James Franco says upcoming film challenges typical gay narrative

By : Staff Report
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James Franco says his upcoming movie, I Am Michael, is different than other LGBT films but that it is certainly not anti-gay.

Franco and I Am Michael writer/director, Justin Kelly, spoke with Benoit Denizet-Lewis, the writer of the New York Times Magazine article on which the film is based, about the complexities of doing a film so controversial for a new interview for BlackBook.

“There’s the coming out narrative, the fighting for rights narrative, the closeted secret affair narrative, like we saw in Brokeback Mountain,” said Franco. “All of these films are very important, but not every movie needs to be like that. Once those stories are told, we can tell unexpected ones that might challenge us or make us uncomfortable in some ways.”

I Am Michael tells the true life story of Michael Glatze, co-founder of Young Gay America magazine, and his story of finding religion and renouncing his homosexuality. Many critics of the film say it portrays an anti-gay image and that the Christian right might try and use the film as evidence that conversion therapy can work.

“I will admit I was surprised at how I’ve had to occasionally defend the movie to some gay critics who think that telling Michael’s story supports the anti-gay right,” said Kelly. “I don’t think that’s fair. We all have the right to tell our stories, and telling Michael’s story by no means seeks to condone his beliefs. No one involved in the making of this film supports ex-gay conversation therapy or believes that gay people can choose to be straight.”

“What I think is so innovative about I Am Michael is that we’re watching a man go in an unexpected direction,” said Franco. “That direction brings up a lot of questions about identity, and what identity consists of, and how it’s defined, and who gets to decide. And this film tackles faith versus sexuality, and the tensions there, in an important way.”

I Am Michael, also starring Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 29 and is making its way through the film festival circuit. It will be the opening night film for the Framline Film Festival in San Francisco on June 18.

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