Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Xavier Dolan

25-year-old openly-gay Montreal film maker Xavier Dolan (b. 1989), who has somehow managed to write and direct five well-received movies in as many years, won the Jury Prize at the Cannes* Film Festival for Mommy last weekend. Mommy tells the story of a single mother raising a violent and troubled teenage son. They receive unexpected help and friendship from their shy neighbor, a female schoolteacher on sabbatical who suffers from a crippling stutter.

*I have never before heard so many media folk mispronounce this city name as last weekend during the festival. It's close to "can" (as in a can of soup), tending toward "Ken," and there's a soft and subtle "nuh" at the end. KEN-uh. Sort of. Best just to go there and listen to the natives. Trust me.

The Québécois director, writer and actor Dolan said in his acceptance speech:

“The emotion that I feel in contemplating this mythic room is overwhelming. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude, standing before this jury. I’ve received so much love over the last week. We do this work to love and be loved, as revenge for our imaginary loves...People are entitled to their own tastes, and some will dislike what you do; some will dislike who you are. But together we can change the world. By touching people, making they laugh and cry, we can change minds and lives. Not only politicians but artists can change it. There are no limits to our ambition. Everything is possible for those who dream, dare, work and never give up.”

Canadian Xavier, who speaks flawless, unaccented English, has nevertheless worked exclusively within the genre of French-language cinema. He has been compared to Woody Allen (only younger, cuter and gay!), because both make character-driven films about relationships, and both act in their own movies. At age twenty (!), Dolan electrified the film world with I Killed My Mother (J'ai tué ma mère – 2009), a semi-autobiographical movie that he wrote, directed and starred in. The winner of dozens of awards, that film was about a young homosexual at odds with his mother.

Dolan’s Tom at the Farm (Tom à la ferme – 2013) dealt with a young gay man’s encounter with the family of his recently deceased lover; the parents were not aware that their son was gay, nor were they aware of Tom’s relationship with their son. Heartbeats (Les amours imaginaires – 2010) explored a love triangle in which a man and a woman have a relationship with the same man. Laurence Anyways (2012) chronicles a ten year span of a male-to-female transsexual's relationship with her female lover.

Xavier Dolan, who tops out at 5' 6½", celebrated his twenty-fifth birthday just two months ago. Trivia: the Quebec-specific French-language dubbed version of the animated series South Park features Dolan as the voice of Stan.

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