I found a short video on Towleroad today, Man in the Mirror, in which it is said that a “closeted jock faces outing in Joel Schumacher’s short.” It is also on PBS.org.
Jason is an athlete, a high school senior, maybe seventeen years old, beautiful, a Puerto Rican, and the movie catches him just at that moment when he is asking, Am I gay? He asks, How can I be gay, if I am so masculine? He has a girl friend, college scouts are coming by “every day,” he appears to be the leader of his little group, he’s very “male.” His cousin from California is arriving today, there’s a big ball game coming up, his mother wants him around the house more. The movie is shot in small bedrooms, narrow school hallways, small locker rooms, illustrating how claustrophobic Jason’s life is, how few choices he has. The camera is right on top of the actors. We can’t ever get far enough away from them to get any perspective, which may be Jason’s problem. Major things happen to the young people because other young people are spying on them, peering through doorways, watching them in the hallways. Nobody seems to recognize any boundaries in this world. This is very effective in showing how difficult it is to come out in high school, how impossible to know how people will respond, how dangerous this world is. There is an out gay student, named Eric, and the way he is treated suggests the kind of danger Jason faces.
The screenplay for this film was written by a high school senior, Treviny Marie Colon, when she was a senior at The High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan. Ms Colon was introduced to a curriculum at the high school called “What’s the REAL DEAL about Masculinity,” part of which was a writing contest. This curriculum apparently came from Scenarios USA, which made it possible for Ms Colon to make the screenplay into a movie, directed by Joel Schumacher, the director of such movies as St Elmo’s Fire, Batman Forever, and A Time to Kill. Ms Colon said about her movie, “When people see Man in the Mirror, I hope they’ll step into the unknown, see what’s rarely talked about and understand exactly what’s at stake for a gay man of color in the closet.”
Man in the Mirror is not quite eighteen minutes long and worth your time for several reasons. It will remind you, as Ms Colon says, that it’s still hard for gay men of color, no matter what people are saying about other gay men. It’s also a warning not to be glib about “how things have changed” around coming out. I read about young people coming out at earlier and earlier ages and meeting with virtually universal acceptance, and this movie is a necessary corrective. The writer was in high school when she wrote this, which suggests she knows her subject. The difference between this story and my own high school experience was that Jason’s sister is prepared to be supportive, and his cousin also. There’s something else, though. Jason asks, in his big conversation with his sister about his feelings. “I don’t know what to think.” “I can’t feel that way.” “Can I be this?” So that doesn’t seem to have changed. A major obstacle to coming out is himself. He was not what he thought he was.