Imagine a world where homosexuality is both natural and normal and heterosexuality is perceived and treated as a sinful aberration.
The award winning short film Love Is All You Need? powerfully depicts this world where “gay” is “straight” and “straight” is “gay” and a sexual relationship between a man and a woman is a cultural, social and religious taboo.
The film is told from the perspective of the heroic protagonist; young Ashley Curtis who is raised in the “picture perfect” middle class white American family: two moms, two grandparents, two uncles and a little brother. She lives in a society where “playing house” means two moms or two dads and their children, Romeo and Julio was written by Shakespeare for his secret female lover and anyone who is attracted to the opposite sex is labelled as a “disgusting breeder.” At the wedding of her two uncles Ashley is attracted to a young male flower boy and realises that she is not like the rest of her family. Her open heterosexuality subjects her to physical, verbal and emotionally abuse and the only hope she is given is to pray that this is “just a phase”.
The first time I watched the film, I couldn’t help but focus on how this film portrayed an alternative world where homosexuality was the norm. But as the film drew me in, I forgot this and my attention was centred on the extreme isolation and abuse Ashley was subjected to because she dared to be different. She is beaten up, becomes a victim of cyber-bullying and branded a “Hetero” with black marker pen because she has an innocent crush on a boy. I felt sympathetic to Ashley not because I am also heterosexual but because I admired her courageous and tenacity in the face of extreme abuse, bullying and love with boundaries.
As I was thinking about writing this blog, I knew I wanted to include not just my own experience but if/how the video touched people who are gay. I reached out to two people and they both thought the video was very powerful and a convincing depiction of what it’s like to be a homosexual in today’s world; the video brought back their own personal stories and experiences. It beautifully captures how your parents, teachers, friends and media are key influencers on whether you decide to come out about your sexuality as well as common misconceptions that homosexuality is just a “phase” that can be easily “corrected” if you just get yourself a girlfriend/boyfriend. On one hand the video is hopeful because we are making progress as a society but on the other hand it shows how important this issues is and how far we have to go. Take the recent news of Sir Gerald Howarth’s challenge to David Cameron to scrap the gay marriage bill and the death of Lucy Meadows, a transgender teacher who committed suicide following harassment by the media and other sources after she returned to school from winter break as a female. Let us willingly share this video, let us talk about it so that one day stories like this become historical fiction.