I love queer films. I love watching queers folks do queer stuff and seeing my queer life reflected on screen.

It’s entertaining, reaffirming and cathartic — unless the film’s a dud and you wish you had have watched Twilight 4 instead.

So I was a little worried at the opening night of Mardi Gras Film Fest last week when festival director Lex Lindsay made a disclaimer that the film we were about to watch wasn’t very gay. The packed audience collectively choked on their rainbow popcorn.

What did he mean? Was the film only bi-curious? Did it dabble in gay? Or was it just straight-acting?

Five minutes into Dirty Girl and we knew what he was on about. The film wasn’t just about being gay, it didn’t just focus on gay people and it didn’t feature in-your-face gay sex — even though it included all of the above. It was a film about friendship, love and family.

Danielle, the ‘dirty girl’ of an Oklahoma high school, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Clarke, the unpopular gay boy, after they’re forced to work together on a school project. Both their families are messed up so they run away to find a better deal. It’s less coming out, more coming of age — and all ends happily ever after like an episode of Glee, musical theatre included.

I totally dug it. So did everyone I spoke to at the after-party. And we all sang Don’t Cry Out Loud, the film’s signature song, like a big gay chorus.

Lex’s comment reminded me of when gay folks say they don’t want to be defined by their sexuality alone — it’s just part of the package. Dirty Girl was super-camp and was directed by a gay man — but it was a universal story that anyone could relate to.

It got me wondering how queer a film has to be to be a “queer film”. Little Miss Sunshine has a gay character, X-Men has queer themes — do they count?

And if we one day live in a ‘post-gay’ world where eclectic sexualities and genders are just part of the norm, what will queer mean then?

Until then, I’m just excited when shows like Home and Away feature a gay kiss. Thankfully queer film festivals are there to fill audiences in on the more intimate details.

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