Weekend is one of my favorite films of the year. It is a powerful film with brilliant performances. The film follows two men as they hang out over a weekend and slowly fall for each other. Weekend has consistently been compared to Before Sunrise for multiple reasons. Both films follow the beginning of a relationship over a short period of time (a day or two). The two characters that fall for each other are very different people that result in amazing conversations. Both films involve a lot of talking. Entire scenes are devoted to conversations between these two characters. I understand where the comparisons come from, but in my opinion this comparison undermines the story Weekend tells.
I’ve heard Weekend described as a “universal story about falling in love and sex,” but what is universal about coming out to your parents? As a straight man I never had to tell my mother, “Mom. I’m attracted to women.” It was always assumed I was because society tells us that’s what’s right. That’s what’s natural. We live in a world where GOP candidates receive standing ovations for saying gay men and women should keep their sexual orientations a secret in the military or have no right to get married. Where Newt Gingrich can divorce two women for younger women when they get sick with cancer or multiple sclerosis, but two men or women being married destroys the institution of marriage and family values. So I ask you again. What is universal about telling your parents you are not what society tells you you’re supposed to be? What’s universal about not introducing the person you love to your parents? How does a straight man or woman relate to being beat up for loving the person they do? For being called fag simply for walking down the street by yourself? For being made fun of by everyone around you as you try to have an intimate, loving moment with the one you love before they leave before an extended period of time?
Weekend is not an universal film about love. It is an incredibly specific film that deals with two gay men’s potential relationship. The amazing thing about Weekend is it tackles LGBTQ issues in an incredibly subtle and powerful way. Andrew Haigh doesn’t try to smash you over the head with a hammer. He simply presents two real, amazing people and lets them fall in love. They naturally have conversations about what relationships mean to them, coming out to their parents, a homophobic society, being surrounded by straight PSA. The film makes this brilliant point by simply having a group of men graphically talking about having sex with women while one of the main characters sits near them. He doesn’t stop them, but we know the other men would stop him if he did the same thing. How many times have you heard someone say, “I have no problem with gay people. I just don’t want to see it.” Why should LGBTQ people have hide who they are when straight people flaunt who they are every single day? When the media uses straight sex to sell everything from beer to gum to the masses?
And why does gay sex have to be compared to straight sex? Why does Weekend have to be compared to Before Sunrise? I believe the comparison reveals the discomfort some people still have with someone that is is different than themselves. “I have no problem with gay people. I just don’t want to see it.” A film like Weekend is obviously a tremendous work of art, but it appears some people can’t just accept it for what it is. It has to be compared to some social norm to be considered legitimate. And to be clear, I’m not saying a straight individual can’t empathize with the films relationship. The characters are very relatable. I’m just tired of the film consistently being compared to films that tackled straight relationships because a straight relationship and a gay relationship are not the same thing. Eliminating all the social factors that affect a gay relationship and claiming all relationships are the same is condescending and ridiculous. All relationships are different because no person deals with the exact same social pressures. Lumping everyone together implies we’re living in a society devoid of discrimination. That things don’t need to get better. So, please stop calling Weekend “the gay Before Sunrise.” Watch the film on its own terms (the film is currently on Netflix Instant), and I hope you see it for what is really is. An incredibly intimate, specific, and brilliant film about two men falling in love.