brings up a question he’s been thinking about for several weeks.

“So… um, what would you say our relationship status is?”

Heath seems unfazed.  “I’d say we’re going out.”

“Oookay… well, would you then say I’m your boyfriend?”

“Um, yeah.  Would you say that I’m your boyfriend?”

“Yes.”

“Great.  We’re boyfriends, then.”

Heath looks over at Jake, who exhales.  “You’ve been thinking about that a lot, haven’t you?”

“What?  Me?  Maybe.”

Heath takes Jake’s hand as they walk down the street, newly christened boyfriends.

On another day, Jake even tells Heath one day while walking together, “You know, this is really weird, being around you so much.  I mean, it’s really good, it’s really nice!  But I guess I’m not used to it, but now that I see what I’ve been missing out on, it feels really good.”  Heath smiles and takes Jake’s hand as they walk.

They would go to the local community center pool, where loads of splashing, playing water tag, aiding each other achieve underwater handstands, and one time, diving off the high dive, despite Jake’s apprehension to do so.

Heath brings Jake to the botanical garden where he volunteers.  He shows Jake excitedly all the plants and species, and although Jake is a simple greeting card writer, he is thoroughly interested, even if he appears otherwise.  For example, when checking out the perrenials,

When hanging out after school, Jake would joke and tease Heath about his lack of compassion for the general human race, and his unexpressiveness whenever Jake tries to be romantic to him, usually by way of cheesy lines (“You’re a tasty stud muffin”, and Heath would roll his eyes) or cheesy lyrics (“You are my fire, the one desire”, and Heath would send a text saying how he rolled his eyes).  Because of this, it becomes an ongoing joke about how Heath has no heart, to which Heath says otherwise.

“Do you believe in fate?” Jake asks Heath one day, lying in bed together one day.

“Not really.  Why?  Do you?”

Jake chuckles.  “You’re gonna think I’m totally bizarro, but here’s what I figured out.  I wouldn’t have met you if I hadn’t met Romulus, and I wouldn’t have met Romulus if I didn’t meet him at the afterparty at the Greeting Card-a-puhlooza, and I wouldn’t have been in the expo if I hadn’t written that greeting card about my ex, and I wouldn’t have written that greeting card if we hadn’t broken up, and we wouldn’t have broken up if I hadn’t have met him, so… what I’m trying to say is, do you think it’s a coincidence that me meeting you again was by chance?  ‘Cause it seems awfully connected, all these events.”

Heath takes a minute to digest this.  “Well, I don’t know what to say.  I suppose it’s possible that fate brought us together, but… hmm.  No, I guess you’re right.”

“What?  Why?”

Heath shuffles himself closer to Jake.  “Because it can’t just be a coincidence that I found someone so wonderful.”  And with that, they kiss.

A week before their first month anniversary, Heath keeps saying how excited he is to give Jake a present.  This makes Jake happy, since he’s never really gotten romance gifts before.  Heath comes over to Jake’s place one day with a piece of paper tied to a penguin plushie.  He hands it over to Jake and sits on the bed, grinning.  Jake thanks Heath for the present, then reads the paper.

I came across a boy
and he is called Jake.
He isn’t jacket,
and he isn’t a rake.

He’s but a director,
musician and writer.
Rather creative
but not much of a fighter.

He’s sweet and he’s charming,
and a hell of a tease,
and he keeps me begging
“Oh please, do me, please!”

It was rather strange,
the conditions of how we met,

But I know we’re together
because it’s our fate.

I know that I’m lucky
to be with such a guy.
I can’t get enough of him,
to that I will testify.

I hope that this proves
that in me lies a heart,
and if you agree,
then please, kiss me hard.

The second Jake finishes the last word, he looks up at Heath, then practically jumps on him, kissing him ferociously, and pulling him in close.

“I take it that means I have a heart now?” Heath manages after they finally stop making out, minutes later.

