Gay Lost Boys?
February 14, 2006 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Is the character of Sam (Corey Haim) in the movie The Lost Boys supposed to be gay?

Someone mentioned this the other day -- Haim's character being gay. Was The Lost Boys director Joel Schumacher spelling this out for the viewer ("dreamy" Rob Lowe poster on Sam's bedroom wall, his wardrobe, etc.) without actually saying it? Has the director ever acknowledged this?
posted by jca to Media & Arts (46 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry to respond to your question with another question, but I'm curious as to what difference would it make? And if Sam was gay, why would the director have been saying-it-without-saying-it? If Sam's sexual orientation was important to the character or plot, then Shumacher would have just said it, right?
posted by tentacle at 12:02 PM on February 14, 2006

Not necessarily. I mean, wouldn't that be the mark of parity: to have gay characters exist without having to be a plot point?

As for the original question: While several gay friends of mine have held that he's OBVIOUSLY gay, and that this adds a layer of subtext to the movie, they also have a tendency to see the whole thing as intentionally homoerotic. While I don't argue that this isn't a valid interpretation, I have a hard time believing that Joel Shumacher could pull something like that off with the requisite deft touch.
Take it as you will, but while I've seen more than a few essays making that claim, I've never seen any extra-textual support for it.
posted by klangklangston at 12:08 PM on February 14, 2006

Response by poster: tentacle: Sorry to also respond to your question with a question -- does it bother you I'm asking?

No hidden agenda -- I'm just curious if this was something intentional, any story behind it, perspective from the director, etc.
posted by jca at 12:16 PM on February 14, 2006

klangklangston, you mention the layer of subtext that his being gay would add; I guess that's what I meant with my own question; ie, what is that extra layer that is added with knowing the character's orientation.

Also, I agree with your parity comment, but I didn't mean "if he was gay" being a plot point, but rather "his orientation per se." He isn't identifiably straight, either, after all.
posted by tentacle at 12:18 PM on February 14, 2006

jca, no it doesn't bother me that you're asking at all. I wasn't suspecting any hidden agendas or anything... I had just never heard of this debate. I loved the movie in middle school but haven't seen it in ages, so I was wondering about the context that I've missed. (Being a straight girl who had a mad crush on Corey Haim at the time, I would have been utterly oblivious to any homoeroticism in the film then, but would be interested to see it with new eyes now.)
posted by tentacle at 12:33 PM on February 14, 2006

I never considered him gayer than the rest of the movie, which is pretty gay (I'm talking subtext, not value judgment here). Almost as gay as his Batman movies.
posted by mkultra at 12:36 PM on February 14, 2006

Response by poster: Well, like you, I was much younger when I first saw the movie. I remember thinking it was strange, at the time, that Sam had a Rob Lowe poster -- especially Lowe in a half shirt -- on his bedroom closet door. I certainly wasn't picking up on the subtext at the time, so that's why I thought the question was interesting when someone reminded me of this recently.
posted by jca at 12:40 PM on February 14, 2006

This is actually a really interesting question. Schumacher, after all, is openly out. Back when he made Lost Boys, he actually had some talent enough to pull off something like this. Hollywood has a grand history of gay characters who aren't explicitly stated as such, going back to the twenties and before. Could it have been an homage to such times? I gotta ask my crit studies friends about this.
posted by incessant at 12:40 PM on February 14, 2006

I always just assumed he was gay. Between the Lowe poster and the scene where he's singing in the bathtub, I don't think there's any avoiding it.

"I ain't got a man, I ain't got a home, I'm a lonely girl!"
posted by brundlefly at 1:06 PM on February 14, 2006

I've seen the movie probably somewhere around 50 times, and never once stopped to think that the character was supposed to be gay.

