Consider the situation in "Our Sons." Donald, a 28-year-old architect, is dying of AIDS complications in San Diego.He was kicked out of his Arkansas home 11 years earlier by his mother, a bar waitress played by Ann-Margret who firmly believes that homosexuality is an offense against God, man and nature. He may flirt with her often, but make it seem like it's playful and doesn't mean anything. Either way, they'll usually end up together, unless he's the main character and she has a lot of competition.
The idea is that Bob spends the entire time straddling the line between showing genuine romantic interest and being indifferent, which is incredibly aggravating for Alice and just gives her more and more doubts because Bob won't give any signals one way or the other. In a Girls Love series it is customary that at least one pairing is like this.
Often he'll ask her out on a date, and after she accepts reveal it's a group affair, even though the conversation beforehand hinted it might be intimate one on one time. The Unlucky Everydude will often act this way toward the members of his Unwanted Harem, especially if he's aiming to Marry Them All.
Many of them are bored with "homosexual" movies in which, no matter how good the intention, the inference is that homosexuality is a problem.
They want to see themselves as characters integrated into the most ordinary of situations.
"Our Sons," then, might be expected to leave the gay community reasonably pleased. They are fed up with seeing their very existences viewed primarily as "controversial." Even the occasionally more sensitive films use distancing ploys, exploring not the lives of homosexuals but the anguished fretting of their parents or friends.
The new attitude among homosexuals can be found distilled by Vito Russo in an afterward written for the revised edition (1987) of "The Celluloid Closet," his exhaustive and perceptive history of homosexuality in the movies: "Mainstream commercial films and made-for-television movies that have as their subject the allegedly controversial issue of my existence may be necessary evils but they're not for me.
Now, apparently succumbing to her maternal instincts, the mother arrives to effect a reconciliation, conceding that "it was a waste, all those years, but I couldn't help it." In the movie, Julie Andrews plays the sophisticated mother of James (Hugh Grant), who has been living with Donald (Zeljko Ivanek) for three years and is now tenderly seeing him through his final days.
This is a very carefully constructed and classy production, written by William Hanley ("The Kennedys of Massachusetts") and directed by John Erman ("An Early Frost").
That, after all, is how most lead their daily lives.
Meanwhile, television can simply decide, quite shamelessly, to keep certain aspects of the gay community invisible.
May require Alice asking "Did You Think I Can't Feel?