“Yes.  Yes, you do.  Although ‘fate’ and ‘met” don’t rhyme.  But I still love it.  Thank you, Heath.”  Jake smiles, and he leans in to kiss this wonderful boy with a heart some more.

And that’s how you show someone you care for them.

To be continued!





Good Morning, Heartache (Part 1)

6 04 2012

If you ask me or my friends, we will tell you that one of my characteristics is being honest.

A little while ago, I started writing an entry on my blog titled “The Scientist’s Experiment.”  It’s still in my drafts, incomplete.  It is unfinished because I have been trying to convey my thoughts in a somewhat prose-y, poetic way, while trying to say everything it is I want to say.

A friend told me a while back that I should write out my feelings on paper– no prose, no poetry, just write them all out, however you feel.  It would make me feel better.  And so I did.  Did I feel better?  Perhaps.  The thoughts certainly came out faster when I didn’t have to think about how to phrase exactly what I wanted to say to fit what came before and what would follow.

But I decided at the least minute to fuse the two together, so it’s not just an emotional unloading.  So for all those out there, here’s a story for you.

Good Morning, Heartache
by Aaron Chan

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Jake.  Jake, like many queer young boys, took in the idea that gay boys were supposed to find love after coming out.  It could also be that Jake was simply a romantic, but in any case, he longed for the day when he would find someone he could love and be that wonderful boyfriend he so frequently saw in C-grade gay films, and lackluster Hollywood rom-coms.  He thoroughly believed in the tradition of winning back someone by way of bouquets of roses, silent messages via placards during Christmastime, and admitting one’s faults after an exciting airport chase.  Although Jake is not very social when it comes to meeting new people, he finds talking to people one-on-one just fine.  Unfortunately, not many people happen to waltz up to the quiet loner standing in the corner of the room and start a conversation.  No, siree.

I know it can be strange to imagine, but Jake has always felt the need to love someone.  He can’t explain it.  The best I can do is this: some people claim they were born to be engineers; some say they “knew” they had to help people in developing countries.  For Jake, he always felt that he wanted to love someone.  It was as natural a goal and instinct as wanting to be a mother, or writer, or voting for the Green Party.

People always say, “you don’t need a man to make you happy.”  Okay, well, women typically say that, less for men.  Although Jake knew this had to be true, he couldn’t help but feel he did need — or at the very least, want — to love someone.  It was as if there was a piece missing from himself that could only be found when he found someone.  Corny?  Yes, a bit.  But it was life for Jake.

During this time, Jake also begins to develop his insecurity.  His lack of finding anyone remotely interesting who was interested in him makes him feel like a freak, like he’s not attractive.  Granted, he is mainly looking online and you know how shallow people can be, but still, for a dreamer and a romantic like Jake, it still hurts him every time he messages an interesting guy and receives silence.  At the same time, the only attention he seems to get is either from said older, usually white men who seem to have a fetish for young guys, or, less often, from guys so jacked up on testosterone they can’t communicate with more than a grunt or, in Internet language, “sup?”  Sure, some attention is flattering but after a while, when it’s all he gets, it made Jake feel as though he was doing something wrong, or else he just really destined not to find anyone.

Fast forward a whole bunch of years (because the life of a tween is not that interesting).  Jake, now a young man, finds that someone messaged him on an online dating site he signed up for.  What a revelation!  After weeks, months, years of being unable to find any sort of gay person, this guy, who appears to 1) not be a creepo old guy, and 2) have a good grasp of basic spelling and grammar.  So Jake and this guy, Dorian, meet and eventually start dating.  It seems they have a lot in common, and things are great.  Jake’s insecurity starts to disappear, as he is finally with someone interesting, someone worth dedicating his time to.  Ah, young love.

However, things don’t go exactly as Jake thinks.  Dorian is really busy with school and preparing for lots of plays at the university.  He’s so into what he does and is so good that everyone in the Drama building knows him, and he continuously gets requests from everyone to help on this project or that one.  Since he can’t say no, he accepts, leaving little time for Jake.  Oh, and Dorian is in the closet (no one in Drama would ever suspect him!), so all of Dorian’s friends that Jake meets know Jake as a “friend.”

