by SUNNY BURNS and NICK BOND

A gay man’s masculinity is sometimes determined by the amount of bronzer he slaps on, the amount of body hair that’s left to grow or how brightly his inner flame shines.

The newly released gay film A Four Letter Word deconstructs these and other facets of gay identity as it unfolds.

The New York-based movie tells the story of Luke, played by Jesse Archer, who finds his match (Stephen, played by Charlie David) in a bar. It goes on to tackle the big issues of long-term relationships, monogamy, sexual compulsiveness and gay men who try to be straight-acting.

Archer, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film, said the straight-acting facade was a key point he was trying to highlight in the film.

When I was writing it, I was really sick of seeing on Gaydar profiles -˜straight-acting only, no fems, no faggots’ -” it’s so self-defeating and self-loathing, he said.

I think it’s the biggest issue we fight in the gay community, this internalised homophobia. It’s okay to be yourself, whoever that is. If you’re a stereotype, if you’re a gay cliche, then own it.

In the last scene of the movie the protagonist tones down the typecasting by swapping the feather boa for a pair of army shorts.

But he did have a little glitter -˜L’ on the back of those camouflage shorts, Archer said.

I think we went a little bit overboard in the costume department with all of Luke’s jewellery and stuff -¦ Casper [filmmaker] said at one point, -˜Why are you putting so much jewellery on? No one is going to believe that someone like Stephen [his love interest] is going to be into this flamer.’

I was like, -˜That’s the whole point of the film -” Stephen’s attracted to Luke because he is so unabashedly himself, and Stephen is unable to be himself.’

info: A Four Letter Word is available from all good gay and lesbian book and DVD shops now.

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