Another Gay Movie, the Director’s Cut, arrives on digital platforms on April 27th and DVD on May 4th via Breaking Glass Pictures.
The older I get, the more I ponder where time has gone. This feeling was brought into focus recently when the 15th Anniversary Director’s Cut of Another Gay Movie landed in my inbox (that’s not a double entendre). Initially, I did a double-take, my brain unable to compute that this gleefully rambunctious creation was fifteen years old. But it’s true; Another Gay Movie is now officially an awkward teenager, its brash, bold, filthy, colourful and proudly queer take on American Pie receiving additional footage, edits and a few minor tweaks. The result is an even more delightfully gross and engaging slice of John Waters inspired fun than the film that arrived on DVD in 2006.
Let me provide you with a quick refresh for those unaware of or new to Todd Stephens’ 2006 movie. Another Gay Movie takes no time in introducing us to the perpetually horny Andy (Michael Carbonaro) and his three besties, jock Jarod (Jonathan Chase), geek Griff (Mitch Morris), and the effeminate Nico (Jonah Blechman). Andy has a major crush on his science teacher Mr Puckov (Graham Norton), while also sexually experimenting with assorted vegetables, his derrière a veritable allotment patch. Meanwhile, the exuberant Nico fears coming out to his PFlag mum Bonnie (Stephanie McVay), and Jarod and Griff dance around their unspoken attraction for each other.
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Our characters are held in the void between teenage life and adulthood as they agree to lose their virginity before the summer ends, and college begins. At this point, you may be experiencing déjà vu, a niggling feeling you have seen the movie before, minus the phallic vegetables. The reason is you have! Another Gay Movie is American Pie, with added glitter, anal experimentation, and boners. Even the famous apple pie is replaced by a hot wet quiche and inquisitive gerbil. The result is a bold, colourful and cheerful subversion of the heteronormative teen sex comedies of the late 90s and early millennium.
On release in 2006, many criticised Todd Stephens’ gleeful film for the LGBTQ+ stereotypes it housed, while others found its low budget gross-out comedy problematic. However, in retrospect, many of these criticisms highlighted the division of standards in film criticism. After all, Another Gay Movie is no more offensive, rude or stereotypical than many heterosexual teen comedies. Here the movie itself is a subversion of the widely accepted and celebrated stories of teen male conquests over women, many of which continue to be celebrated as classics of the comedy genre. This, in turn, raises an important question, were the criticisms of Another Gay Movie due to the bravery of its bold queer representation? And would a heterosexual movie have been scrutinised to the same level?
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To answer these questions, we need to take a trip back to the beginning of the 00s, where increasing confidence in LGBTQ+ equality and storytelling had been born out of dramas like Queer as Folk. Here in the UK, the 00s would see the repeal of section 28, age of consent equalisation, equal rights in adoption, employment equality legislation and more. The media landscape also slowly changed in tandem, from Will Young coming out after winning Pop Idol to Brian Dowling becoming the first openly gay kids TV presenter. Meanwhile, Stonewall launched its Education for All campaign, and queer culture found itself embraced by straight communities like never before.
In cinemas, the journey towards LGBTQ+ representation sat within the drama genre, from Brokeback Mountain to A Home at the End of the World, with many choosing to explore themes of guilt, hidden love, and repression. Meanwhile, on TV, Will and Grace, Sugar Rush, and Queer as Folk USA continued to chip away at the rainbow glass ceiling. However, teen comedy remained a predominantly heterosexual affair despite the progress made. Here, US teen comedies continued to build on the straight, white and heterosexual world of the 1980s; when gay characters briefly appeared, their portrayal was often profoundly problematic; yes, I am talking to you EuroTrip (2004).
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Of course, there are a few notable exceptions to this rule, with The Broken Hearts Club, Saved and The Rules of Attraction all providing queer-friendly stories. But, in truth, none of these would easily find a mainstream teen audience. Therefore, the arrival of Another Gay Movie in 2006 was groundbreaking as Todd Stephens took the 80s and 90s teen sex comedy into a blazingly defiant gay world. In Stephens’ colourful suburbia, being LGBTQ+ was the norm, with no disapproving parents, out and proud celebrities and teachers and open discussion on gay sex.
Another Gay Movie’s stereotypes are built on the heterosexual perceptions of gay people that were still rife in the early millennium. Here Stephens gloriously dissects damaging heterosexual stereotypes through his tongue-in-cheek characters. But, where Another Gay Movie excels is its ability to set gay sex free from the social closet of the 80s and 90s. Here Stephens joyously normalises sex, desire and experimentation in same-sex relationships through comedy, allowing teens to explore their own development through laughter. Something heterosexual teens have long been able to achieve through mainstream comedy.
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Brash, bold, loud and proud. Another Gay Movie may not be world-class, but its place in gay cinematic history is assured. Todd Stephens’ movie reflected a new emerging queer confidence while tearing up the teen comedy rulebook. Love it or loathe it, without Another Gay Movie, LGBTQ+ cinema would be a far less wild place, and while it may not be perfect, it may be had more impact than we have ever given it credit for. Ultimately, whatever your thoughts, one thing is for sure, Another Gay Movie holds a unique place in LGBTQ+ moviemaking fifteen years after its release. It’s a one-off, an indie gem and more importantly, a brash, bold and brilliant glitter-covered celebration of queer sex.