Despite this setback, Jake convinces himself that it’ll be okay.  After all, Jake is patient and still that romantic I mentioned earlier, and he believes that Dorian is worth being with.  So Jake continues to be Dorian’s “friend.”

Eventually, Dorian and Jake decide to break up.  Dorian admits that were he to stay in the city, he would never come out, and although Jake truly cares for Dorian, he can’t take being known as another friend the rest of his life by his boyfriend.  Moreover, it’s gotten to the point where Dorian and Jake only meet once or twice a week– because of Dorian’s busy play production schedule.  So they part.

The piece is gone.  Suddenly, Jake feels alone, his goal for love thwarted.  Although it was a mutual separation, he still feels as though he has failed in some way.  The insecurity comes back.  He believed he was lucky to be with Dorian, now Jake sees his relationship as proof that nothing good can stay in his life.  Anything that makes Jake happy is temporary, especially love.

Calendar pages fly by.  Jake is alone, still thinking profusely about Dorian.  Instead of thinking about all the good times they had together, Jake ruminates about how he’ll never have them again with Dorian, and what went wrong.  It’s just his way of thinking.  Dorian, on the other hand, seems to have no problem getting on with life after Jake’s departure.  Jake can’t understand this, and realizes later that he does in fact love Dorian.  Unfortunately for Jake, it no longer matters– Dorian is just too busy to respond to any of Jake’s messages or emails, and I’m sure he conveniently ignored a bunch too.

It takes Jake a good while to get back on his feet.  Even though Jake and Dorian were only together for four months, Jake let himself get immersed in this first love.  All of Jake’s friends tell him that that dream guy that Jake has been fantasizing about all those years is going to find Jake sooner or later.  After all, they say, Jake’s a kickass boyfriend.  Good things happen to good people, like, all the time.

Press the fast forward button again.  A little more than two years later, Jake is more or less back to normal.  He’s back at school, has taken up writing witty greeting cards (“You’ve graduated high school?  Join the other 5,389,284,203,298 in human history!”), and no longer dwells on thinking about his ex.  Dorian can go suck it, for all Jake cares (although since Dorian’s in the closet and had disclosed to Jake that he wouldn’t have sex until he was back in a relationship, he probably isn’t sucking any). During all this time, Jake tries to date but it seems the town is in a drought; there’s a shortage of average, interesting gay guys in the city, it seems.  It’s discouraging, to say the least, but Jake figures trying is better than not.  So he keeps at it.

One day, Jake submits his greeting card inspired by Dorian (“I don’t tell you enough how amazing, fantastic, loving, wonderful you really are… but at least I’m buying you this card.  So when is it my turn?”) to the town’s annual Greeting Card-a-puhlooza.  And his card gets in to the expo!

After his card is showcased in front of a live audience and Jake talks a bit about how he came up with such an idea, he decides to head over the afterparty to meet the other cool, witty, snarky card writers.  At this party, a young, also queer guy comes up to Jake and starts yell-talking to him over the uhns-uhns-ing beat of trashy music.  His name is Romulus, and he and Jake hit it off.

Being a romantic (and a tad desperate, but more romantic), Jake instantly imagines Romulus as a potential boyfriend.  But as they get to know each other, Romulus comes off as something better: a true gay friend.  Although Jake is a little disappointed, he is more than thrilled that at least Romulus is an interesting gay guy who isn’t into camping out to see the next Sex and the City movie.  Besides, Romulus is way too busy with his day-time job as a flame-throwing, homophobe-vanquishing superhero anyway.

Romulus invites Jake to help out with his own greeting card party.  It’s been a big passion of Romulus to write greeting cards but he’s always put it off for one reason or another.  But no more!  He’s decided to have a three-day greeting card write-a-thon, and has invited some other friends to help out too.

