There’s plenty to like in novelist Larry Duplechan‘s book about his favourite queer (or queer-appealing) films.
‘Movies That Made Me Gay’ is a witty and bitchy deep dive into a number of seasonally curated “personal film festivals.”
Duplechan, the author of several novels, is a Black gay man in his sixties who hails from a musical family and his age, race, and family (both biological and found) all heavily inform the films he discusses.
After an introductory chapter in which he outlines some of his favourite childhood and teenage films, including classics such as The Wizard of Oz and The Boys in the Band, Duplechan takes readers through personally curated holiday marathons organized chronologically throughout the year. This means chapters dedicated to Black History Month, Lent/Easter (aka “Jesus and Judy”), Pride Month, Fourth of July, Halloween, and finally Christmas.
Each section works like a cross between a listicle and a memoir, offering personal information about Duplechan, his history with the holiday, as well as his relationship with brother Lloyd, and his husband Greg. It’s evident that he’s intimately familiar with these films and Duplechan’s ability to contextualize and situate the films in relation to Hollywood history, particularly Old Hollywood, is wonderfully insightful.
It should be noted, however, that Duplechan has very specific tastes, which may limit or narrow the appeal of the book. He’s very fond of musicals (which makes sense given his background) so that genre of film infiltrates nearly every section, often dominating his selections (for better or worse, depending on how much you love a song and dance movie).
Duplechan also has very strong, occasionally divisive responses to films: he loves a diva, a songstress, and a beautiful gown. So while he frequently claims not to judge anyone’s taste in films, this is his memoir and he’s not afraid to diss a text or actor he doesn’t like.
For someone who doesn’t have a strong background in either musicals or Black cinema, many of these picks were intriguing to me as a reader. However, for holidays or “personal film festivals” that I have greater knowledge of – ie: Halloween – I’ll confess that Duplechan’s selections feel…unadventurous. Beetlejuice, Poltergeist, The Bride of Frankenstein, and Little Shop of Horrors are pretty basic choices and my mild disappointment made me wonder how limited some of the other holidays will feel for readers who have a fountain of knowledge about those films.
Thankfully even when the movies themselves aren’t deep cuts, the writing is never less than enjoyable. Duplechan has a wonderful way with words and the prose is eminently readable, aided both by the author’s irrefutably distinct personality and a healthy dose of queer slang peppered throughout.
While I would have loved some more adventurous picks in certain sections of the book and the heavy emphasis of musicals may prove off-putting for some readers, overall, Duplechan’s combination of sarcasm, wit, and readability makes Movies That Made Me Gay an easy recommendation.
It’s a really solid gift idea or a conversation starting coffee table book. 4/5
Movies That Made Me Gay is now available wherever books are sold