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Queer Voices gives regular gays their say

Organizers of the third annual Queer Voices of the North Film Festival wanted to send a message of inclusiveness. "We want people to know we are just regular guys who are gay," said Bob Hughes, a festival organizer.

Organizers of the third annual Queer Voices of the North Film Festival wanted to send a message of inclusiveness.

"We want people to know we are just regular guys who are gay," said Bob Hughes, a festival organizer. "It's about educating the heterosexual community as well as being inclusive."

Held last night at Galaxy Cinemas in conjunction with Shadows of the Mind Film Festival, the theme of the 2008 Queer Voices was youth and hockey.

Queer Voices began at Algoma University College and has been a festival within Shadows of the Mind for the past two years.

This year, Theatre 11 where the screenings took place was nearly full, with attendance up significantly from last year.

"The festival more than doubles each year," said Josh Hughes, another festival organizer. "This year we actually convinced [Canadian film and television director Laurie] Lynd [shown] to come here instead of attending the festival he was invited to in Australia. It's a major coup for us," Hughes said.

Queer Voices presented two films directed by Lynd, as well as an opportunity to dialogue with him and a gala afterwards at Arcadia Coffeehouse and Whitespace Gallery.

The first film screened was The Making of Monsters, which Lynd produced as a student in 1991.

It's about four teens who attacked and killed a gay teacher in Toronto in early 1985 in Toronto's High Park.

Lynd told festival-goers that the only time they will be able to see it is at festivals.

"Legally, we aren't allowed to charge people to see this film because the estate of Georg Lukacs has blocked it," he said. "It's actually quite surprising to me because I thought it was the sort of thing he would have appreciated if he were alive to see it."

Lukacs, a Hungarian Marxist literary critic and theorist who died in 1971, is credited by many as being the greatest influence on the western Marxist movement and is characterized in The Making of Monsters.

Admission to the festival last night was by donation and audience members asked questions about both The Making of Monsters and Lynd's latest film, Breakfast With Scot.

Both Josh and Bob Hughes agreed that Breakfast With Scot vividly portrays the message they would like heterosexuals in the North to understand about their queer northern brothers and sisters.

Bob said the film characterizes gay men as real men who play hockey, have careers and families. That helps to tear down some of the negative stereotypes that are still out there in the community, he said.

Breakfast With Scot is based on a novel of the same name.

It's the story of a "very straight gay couple," meaning two men who don't hide their relationship, but who also aren't openly affectionate and whose relationship might not be immediately apparent to casual acquaintances.

Their lifestyle and relationship is thrown into turmoil when they reluctantly become the guardians of Scot, a budding queen of an eleven-year-old boy.

Noah Bernett is irresistible in the role of Scot as he drags ex-Toronto Maple Leaf-turned-sportscaster Eric (played by Thomas Cavanagh) through his fears of being 'outed' into an acceptance of who he is, both as a gay man and a willing father.

Ben Shenkman plays Sam, Eric's partner.

The Toronto Maple Leafs fully endorsed this film and its depiction of parenting.

Bob and Josh Hughes like the film. arguing that the relationship Sam and Eric are portrayed in is very realistic.

The film educates heterosexuals about the 'regular guy gayness' found in gay marriage, they say.

Lynd says that's no accident and it was probably one of the most difficult aspects of making Breakfast With Scot.

"When we were casting for the role of Scot we had a bunch of 10- and 11-year-old boys up there mincing around the way they thought a gay boy would," he said. "It really was quite painful to watch."

Lynd said that during that process, he sometimes doubted the movie would be successful.

But when he saw Bernett, he was reassured as all the pieces fell into place.

Breakfast With Scot will be available on DVD in mid-March.