Naturally, Jake is more than willing to help.  When he gets to Romulus’s place on the first day, he sees a guy who looks familiar.  And since Jake has a creepily good facial recognition (I say creepily because a lot of people might find it creepy but if you think about it, it’s actually quite impressive), he instantly remembers who this guy is.

Heath.

Now we have to rewind a bit.

Flashback!

While Jake was at school, he was taking an Arabic class.  One day, he and a classmate had to work on a project together.  The classmate told Jake that he was in the library “with my friend Heath.”  Thinking nothing of it, Jake went to the library and found the classmate sitting with a guy named Heath.  Since Heath was fluent in Arabic, he was able to proofread their inferior project so that they wouldn’t look as stupid when they presented it.

Heath was short, with short dark hair, and super skinny (but not anorexic skinny, thankfully).  He and Jake didn’t talk much that day, and when Heath was done with their project, Jake left.

End of flashback!

Now standing before him was the same Heath, who looked the same, even after almost a year.

“I know you!  You’re Heath!” exclaimed Jake, demonstrating his awesome memory.

“Ah wah??” said Heath, naturally confuzzled.

And that was the start of the romance to-be.

To be continued!





“The Last Act of Romance”

7 03 2012

I’ve made some modifications since performing this but here is the version I read at thrilLITERATE.

The Last Act of Romance

Are grand gestures dead?
Out of breath,
no more sweat,
aspiring Olympic sprinters in the airport before the plane leaves—all to the death.
What about bundles of bleeding flowers,
or a prince arriving to your dusty tower,
no, these things
that people only sing–
they don’t have power.

There was one I came across
a wounded puppy, crying and lost,
whose baggage I’d carry,
no matter what the cost.
His soul was poached like a bear,
even Lady Justice declared
it wasn’t fair
for someone to be so uncared.
Cue me–
good Samaritan acts of
listening and holding,
moulding you back to shape.
Reading your skin like Braille,
your bruises and your scars from head to tail,
fingers crossed that this was a test I wouldn’t fail.
Seedlings forming of us together like Sonny and Cher,
growing in the garden of despair.
Never have I touched so much,
never have I thought it was enough,
to simply see and be seen,
that maybe this dream
of two princes building a kingdom together
is not another child’s toy as it seems.

You told me once, “You give me so much medicine”,
and I couldn’t help but begin
thinkin’ that it might just be written.
And even for me, every caress
was clearing the mess–
of past events,
finally laid to rest.
The dark red wound closing,
all our time together, felt like I was overdosing.
With you, I’m no actor,
there’s no posing.
No spectres,
stale lectures,
no thoughts orbiting the speed of light,
colliding as they usually might.
No need to explain the silence code,
to two people who’ve always known,
that it really can be golden–
to just be enveloped in each other and soundless,
where feeling good, for once, is boundless.

That one night I tried to erase
the tears from my face,
and you looked up with inquiring eyes,
but never realized:
that here was a guy,
whose time I didn’t have to buy,
or pry from his books.
He’d wrap himself around me like a hook,
making me feel like a big-time crook
for stealing him from the rest of the world.
You weren’t even mine, but you felt more like a lover
than any other I’d had before.

Now I gotta confession,
and you might think I’m messin’,
but that last evening,
while holding you with my frail arms,
you curled, with your
eyes shut,
jeans half down,
dick out–
I sat back and observed like a painter,
the background getting fainter,
out of focus,
because it was all on you.
On the edge of my tongue,
were the words, ready to be sung:
You are so beautiful.
But instead,
I swallowed them dead,
because, like history says,
you don’t know what’s playing in their heads.

Days later, the seedling’s now a beanstalk.
I’m still rewinding to close-ups of your cock,
when you tell me my antibiotics
are making you sick:
word indigestion
from desserts served as entrees of sugary expressions,
too much to absorb and question.
Saying, “Let’s just… take some time.”
But I knew it meant goodbye.

