“Freeheld” Screenwriter Says Movie Was “De-Gayed” By Producers

"The gay characters were idealized. Their edges were smoothed out. The conflict between them was softened."

Ron Nysawner, the screenwriter of the recent lesbian biopic Freeheld, says the film was “de-gayed” by producers afraid of offending straight audiences.

Freeheld
Lionsgate

In the film, Julianne Moore plays Laurel Hester, a police officer with terminal cancer fights to give her pension benefits to her domestic partner, played by Ellen Page.

Ron Nyswaner

Nyswaner, who also wrote the Oscar-nominated script for Philadelphia, spoke at the Vanguard Awards over the weekend.

One of my recent gay-themed projects had a lot of potential. But the producers became fearful. The gay characters were idealized. Their edges were smoothed out.

The conflict between them was softened. Over my vigorous objections, by the way, for the record.

God forbid, someone might think we were making a movie about a couple of dykes.

Out of fear, they were normalized. We must remember — and insist that others honor — our history and our very specific gay culture. We are the inheritors of a culture that was created from pain and invisibility. From being different.

Nyswaner said LGBT filmmakers “need to have the courage to insist that our gay characters are created within the fullness of their humanity with all their flaws, just like straight characters.”

He vowed to create work “that features LBGT characters who are fearless, powerful and scary motherfuckers.”

 

 

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery