Beauty and the Beast was on the top of the list for what we had planned with Ruby and Sadie this weekend. Knowing that a lot of showings had sold out, we arrived at the theatre for its first showing and about 20 minutes early. We bought our tickets and were ushered in. What with popcorn and visits to the toilet, those few minutes disappeared quickly.
Joe and I were both interested in the movie for several reasons one of which, of course, had been the 'gay controversy' over a moment in the film. We had steadfastly refused to read reviews for fear of learning what the moment was. We did know that it was a moment that had caused a lot of commentary. From people saying it was so brief as to be meaningless, to people saying that Disney was trying to use demonic forces to turn kids gay. We knew the movie had been banned in a couple of countries, because of that moment, and that Russia was so frightened of those few seconds that they'd determined only adults could see it.
But mostly we'd heard dismissals about the moment. The 'it's no big deal' and 'it's 2017 for heavens sake' (a statement that makes no sense at all) came the commentary from 'our side of the aisle.' Whatever it was, this moment, we went in excited to see what all the fuss was about. And then, forgot entirely all about it. The film is lush and beautiful and visually startling even. The music was fun and there were hilarious moments. The girls, who are as fun to watch as the movie itself, were enchanted.
Then, it happened.
And it was just a couple of seconds.
Played for fun.
Presented in humour.
But warmly, very, very, warmly.
It was like a kick in the gut. A moment in a film will not change the world, it might challenge the world, but it won't change it. But a moment in a film can change an individual's experience of the world. It came when I didn't expect it. It came when I was no longer waiting for it. It came like a sucker punch.
I am a 64 year old gay man, who grew up in a world very different than the one I am living in now. I will always be more than my history but my history forms the core of how I see myself in relationship to the world. The years of fear. The years of shadow living. The years of swelling anger. Those years matter. Those years affect my world view.
I don't trust that what is now will be tomorrow.
An election ...
a change in economics ...
an outrageous act by an individual that carries group blame ...
... can change how I exist in this world now.
But ... so can ...
Intentional acts of warmth and welcome.
It was just a fleeting moment. In a Disney movie. About love happening in unexpected places with unexpected people. And true to that theme, a moment happened.