The film ‘Adam:’ LGBTQ-friendly or not friendly?
You’d think that with a film like “Adam” with its transgender director and LGBTQ cast, the LGBTQ community would be happy for another movie that promotes LGBTQ representation.
However, a small storm is brewing over this movie with some members of the community calling for its boycott and its defenders– including director Rhys Ernst– urging that viewers give it a chance.
The movie features Nicholas Alexander as titular Adam, a straight high-school teenager mistaken for a transgender man by a young lesbian, Gillian, played by Bobbi Menuez.
Because Adam is attracted to Gillian, he keeps silent about his cisgender identity, which leads him to learn about LGBTQ culture.
‘Adam,’ the book and the movie
The source of the trouble is the 2014 novel with the same name by out-lesbian writer Ariel Schrag, which had also drawn its own share of controversy in its time.
Both the book and film share at its core the story of a cisgender, straight teenager who visits his sister and her LGBTQ friends in Bushwick, New York and pretends to be transgender so that he could date a lesbian.
In response to the criticism against her book, Schrag told Diva in an interview: “Some people have responded with outrage to the novel’s premise and have told people not to read it, even though they themselves haven’t read it. This is frustrating.”
Tom Léger wrote in a 2015 Tumblr review about the novel: “This is a strange, hurtful, and bizarre vision of the world and it is a profound and confounding misunderstanding of the relationship of power between cis men (her protagonist) and trans men (his alter ego).”
In another Tumblr post this July, India Hendrie linked to Léger’s post and said the story was “the most disgustingly transphobic and lesbophobic narrative I’ve ever come across.”
Hendrie further said the film adaptation should boycotted, a call that has been widely shared on Twitter.
In defense of ‘Adam,’ the movie
In defense of the film, its director, Rhys Ernst, said that there is a “war on nuance” occurring in the world of LGBTQ filmmaking because of the present political climate.
During a screening at the Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, Ernst said of the script: “I really saw this as an incredibly powerful Trojan horse, upside down, really refreshing story in my mind.”
“I knew it would be challenging work, at least at face value, to come out in 2019. But I kind of am pushing back on that– that trans filmmakers or queer filmmakers have to do safe work,” Ernst said.
The director also said in an interview with Vulture that there is a “cloud of misinformation” about what’s depicted in the film.
“As a trans person, I know our concerns are often ignored by those with greater privilege, so it is important to me to share the work that we did on the project and to claim it as a trans story,” Ernst said on Twitter.
A number of early reviews from Film Inquiry, Hollywood Reporter, and Variety have already come out praising the movie, which is Ernst’s first feature film.
Criticism against ‘Adam,’ the movie
Currently, there are two separate petitions calling for the film not to be released with around 7,000 signatures. There is also a hashtag #BoycottAdam” circulating on social media.
The film has been called “transphobic,” “presents an offensive, twisted, and hurtful view on the trans community,” and “puts down lesbian and trans culture.”
However, given that the film has not yet been released in theaters, it’s likely that most of those who have signed the petition have not yet seen the film.
There are also reports that the film’s own cast of trans and other queer actors are not happy with what happened during the production.
These range from the LGBTQ actors not being given a script of the film, to not being told what the movie was about. Supposedly this was because they were not told of the true source of the film.
Likewise, the LGBTQ actors were constantly msigendered by the crew, with most of the transgender men identified and cast as “butch lesbians.”
With all these things in mind, what do you think? Will you watch the movie or not?
Here’s the trailer of the film for your reference: