Let’s clear this up right away: this is not an essay defending or negating homosexuality. I’m not writing this because I WISH Chiron was not a homosexual or have a problem with that. I’m writing what I perceive due to the events that took place during the movie Moonlight.
Before Moonlight gained the reputation as being the “almost Best Picture loser,” it had the reputation as being one of the best movies to be released in 2016. Most film critics were swept away by the three-act story of Chiron through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, dealing with people in his life that disappointed or influenced him, and realizing his homosexuality.
However, this last detail is one that is quite puzzling.
I recall leaving the theater the first time I watched it and thinking back to one particular instance of dialogue. It comes towards the end of the film when Chiron meets up with his old friend, the only one he ever has had, and talking about their certain “experience” on the beach.
That experience, depicted in the adolescence section of the film, involves Chiron and his friend, Kevin, on a beach… together… alone… at night. You get what I’m insinuating.
Throughout the film, Chiron must deal with people’s perceptions of him as a homosexuality. I remember film critic Alonso Duralde mentioning how one of the themes of the film is how sometimes your peers can tell you are gay before you even know it yourself.
[I’ve linked the entire What the Flick?! Review here]
In fact, there is a part early in the film where Chiron and his unexpected mentor, Juan, chat about what the term “faggot” means:
Chiron (Little): What’s a faggot?
Juan: A faggot… is a word used to make gay people bad.
Little: Am I a faggot?
Juan: No. You’re not a faggot. You can be gay, but you don’t have to let nobody call you a faggot.
That last statement, to the layperson, may seem like just a generic statement about how one should always defend themselves and let no person talk down to them. But it really plays a part in the grand scope of the film and reflects the statement Duralde made.
The only problem with Chiron being a gay character, though, is that the experience he had with Kevin was his only experience with any person of any gender or sexuality.
Is it unheard of that someone who had a straight experience at their adolescence realized it wasn’t for them? Is it unheard of that the effeminate dude you knew in high school ended up getting with more girl than you ever dreamed of?
Insensitive, beast-minded questions? Of course! But what I’m trying to get to is this question: does one sexual experience define you sexual identity for the rest of your life?
That is the position Chiron finds himself in during adulthood. He confronts Kevin, stating that he hasn’t had another experience with anybody since then.
So how can we say with confidence that Chiron is homosexual?
Gay people often state that homosexuality is not a choice, you’re born with it. So Chiron probably knows he is a homosexual. And considering the path he chose for himself in adulthood, career-wise, being a homosexual may not fly over so well.
But, then again, Juan’s statements would certainly point to Chiron not giving a damn what other people think of him or his sexuality. Chiron is what he is and if anybody calls in a “faggot” they will have blood to pay, especially considering how Chiron took a chair to the head of the only person in the movie that called him a faggot.
But it wouldn’t be farfetched to assume that Chiron could sleep with a girl and realize he was wrong about his sexuality. In fact, we could say that Chiron’s lack of a sex life since Kevin may be attributed to the fact that he wasn’t sexually attracted to Kevin, but perhaps he just had a such a deep caring for his friend and the moment they had on the beach that night that he just doesn’t want to tarnish the memory with meaningless sex.
Director Barry Jenkins, in an interview with Deadline.com, commented that the scene where Chiron and Kevin sit at a table across from each other at the diner that ““The romanticism comes back [to Chiron].” This lends itself to defense of the pure memory of Kevin and Chiron.
Kevin, in particular, never brings it up. He does, however, bring up how he does have a significant other and we have seen him before flirting with other girls. Who is to say why he indulged that night at the beach. We all experiment with our sexuality one way or another, so maybe that was it.
Chiron remains an enigma. He left me sitting here with so many questions about him let unanswered. Question about his sexuality; questions about what happened in the gaps of the movie; questions about what could have been.
I enjoy a film that leaves me wanting to no more about the central character, so long as it doesn’t hurt the story. Roger Ebert wrote of the film Lost In Translation that people often tell him they didn’t get the movie because it is just about two people. Moonlight is only about one, but damn if it isn’t one of the most interesting characters we have seen on screen as of late, homosexual or misinformed.
Tags: Alonso duralde, barry jenkins, best movies 2016, best picture winner, Chiron, Chiron moonlight, deadline.com, featured, homosexual characters, homosexual films, lost in translation, moonlight, movie essays, movie reviews, personal thoughts, roger ebert, thoughts on film