I got the idea for Adam & Steve after a rather painful
breakup. I was in my mid-thirties and confused as to why it seemed neither
me nor my other friends could sustain a lasting romantic relationship.
At the time, I was re-reading Joseph Campbell’s The Power
of Myth and I began to think about the importance of mythology
in everyday life. Growing up, I learned of romantic love through movies.
Casablanca, The Way We Were, When Harry Met Sally.
I watched these movies and like any audience member, dutifully superimposed
myself over the main characters. I thoughtlessly imagined myself as
one half of every movie couple I saw. As I got older, I began to realize
that those images could only satisfy me to a point. I was not a woman
in love with a straight man or the other way around. I was gay. And
I realized I had no images of male intimacy, aside from always-plentiful
Gay cinema has often been about dark desires, longing for the unattainable
go-go boy or unavailable straight guy, but rarely about actually being
in a relationship. The gay filmmakers that made these films were often
in loving relationships. So was I. Yet we didn’t make movies about
them. ‘The love that dare not speak its name,’ indeed, I
began to think.
I wanted to make my relationship movie a comedy. In doing so, I wanted
to recapture a sense of irreverence that seems lost in the independent
film community of today. So many filmmakers strive to co-opt John Cassavetes,
but why is no one sampling John Waters? Didn’t he start this whole
independent film thing too? Or early Woody Allen?
Comedy is very hard. Much harder to pull off than most dramas. Comedy
is, in essence, anti-establishment. Comedy is anarchy. I loved the comic
anarchy of Pink Flamingos, the shameless slapstick of Love
and Death. I knew this kind of comedy would allow me to say what
I wanted, to be really creative with the story and subject matter.
The process of combining comic irreverence with a reverent love story
was a challenge. Adam & Steve has gross-out humor but it
also has big emotions. It does not take itself seriously and is intended
to be a middle finger to a certain kind of pretense. I wanted to make
a fun, silly, accessible, go-for-the-joke movie, something shameless,
cornball, smart and iconic. I wanted people to laugh but I also wanted
them to love the characters.
Through irreverent comedy I could make a point about a gay love relationship
that would not seem preachy or precious. The comedy would also allow
the audience to relax and be receptive to the plights of my protagonists,
Adam—a recovering alcoholic, and Steve—a sex addict. I wanted
to tackle certain issues but not make it too heavy-handed. In my movie,
I make fun of gays. I make fun of straights. I make fun of romance.
I make fun of these things while at the same time paying homage to them.
This gives the movie its unique tone.
Ultimately, I think Adam & Steve is a movie about movies.
If I learned about love through the mythology of heterosexual romances,
I believe gay people need their romantic myths too, for how does one
love without love stories? It stems out of my rejection of cynicism.
With age and experience, I no longer feel the need to define myself
solely as an outsider, a victim. Even more so, I think audiences are
tired of carrying the ‘queer cross of martyrdom’ as they
leave theaters. Some viewers have said Adam & Steve makes
them open to the idea of love, that it makes them feel romantically
optimistic. In the era of the ‘jaded queer in love with longing,’
that statement just might be as subversive as a drag queen eating dog
shit in Baltimore.