As part of my movie watching for TGGeeks I’ve decided to take a look at movies and short films for the LGBTQ community that have probably flown under most people’s radar, and this time I’m going to examine two short indie films, the first being Easy and the second Just Ask Him.
First, we meet David. He’s a young (17 years old?) Jewish man. He’s getting dressed up and then leaves his house and is walking down the street. He looks incredibly happy. Now we meet Jonathan. He’s a 17-year-old Christian man. Just before he leaves his house he has a rather stiff conversation with his father. Jonathan says that his dad could be happy for him. His father simply tells him to be grateful for his tolerance. Despite that, when Jonathan leaves his house you see a smile on his face. Now we see David working in a coffee shop and his mom shows up. She lovingly teases him and reminds him to be home on time. The conversation is filled with smiles, although David might seem a wee bit embarrassed by the exchange. Still, it’s all filled with love. As she leaves, she runs into Jonathan. The two of them have a very friendly greeting with each other (Jonathan is on a first-name basis with her) and she asks if she and David will be seeing him later. He confirms that and they depart with a hug. Later, as David is walking home he is greeted by Jonathan with a kiss as they walk hand-in-hand to David’s home, and they are both all smiles.
This short film from 2014 is only 4 minutes long. There is nothing complex about it. It’s pure and simple and that is its charm. The two actors, Connor Gerton as David, and Zachary Prescott as Jonathan are delightful to look at. They both exude that young love expression when they see each other that just warms the heart. The subtext is interesting. David’s Jewish mother loves her son unconditionally and is very welcoming to the Christian Jonathan. On the other hand, Jonathan’s father has an issue. We don’t know if it’s because Jonathan is gay or if it’s because his boyfriend is Jewish. What is important is that whatever issues that may cause a divide between some people are completely overlooked by these two young characters to where they can find their own happiness. There is also the interesting use of names because in the Old Testament there were Jonathan (the son of Israel’s King Saul) and David who killed the giant Goliath. It is believed that the two of them had a very loving same-sex relationship. Perhaps the real message is that God does not look down on one religion or another, or one type of sexuality over another. In the end, it is all about coming together in love. The closing message of this short film sums it all up by simply saying, “and it was good.”
Just Ask Him
Andrew is an out gay high school student and he lives in what his best friend Joelle calls “Dickville USA.” Their high school is having a Gay Prom that is unsurprisingly met with your typical homophobia. Meanwhile, Andrew finds himself hopelessly crushing on the school’s new student Ricky, a sports-jock specializing in soccer. Ricky is friendly to Andrew, but all Andrew can think about is dating Ricky.
This 13-minute short recently premiered and has a story that most people might find to be rather cliché. What does set this apart from so many other teen-angst films are the performances from its cast, specifically Donovan Napoli as Andrew, Rio Padilla-Smith as Ricky, and Sherri Z. Heller as Andrew’s mother. Starting with Heller, she gave both a loving and humorous performance as the supportive mom that so many of us in the LGBTQ community wish we could have had when growing up. Even when she catches Andrew fantasizing about kissing Ricky she doesn’t humiliate or embarrass him. Instead, she tries to encourage him to ask Ricky out. The performance is at just the right level. Not enough and she becomes unbelievable. Too much and she comes off as a one-person Pride Parade.
Padilla-Smith walks a very fine line as Ricky, showing that he’s friendly with Andrew, but until the end, we are left in the dark if he has an attraction to Andrew or not. Padilla-Smith does an admirable job at keeping the emotional intent completely in check. Lastly, Napoli as Andrew portrays the same emotions that all of us gay nerds who grew up idolizing certain jocks experienced while in high school. Early on when Andrew almost lovingly gazes at Ricky as he bounces his soccer ball there is an expression that Napoli gives that I immediately identified with. It’s the same expression I probably had on my face while watching my high school crush play baseball. Throughout the entire movie, Napoli convincingly displays what it feels like to have that all-consuming attraction for another person who is not only of the same gender but in a completely different social circle making him all that more unreachable. It is a performance that makes this short film immediately relatable to anyone watching it from the LGBTQ community.
Both of these short films are absolutely marvelous. Easy made me cry with its tender and direct message about unconditional love, and Just Ask Him made my heart both ache and purr from the performances of its cast. They can both be found on YouTube.