We didn’t buy tickets early, as we drove down the streets of Spokane we discussed this possibility. My best friend and I saw no need in a conservative town like this, we were just happy it was even here to see. As we rounded the corner on a busy downtown street our resolve was shaken. There they stood, small in number but mighty in ignorance. A group of people huddled in the cold holding their swords of righteousness; picket signs. “Real Men Love Jesus” and “Jesus Saves, Stop Sinning,” reprimanding our existence as we drove by in shocked horror. Why were we shocked at all? You would think with our experience we would be numb to it, but it will never cease to take us off guard, this blind ignorance, this blatant disrespect for fellow human beings. All I could think to say was, “I love Jesus and last I checked I was a man.” Not even able to comprehend how one’s sexuality could negate their spirituality. We pressed on and headed back to the safe confines of Dana’s apartment, where the world made much more sense to us.
After collecting ourselves and adding Dana’s partner, Jay, to our group we headed out. None of us knew what we should expect of the night or the movie. So much buzz and hype had surrounded it, so many promises and expectations we held. We arrived early, normal by Dana’s and my standards. We got our tickets without a hitch and headed into the theater. We chose the very back row, mostly for Jay’s comfort, but also a strategic position to view the people who might attend. We were one of the first to arrive. I wondered in my head how many might show, I wondered if all the hype I had personally given this film would be proven right or foolish, I wondered if I would cry.
One by one they piled in and kept piling in. They seemed endless, a sea of people swelling before me. I loved watching them, people from all walks of life, gay and straight, married and single, loners and groups, they were all there. I felt a sense of pride seeing them all, I had taken some personal ownership in this film, like so many in the gay and lesbian community. By the moment it was time to start there was not a single seat left wanting. This “conservative” town had come out en mass.
Finally the lights went down and the previews started. You could feel the impatience in the room as we waited for it. After what seemed like eternity, the music started and soon the words hit our awaiting eyes and I exhaled, as if I had waited my lifetime for this. “Brokeback Mountain” emblazoned across the screen and I was transfixed!
I will admit, for being the one who had talked so big about a movie I hadn’t even seen, who spoke so passionately, I have held secret questionings in my heart. Would it live up to the short story, would it live up to the hype, could it actually transcend sexuality and be a movie souly (misspelling intentional) about love and it’s power? Is it possible to create something that can transcend our learned prejudice in this society and touch even those who wouldn’t normally see past the “gay cowboys?” I carried these concerns into the movie.
On the other side, as the credits began to roll and the music began its retreat, I had my answer. After the applause died down, many just sat, as I did, to collect ourselves, to reflect, to process, to stop the streaming of tears that could not be contained. Yes, this movie transcended, yes it reached beyond what I could have ever dreamed. It did what art is supposed to do. It spoke to you in the language that only your soul can understand. It hits you on a level deeper than you knew you had. When the poster says “Love is a force of nature,” they do not lie.
If you have ever loved someone so much it hurts, you will understand this movie. If you have ever dreamed of that love, this movie will speak to you. If you have ever loved and lost, this is your story. Love knows no gender, only soul. This movie is the story of a testament to that love.
I urge you to see this film, take your friends. It is an amazing movie that will no doubt, at this writing, be at the Oscars. It is also an important film that has the ability to enlighten and change the way the world views gays and lesbians. I WILL bring it to this town, will you come see it if I do? I need you there. If not for me, then for Jack and Enis, and for all of the Jack’s and Enis’ of this world. Their love deserves to SHINE!
Jonathan Shuffield is a student in the school of life. He has toured with his music and as a public speaker and been intensely involved within the non-profit community for 11 years. He is currently the President of an organization called SHINE that strives to eliminate all forms of prejudice and discrimination by promoting awareness, education, and self-empowerment through the use of the arts.