Believe it or not, you made it through another year. But wait, it’s not that time of year yet, right? There’s Halloween and Thanksgiving and, gee, something called the Midterm Elections to get through. If you don’t believe this columnist, turn on the Hallmark Channel. They’ve already started the holiday romantic comedy festival, and when that begins, New Year’s is soon to follow.
So, what was 2022 all about for the LGBTQ+ community? Here’s one quick story that explains a lot.
At this time last year, Billy Eichner was filming his historic LGBT rom-com “Bros” for Universal Pictures. The first major studio to underwrite a rom-com about LGBTQ+ people made by and starring LGBTQ+ people. Everyone was cheering, asking why it had taken so long, and praising Billy Eichner for pursuing his vision.
When it was previewed last month for critics, it got a roaring 88% on rotten tomatoes. Everyone knew it would be a hit.
A few weeks ago, “Bros” opened in wide release to over 3,300 theaters. It busted financially, making a paltry 4.8 million, which might be okay for a low-budget indie film, but not for this major studio outfit.
Everyone had opinions on why a critically acclaimed film laid an egg. Twitter was awash in debates over what happened. So here’s the first question I asked of my friends as everyone on Twitter was rushing to blame Eichner: Did you know there was this gay rom-com coming to a theatre near you?
Most of my friends were unaware or had only heard a little about it, but all of them said they’d see it if they knew about it. Would it surprise you to know whoever did the PR for the film totally took the LGBTQ+ community for granted? I’m not aware of a single ad bought on queer media. It’s as if Universal Films thought we all had ESP or that our gaydar included film releases.
When the PR people sent Eichner out for interviews, it wasn’t about how funny and uplifting the film was, but how historic. When it comes to LGBTQ+ history, there’s no one more interested than me. But I know most of the moviegoing public, including our own community, doesn’t want a history lesson when going to a film. What they want is to be entertained. The film is VERY entertaining, but when you have six minutes for an interview and five are about the history surrounding the film, you don’t have much time to discuss the plot.
Along the way, the promotion department struck out. While they were giving history lessons, they also didn’t seem to understand the meaning of rom-com. There is no real sex in rom-coms. It’s all about the chase, falling in love… it’s a romantic comedy, after all. Rom-coms are generally G rated. The poster the promotion department did for “Bros,” had the men not holding hands but holding each other’s asses. That, my friends, is once again the over-sexualization of our community.
Universal should be applauded for being the first big Hollywood studio to allow Eichner to follow his dream, and as an artist, Eichner hit a home run. Something both he and Universal should take great pride in. I urge you to see this film! Did I mention Eicher runs an LGBTQ+ museum?
At least now we can put “Bros” behind us and sit back and watch Hallmark Channel’s historic film, “The Holiday Sitter.” It’s the first for that channel where the LGBTQ+ story is the main story. Not the subplot, but the main one. We’re finally front and center on Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas Film Extravaganza. Do you have your snow shovel ready?
Mark Segal is the founder and publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. He is also an author, activist and one of the founding members of the Gay Liberation Front.