i decided to post something after i watched jared leto’s acceptance speech just following his being named best actor in a supporting role for his portrayal of the character “rayon” in “dallas buyer’s club” . albeit a bit long for my taste, it was eloquent, tender, intelligent, and considerate of so many others needs beyond his own.
i must admit i have been on pins and needles since he won an award for the same role at the golden globes where his speech was more lighthearted and industry focused which in my mind is his only responsibility. in my mind, art, film, and theater are intrinsically connected to free speech and free thought. without those ingredients we simply have propaganda. “dallas buyer’s club” in no way represented propaganda to me. in contrary it represented a simple and forward effort to represent the ingenuity and the focus of some humans from the underclass doing their best to survive. but there was unleashed a pandora’s box of the how’s and why’s that leto shouldn’t have played that role and that he did it a dis-service. i humbly submit to the nastiest and sharpest of those tongues that they simply make their own damn film. this is a democracy and it is based on free speech. none of the dialogue nor the ideas presented were inflicting discrimination or pain in any real way other than the oppression felt by subcultures living with aids.
here is a excerpt from the times magazine article about this topic by steve friess which helped lead me to sense that the lgbt thought police were near or maybe just some hiv nazis. in this quote i am especially offended with the way he uses the term “drug addicted prostitute” as if they were dirty words. i have found it best to leave the mud-slinging to the moral majority. let’s not forget that the lgbtq community (especially runaway youth) does have patterns of the largest and deeply embedded substance abuse and mental wellness in our nation.
What did the writers of “Dallas Buyers Club” and Leto as her portrayer decide to make Rayon? Why, she’s a sad-sack, clothes-obsessed, constantly flirting transgender drug addict prostitute, of course. There are no stereotypes about transgender women that Leto’s concoction does not tap. She’s an exaggerated, trivialized version of how men who pretend to be women — as opposed to those who feel at their core they are women — behave. And in a very bleak film, she’s the only figure played consistently for comic relief, like the part when fake-Woodruff points a gun at Rayon’s crotch and suggests he give her the sex change she’s been wanting. Hilarious.
Read more: Don’t Applaud Jared Leto’s Transgender ‘Mammy’ | TIME.com http://ideas.time.com/2014/02/28/dont-applaud-jared-letos-transgender-mammy/#ixzz2uutkbd4h
i wanted to be clear that in 1974 through 1977 i lived with a transgendered person in chicago and ran with the show queen crowd. i am certain i was gender conflicted, but since i ran away at 16 i was no doubt conflicted on every level. my experience is that transgendered/crossdressing individuals are not homogenized in the slightest bit. and i do not expect them to be. the individuals i have known in my 40 years of living “out” have been colorful, sometimes dark, most times off-center, and rarely politically correct. as a matter of fact, i am still not clear the “t” part of the lgbtq label that gets thrown around like an old pashmina has even really begun to assimilate. it is more commonplace for many folks to believe in equality but not practice inclusion in their personal lives.
when i first saw the film, i walked away with a renewed sense of pride in knowing that i belong to a subculture of independent, artistic, and alternatively minded people who possess both ingenuity and drive which transcends social norms and create admirable lives in spite of the bondage of cultural standards. i hate to think that the lgbtq community i joined 40 years ago has spun itself into a small thinking cul-de-sac of shame-on-you’s. i will hold on to the idea that americans who died from hiv/aids in the 1980s carved their paths from necessity and not from a knapsack of should’s and shouldn’t(s).
amidst all this brouhaha i have come to this determination. the dialogue about inclusion and diversity needs to continue. but “dallas buyers club” is a simple film, told powerfully, to express an idea and a perception about the human spirit. jared leto is in no way responsible for the challenges of transgender persons-neither in film nor in life. the film and his ability has helped bring a larger conversation about hiv and about transgendered persons into view. the performances had such impact that articles are being written and performances are being acknowledged. for this gay man living hiv since 1985, i find both of these outcomes worth the effort. and i especially loved “dallas buyers club” -the imperfections and the home runs. i really recoil when i am confronted with those that insist on telling me how people should act and should live. it reminds me of being a teenager and i ran away from that live 40 years ago – and certainly i have encountered many politically incorrect situations. i have come to believe that those hard experiences shaped my life and my heart- they didn’t distract from it. and i hope we are not sending messages to young gay, lesbian, and transgendered people that you have to be a certain way and think a certain way in order to be part of our community.
Once I ran to you
now I’ll run from you
This tainted love you’ve given –
I give you all a boy could give you.
Take my tears and that’s not nearly all – oh
tainted love – tainted love.