As I stepped inside the Tower Theatre, I looked around nervously. I had prepared my outfit trying to come up with the gayest and best-looking duds in my closet. My hands shook as I reached for my wallet and approached the counter.
“One for the Brokeback Mountain,” my voice cracked when I spoke to the cute guy behind the counter.
“That’ll be $50,” he joked with me as he printed a ticket. “They’re free tonight. Do you have a date or friend with you? Do you need two?”
“Yeah,” I stammered. “I have a date. Maybe I should get an extra ticket for my date.”
My face burning with embarrassment, I took my two tickets and went to hide in the back of the theater for the special screening of Brokeback Mountain, my first gay movie and my first gay event.
Just three short weeks after I had come back from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I served the Mormon Church faithfully for two years, I was sitting in the back of a theater watching the people come in.
This was it. It was finally my chance to meet people like me. I was going to observe the gays in their natural habitat.
I wanted to see the movie. I heard it was a love story between cowboys and I always thought Jake Gyllenhaall was a sexy beast. But I wasn’t there for the movie. I really wanted to find a place where I could feel accepted. Where I wouldn’t feel out of place or confused. I was there for the company, not the film.
The lights dimmed and I was still in the back, alone. As the opening scenes began to unfold, I became enveloped in the story. I was astounded at the intoxicating beauty of the scenery and the simple, yet powerful bond that was shared in this forbidden love story.
When Ennis wandered through Jack’s bedroom and found his blue shirt, I broke down with the rest of the crowd and knew it wasn’t a gay movie, like I had always been told. It was a love story and the two people in love just happened to be men.
For a young, gay return missionary, this revelation, that two men could love each other was so profound. It never had occurred to me that two men, who could never biologically produce children together, could somehow need each other like a man and a woman could.
Tori Baker, the executive director of the Salt Lake Film Society told me that the society has always, and will always show LGBT-oriented films. She said there is a need to have films in society that reflect the everyday experiences of our community.
I’ve often thought that Glee will do more to shape the attitudes of people and the way they treat their gay and lesbian classmates and co-workers than any non-discrimination law. Showing movies that feature LGBT characters in a positive role will help not just young gay boys like myself, but also my little brother, who reacted so calmly when I came out. The more exposure through film and media there is, the less we’ll need hate crimes legislation and same-sex marriage will become even more of an inevitability.