Tennessee Queer follows the story of Jason Potts, an out and proud southern boy, who returns to his hometown, Smythe, Tennessee, as an adult and starts a movement that opens the eyes of the townspeople to the facts: whether they like it or not, there are queers who are here, so they had better get used to it. Filmed entirely in Tennessee with an all-local case, Tennessee Queer is a must see for local LGBT audiences.

The movie opens with a look at the boys' locker room’s "Smear the Queer" wall, where the name of a potential "gay," as well as a place and time to beat him up, was written down. Now I had never heard of the practice of "smear the queer." I had to research it to realize that it was an actual thing. Having recently been a high school student, I shouldn’t have doubted that high school could be home to such a soul-crushing practice.

Jason Potts, now grown up and living a happy life in New York City and trying to forget about Smythe, where he had once found his own place on the “Smear the Queer” wall. Potts is lured back to this little, southern town by his family, who fakes an intervention for his alcoholic brother to convince him to move back and get closer to his family.

He tries to convince his family that Smythe is not a gay-friendly town by suggesting the town council hold Smythe’s very own pride parade. His plan unravels as his suggestion is accepted, and he charged with organizing the entire thing. However, on top of the duo of the preacher and the mayoral candidate trying to ruin everything, Potts has to find a way to tell his crazy mom that he actually intends on moving to London, England.

This movie has the perfect recipe for a LGBT movie to remember: it has the humor, the message, and an angry preacher hell bent on "curing" the homosexual problem. There is even a mayoral candidate so set in his ways that even if God himself came down and said "Being gay is okay with me," he still wouldn't believe it, a dysfunctional family that sees its one gay son as the least of its problems, and a gay treatment camp video that will crack you up. Also if you have ever wondered what the most awkward striptease looks like, this movie will show you that too!

The movie had me laughing and crying at times. But the big thing I took away from this movie was that the way toward progress involves making LGBT normal, or, better yet, redefining normal as the freedom to be one’s self. Jason Potts wanted Smythe to stop being stuck in the past and to realize that things are changing and that change isn’t a bad thing. Tennessee Queer does an outstanding job of questioning the stereotype of small southern towns filled with ignorant, change hating hillbillies by showing the audience how truly good small-town people can be.

 

See also:

Tennesee Proud: Memphis native wrote and produced Tennessee Queer

 

 

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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