The year in film: Rainbow connections

edge-heavenIt was hard to spot a gay character in a widely released movie this year, other than the obvious Harvey Milk. The only one this reporter can think of offhand is Evan Rachel Wood in The Wrestler; Wood plays the daughter of Randy "the Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke). She lives with her girlfriend, but, refreshingly, this fact doesn't heighten the family drama: The Lycra-wearing Randy's no homophobe. In small-screen adaptations, Sex and the City proved to be the gayest movie about the life and loves of four heterosexual women, while Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom featured two grooms saying "I do" in Martha's Vineyard.

A fair share of docs focused on the lives of gay men: Chris & Don. A Love Story, Derek, The Universe of Keith Haring, Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell; the semiautobiographical Before I Forget featured ex-hustler Jacques Nolot's piquant remembrances. Both fiction (XXY) and nonfiction (The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela, Pageant) shone a light on the fluidity of gender roles. The clash between those pesky religious zealots and homosexuals played out in Saving Marriage and Save Me.

Several titles reminded us that bad things still happen to gay people: Otto; or Up with Dead People (they're homo zombies), The Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror (they make bad accommodation choices), Choose Connor (they're preyed upon by old pervy politicians). In fact, several movies in '08 focused on the "problems" of being gay in a hetero world: Tru Loved (coming out of the closet), I Can't Think Straight (the lady's engaged to a dude but feels some sapphic stirrings), The World Unseen (she's married to a dude...and see above), Breakfast with Scot (gays with internalized homophobia), A Very British Gangster (he's out and proud, but he's a thug), Were the World Mine (our hero drugs a straight dude to fall in love with him) and Antarctica (lesbians still love bad folk music).

Despite the downers, there were some notable highlights this year. Breakfast with Scot suggested how far ahead of us Canada is in terms of gay rights (where in the U.S. could you find Child Services urging a couple of reticent gay guys to take care of a kid?). The Edge of Heaven (pictured above) showcased the strength of one lesbian relationship. And, most important, Milk urged civil action and coming out of the closet. Here's hoping that some A-listers will do just that in 2009.