by C.J. Arellano

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday November 11, 2008

With anti-gay legislation passed in three more states this past Election Day including California's now-infamous Proposition 8, it's all too clear that the GLBTQ community is still struggling to find a voice of any significance in America. Now more than ever, it's time for artists in the GLBTQ community to move, challenge, and connect with audiences. It's time for GLBTQ art to rise and give voice with their books, their music, their films.

Homotopia is not one of those films.

Homotopia - a 30-minute narrative about a renegade group of gays and their planned anarchist attack on a gay wedding (you read it right) - has been gaining traction on the underground film circuit. It most recently screened at Columbia College Chicago on Oct. 22, and has been previously shown at NYU, Swarthmore, Vassar, and Wesleyan. It will continue its tour across the country, and a sequel, titled Criminal Queers, is currently in production.

Written, produced, and directed on a nonexistent budget by two kind and soft-spoken gentlemen, Chris Vargas and Eric Stanley, Homotopia would have you believe that their film is an expos? on gay marriage's role in the GLBTQ movement. Before and after the screening, Vargas and Stanley spoke at length about how gay marriage isn't the community's ticket to social acceptance. Gay marriage only aims to assimilate members of the GLBTQ community into the oppressive "hetero-normative" fold. The fight for gay marriage only aims to please self-lauding members of the bleeding heart mainstream. Gay marriage, as they say, won't prevent a cop from beating up a transsexual.

Agree or disagree, these are provocative ideas that demand further exploration. Unfortunately, Homotopia undermines all of them with a muddled message, deplorable craftsmanship, worse taste, and - most devastatingly - a gross condescension of its own GLBTQ audience.

When Homotopia opens, two young men - strangers - eye each other in a sunny park, and within minutes, go at each other like ravenous dogs in a nearby bathroom stall. The scene is jarring in its content (needlessly pornographic, to put it mildly) and context (we are clearly meant to be thrilled at this act of sexual irresponsibility).

Soon after, we follow one of the young men home to his cronies, a collection of disappointing GLBTQ stereotypes. He can't stop gushing about his bathroom conquest... until he spots his playtime partner a few days later and learns the guy is getting married to some other guy!

Homotopia - a 30-minute narrative about a renegade group of gays and their planned anarchist attack on a gay wedding (you read it right) - has been gaining traction on the underground film circuit.

Our young hero feels oddly jilted, so what does he do to retaliate? He and his friends plan to bomb the upcoming gay wedding.

The premise... is disturbing, to say the least.

Before and after the screening, Vargas and Stanley spoke about the "right to violence." Excuse me? Yes, they assert that at certain times and certain places in history, violence is the only way to achieve freedom, justice, and voice.

With the Holocaust, Iraq, and more gay bashings than one can stomach to hear in the news, it is frightening that Vargas and Stanley are touring the country with this film and this message. The fact that they can't even get a grasp of their own idea is even worse: if their whole point is that homosexual monogamy is so problematic that it deserves a bombing, then why does our young hero get all up in arms when he finds out that his bathroom conquest "cheated" on him?

I asked a Columbia student at the screening what he thought of Homotopia, and he had this to say: "I honestly thought it was going to be some lame documentary, but I loved their fresh take on current events. There may have been too much sexual stuff - I feel there's actually a lot of sexual stuff in most recent gay films and it may be the type of stuff that gives non-gay people the wrong idea. Nevertheless, Stanley and Vargas nailed it. It was highly entertaining, and I would love to see the sequel to it."

If Homotopia lands at a venue near you, watch it and decide for yourself. Me, I think the gay community - not to mention the rest of the movie-going population - deserves something better than noxious stereotypes peddled by GLBTQ members who dare to turn the community against itself by promoting - not suggesting, but promoting - violence against anybody. We deserve films that will enlighten, inform, impress, awe, and shake audiences to action, understanding, and unity.

Come to think of it, I could use a good "lame documentary" just to clear my head of the dystopia that is Homotopia.