That’s when the theories flooded in:
Maybe I wasn’t hot enough to begin.
Maybe I was too genuine.
Maybe… maybe.
Then the rift
began to shift.
The silence drifting in is dry fog,
and I lay down and whimper like a dog.
The closest I’ve come to normalcy,
is a reminder that it’s not to be.

So now that you’re rehabilitated,
you go off, just like you’re slated,
taking
the pieces of me I laid out when we were naked.
And as for me,
in case you forgot me,
I’m howling at the moon
that we no longer spoon,
and I’m the buffoon
because I rolled away the boulder to my cave,
where feet have rarely strayed,
hoping you’d stay,
seeing that we’re just two broken slaves,
to love.
Oh, you say you could drink a case of me,
but you barely even took a sip,
never touched my lips.
Couldn’t you see through me,
that I began to tip?
and fall,
fall,
how you would call,
filter through my thoughts on the phone,
and choke out, “I miss you” to the dialtone.
Staring at your photo,
the one I still own–
another one who came to the show,
another one who decided to go,
another one who left before the encore,
another one who decided none is more.

But alas,
as every moment fleeting does pass,
this broken heart is not my last,
and you become another folder of my past,
Suddenly,
you let go of me,
shuffle out of my den.
The band-aid rips my skin,
and I’m bleeding again,
It goes deep,
steeped
in loose leaf memories.
‘Cuz you see,
every serenade you gave
was a grenade,
waiting to be played and replayed.
Going in through my ears,
and coming out as tears.
Twilights and nights,
with me and myself in both corners of the ring to fight.
Twitching and fits of hysterics,
that all these treats were secretly cores of tricks–
And yet–
And yet.
The fool remains a fool,
because you’re still the one I’d pick.

Hey, if this is all news,
if you’re sorry you ever knew
that I believed there even existed a bird before it flew–
here it is, spelled out in poetry,
so you won’t even have to see my clown-sad face or me:

This is my last act of romance.
No more Chet Baker-inspired slow-dance,
wrapping and delivering words whenever given the chance,
no more noble knight, fighting for you,
galloping towards certain death with lance in hand.

I’m not asking you to match it,
but I’ll give you the hatchet.
You can choose to carve,
new black circles on a vinyl track,
or cut me loose and let me starve,
on a diet of flashbacks
while the odds scrape the sky and stack
against me.

Forgive me if I flooded you with tidal waves,
if I craved too hard.
Forgive me if I can’t be a machine,
programmed to fuck without feeling.
Forgive me if I over-think,
that all I was to you was just some huggable, touchy twink.

The ending may be written,
but I’m handing you the pen.
If all you need at midnight
is not a magic carpet flight,
if what you want are the rats and not the horses,
for all my forces,
to be disarmed,
to forget that I ever charmed you–
take a good look, and call it your final glance,
because that was the last act of romance.





The World Behind Closed Doors (part 4)

28 11 2011

This is probably the point where I should mention my relationship with my mother.  She was born in Hong Kong and despite having lived in Vancouver for more than 20 years, her English is very limited. Furthermore, Western views, society, and culture don’t seem to be as important to her as the traditional Chinese way of living.  It’s as if her mind was a room and she had closed the door to everything else, shutting out anything that would mutate or alter what she knew.  When I came out to my mother, she seemed to take it fairly well, aside from suggesting I go visit a doctor to get examined for my “sickness”.  Even after that, we didn’t mention anything gay-related.  Taboo: an important part of the Chinese way. It’s always better to ignore things.

 

Because Kem was in the closet, I respected his wish not to tell people he was gay.  We had difficultly determining whether or not I should tell my mom, since I didn’t really care but at the same time, was unsure if she would allow him to come over anymore.  Eventually, we decided it was probably better she didn’t know.  I don’t remember him having any fear of meeting my mom but if I ever did, it was squashed when it happened.

