Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Only Love, After All

So I'm searching through a file yesterday, and I find a snippet originally published in "The Vancouver Sun," on Friday, December 18, 2009, with the following partial sentence underlined.  It's in reference to Ang Lee's 2005 motion picture "Brokeback Mountain":  "...Heath Ledger's heartbreaking performance as [Ennis Del Mar] a young man who discovers love in an unlikely package [p. D4.]"

Of course, as we all know, the package is another man, Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.  In the movie, Del Mar is married to a woman, Alma, and together they have a young daughter.  We can only assume Del Mar loved Alma at some point in his life, which led to marrying her (the natural course of events for young men, we're told, is to fall in love with a young woman).  But that may not be the case. Perhaps he discovered he never loved another human being until he met Twist, that summer of sheepherding up in the mountains of Wyoming.

Juxtapose that with a recent comment I received here on another post, from elevencats, in Estonia, including mention of a 2009 Brazilian film he recently watched called "From Beginning to End" (English translation).  According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), it's about "two brothers [who] develop a very close relationship as they're growing up in an idyllic and happy family.  When they are young adults their relationship becomes very intimate, romantic, and sexual."

Curious about the details of the movie, but having no access to it, I watched a few YouTube videos elevencats referred me to, and came away with, if not a complete understanding of what happens, at least an overview:  Two half-brothers grow up extremely fond of each other during childhood--sleeping together, arms innocently around each other, the older later defending his younger brother to their father during an argument, as though they are something more than siblings, even then.  Their bond becomes stronger as they grow older, which concerns the father, who tells their mother the two boys are abnormally close, emotionally and physically.

Finally, as young adults on their own, the two brothers share an apartment, and tentatively take their sibling relationship to the next level--moving their love for each other into physical intimacy.  In effect, they become a gay couple, their lives lived together in that context.

This got me thinking.  In light of the aforementioned line referring to "Brokeback Mountain," and the taboo subject of two half-brothers becoming adult lovers, the following questions played in my head: Do we have control over who we love, or does love direct us, giving us no choice but to follow?  And is the course of love ever wrong to the extent it must end?  (I hasten to add, this is not a discussion regarding heterosexual love, between two biologically-related people who have the physical ability to procreate. That's something else altogether, beyond the scope of this post.)

How many of us could imagine being told the love we have for another human being is wrong, unnatural, forbidden, and that it must end?  Assuming you're straight, what if someone said to you, the man or the woman you love with all your heart, mind, soul, and body is wrong, that you cannot love that person, that your love is forbidden, prohibited, for whatever reason?  What then?  Are your feelings for that person supposed to simply end?  

I've never believed real, true, meaningful love is ordinary or common or recurrent. Rather, I believe it's rare and precious and magical.  It's a shame to think not everyone experiences love of this nature during his lifetime, even though I'm certain that's the case.  Those who do might acknowledge it as a one time thing--a fateful meeting of two people, of whatever gender, at the right place, at the right time, and in the right headspace, to be open to the opportunity of love and the possibility of its transformative power.  In other words, although our birthright, love is a singular gift, one we cannot deny or ignore when it happens.

Do we always know, to use the quote above, what the "package" we fall madly and passionately and physically in love with will look like?  If you're a man, can you always say the package you fall in love with will be in the form of a woman? If you're a woman, can you always say the package you fall in love with will be in the form of a man?  Would you be surprised, even stunned, if you experienced strong and undeniable feelings of love for someone of the same sex?  

It happens.  Believe it or not, some people don't discover until their 50s, or even older, that the love of their lives is someone of the same gender, when they had no inkling whatsoever of that possibility.  Are they nothing more than latent homosexuals, having refused to succumb to earlier attractions to people of the same gender, because of familial, religious, or societal pressures?  Did they finally muster the courage to be their true selves, realizing time was running out, where they could no longer justify making someone else happy at the expense of their own happiness, and where they simply didn't give a damn anymore?

Or did love have the last laugh, arriving in a package different from anything they could have anticipated?

Excluding all that complicates it, from simple attraction to sex--which, of course, is impossible--can it be said love always finds where it belongs, where it's supposed to be, its rightful home?  Are we responsible, then, to accept, respect, and honor love, despite the form it takes, because we know to love is the only reason we're here, and because we should all be so lucky to experience it firsthand, regardless of its form?


  1. Interesting points you've made, Rick. I don't think any consensual relationship between adults should be criticized or condemned. After all, that is one of the reasons for accepting gay relationships. I guess social stigma helps to prevent intimate relationships between family members from occurring, which may avoid a lot of potential problems within the family. However, we need to be understanding of the fact that individuals cannot always control who they fall in love with! It is important not to judge others by our own personal preferences.

  2. Which is the whole point of this post, Doug. You've identified it exactly. Judgment is often brought against gay men (and women) for loving each other, but we have no more control over who we fall in love with than anyone else does. Love is one of those mysterious things none of us can really explain. Hence the reason why I call it magical.
    When I was a kid, I remember my mother talking about straight couples whom she thought were a little odd. For example, she find some men very handsome, yet they were with women whom she considered not at all attractive. Obviously, something must have been there for the couple to be together, something deeper than appearance that my mother had no knowledge of. Add mysterious to the nature of love, too.
    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Unfortunately, "Morality" is used to condem anything that isn't 'normal'. I throw quotes around the word morality because it's only moral when it's convenient to the condemer.

    While what people do is their business, nosy people can't seem to get enough of the 'oddity' of anything that isn't their own life.

    I could understand if it were an educational opportunity to ask questions to understand, but it's almost always to condem and to promote themselves to a higher moral level.

    Judgement is one of the gravest sins we as people can commit. It's in fact worse than murder. (omitting ethics and other obvious reasons to argue against the point, I speak biblically)

    Judging not lest ye be judged is one of the two that above all we must keep. It's strange how that goes out the window when it's time to sit on a high horse and look down on everyone else.


  4. What I truly liked about this movie was full acceptance from all parents. (They had the same mother but different fathers.) And the point was "Whatever they are feeling we CAN NOT make them feel like they are doing something wrong".
    This movie emphasized love and how a couple can grow together and last despite the hardships that life can bring. It was gender, etc. neutral. Just love between humans.

  5. @chaoticGRRL: I can't disagree with anything in your comment, Heather.

    Here's how I've come to look at other people's opinions or judgments of me: I don't care.

    I used to care. In fact, I cared a lot and allowed myself to be bothered by what other people thought, because I wanted everyone to like me, or I needed to belong, or I wanted validation of who I was and what I did.

    But, now, I just don't care. They can have their opinion; they can judge me all they like. I don't have to buy into it. I don't have to let it affect me. And it doesn't.

    The bottom line is, we'll always have people who judge us because we're gay. Oh, sad for them that they don't have anything better to do. I can't change their opinions. I can only change how I react to them, and, finally, FINALLY, I have enough control over myself that I have no reaction. I simply don't care.

    @elevencats: And that's what I got from the brief videos I saw of the movie.

    I'm curious to know how many of these relationship exist. I bet a lot, a lot more than we think. And, because no children will ever be produced, so what if they happen? As I say in my post, and you repeat, it's just love between human beings. Nothing more.

    Thank you to you both for your interest in my blog and for your comments. I really appreciate them.