Kem scored immediate points when he first met my mom while she was actually still awake.  It was in the afternoon when he climbed the carpeted stairs up in our house.  My mom was either sitting on the couch, watching melodramatic (ie. absolutely terrible) Chinese soap operas on TV or was in the kitchen cooking.

“This is Kemuel,” I said as he charmingly gave her a smile.

“Kem-yu-al,” she repeated slowly, trying to get his name right.

“He goes to school at UBC,” I continued.  Her face immediately lit up, like hearing one of her kids had taken her advice and was going off to medical school – a look I had never been able to get from her.

“Ah, really?  What are you studying?” she asked in Cantonese, eyes gleaming.

“I’m in the music program,” he replied back in Cantonese.

“Oh!  You know Cantonese!” My mother’s voice rose an octave with excitement.

As the two continued talking, I went to the kitchen, hearing my mother’s animated voice, telling him how useless I was for not going to university while at the same time praising him; I would also heard my boyfriend’s voice, who was trying to convince her that film school was good too.  I felt proud that she liked him so quickly, that she had approved of him – except, of course that she didn’t know we were together.  When asked about how we met, I told my mom he was helping me with my application to UBC, which only made her like him even more.  This wonderful guy was helping her son go to university!  What a godsend!

(continued in part 5…)





The Wise Kids

14 08 2011

The Queer Film Festival started on Thursday, but I didn’t get to start watching any films until last night, at Day 3.  I would’ve really liked to see We Were Here but unfortunately, I was at work and was only able to make it to one of the late screenings.  I’m glad to start reviewing queer films again!

Synopsis: The film follows the stories of three teens in a small, southern town in the US as they prepare for college, face religious questioning, sexuality issues, and make the transition into adulthood.

Super awesome things: Stephen Cone’s direction is really impressive in this.  Instead of cutting out silences and getting to the characters talking, he lets them linger, creating huge amounts of awkwardness not only for the characters on screen, but for the audience as well.  There’s one scene where a man comes out to one of the kids and his fumbling for the words as he confesses a part of himself created massive amounts of tension (Will he say it?  Will he chicken out?) that, ultimately, is true to life.  No one speaks so eloquently all the time, and Cone understands that.

The acting is also noteworthy in that all three “Wise Kids” do a great job.  I have my reservations about young actors but their sensitivity and the way they handled the characters made them seem real.  Last but definitely not least, there were so many subtle things and subtext that it was clear the writing and filming was well-thought out beforehand.  When one of the teens, who is having her doubts about her faith and is in the church play (I think?) depicting the crucifixation of Christ, there is a scene where one of her lines is “Where is he?”.  The director of the play makes her say it several times, and of course the subtext here is that she may be wondering aloud, “Where is He?”  Fantastic stuff.

Not so super awesome things: The only thing I really have to gripe about this film is that especially in the first third of the film, the camera tended to dolly around the characters, which became really noticeable after a while and took me out of the film a little.  I also wish there was some conclusion to Tim’s subplot with his homophobic brother but I guess you can’t resolve everything.

Good for watching: For a quiet, reflective night if you want to watch a film that makes you think.

Overall: Stephen Cone is adorable.  A fantastic way to start off the festival (for me, anyway).

Grade: A-





30 Day Movie Challenge: Day 12: Favourite love story

25 06 2011

Now I know that not every gay person likes Brokeback, just as not every straight person likes Titanic.  But I really did enjoy Brokeback Mountain, and was so stoked about the movie before it even came out that I went straight to the library when I read that such a movie was even going to be widely released and borrowed Annie Proulx’s short story.  Unfortunately, when the movie did come out, I had no one to see it with, and I ended up watching it on TV when it came on Movie Central.  Even my homophobic mother saw it in theatres (only because Ang Lee directed it and she’s a fan of his, I think).

This is my favourite scene in the film.  I think it’s really romantic and cute.  There isn’t really much else to say, except how fitting that also NY approved same-sex marriage yesterday too.  🙂