He was a young kid in the film, barely just a teenager and obviously kind of a nerd. He had that silly puffy curl thing going on and those lame bandana headbands. I saw the poster as being more of a hero sort of thing, as someone hip he wanted to be like or imitate (Rob Lowe was really popular when this movie first came out). Like, "wow, that Rob Lowe sure is cool... I bet he gets all the chicks and I want to be just like him."

I realize that a lot of people start out getting interested in sex pretty young, but my perception of the character was that he was bit too young to really be thinking much about sex with either gender, and was much more interested in comic books than girls or boys or Rob Lowe's midriff.
posted by RoseovSharon at 1:16 PM on February 14, 2006

Response by poster: RoseovSharon, that is what interesting -- what we preceived of the character then/now, and what the director wanted us to think, or not think, etc.

I was hoping someone would know of a quote from the director discussing that direction for the character. The question is really more about what Schumacher may (or may not) have been trying to do with the character(s) in the film.

Also, Corey Haim would have been approximately 15 years old at the time of the film's release, so we can assume his character was roughly the same age. Certainly old enough to be interested in "girls or boys". ;)
posted by jca at 1:27 PM on February 14, 2006

""I ain't got a man, I ain't got a home, I'm a lonely girl!""

That's Clarence Frogmouth Brown. Who isn't gay (he can sing like a girl. He can sing like a frog).

Incessant: Was Shumacher out when he made Lost Boys? If not, that might be a stronger argument for Haim being crypto-homo. Though again, my gay pals say the whole thing is "SOOOOO GAY," with Haim only being arguably a bit more gay.
posted by klangklangston at 1:36 PM on February 14, 2006

klangklangston writes "That's Clarence Frogmouth Brown. Who isn't gay (he can sing like a girl. He can sing like a frog). "

I'm aware of that. Who wrote the lyric is neither here nor there. It's simply a very gay moment.
posted by brundlefly at 1:43 PM on February 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

We re-watched that movie several months ago, and none of us have seen it in a while, and we all picked up on the subtext, which got us talking about the movie being about developing adolescent sexuality more than vampires, and that just being part of it.

Anyway, I think he is pretty strongly coded to suggest that he may be gay without an explicit statement to that effect, leaving it ambiguous enough to satisfy people who wouldn't like that to be the case while providing fodder to over-tired literature / cultural studies students waxing nostalgic about the 80s (for some reason).
posted by synecdoche at 1:46 PM on February 14, 2006

If your only evidence that Sam was gay in this movie was a poster of Rob Lowe on the back of his bedroom door, you forget that Sam seemed to be at the mercy of his grandfather's decorating habits. Grandpa probably tacked that poster up for Sam, thinking he needed a "manlier" role model while living with a single mom.
And as much of grandpa's taxidermy wound up in Sam's closet, there just wasn't enough room for Sam! He *couldn't* have been gay.
posted by UnclePlayground at 1:49 PM on February 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

Wow, I saw that movie a couple years ago, but I never thought that. Also, didn't know Schumacher was gay.

I'm really curious to read those essays that klangklangston mentioned.
posted by Brainy at 2:37 PM on February 14, 2006

Heh. I can see if any of my pals saved 'em. They were undergrad-level text-crit stuff.
posted by klangklangston at 2:55 PM on February 14, 2006

Response by poster: Here is a non-answer from the two Coreys about said Rob Lowe poster.
posted by jca at 3:00 PM on February 14, 2006

Obvious question -- isn't there a DVD with commentary of any kind?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:14 PM on February 14, 2006

Interesting tidbit in jca's link: Richard Donner was originally slated to helm the the flick, and Shumacher came in later. I wonder if the gay thing was a contribution on his part, or if it was present in the Donner v. as welll.
posted by brundlefly at 3:18 PM on February 14, 2006

Response by poster: Also, I don't remember Sam's "Born to Shop" shirt, but it is often mentioned when trying to search for a quote from the director.
posted by jca at 3:25 PM on February 14, 2006

I noticed that the last time I saw the movie, too, and looked up various threads on the IMDB about it. Basic points people made (I'm pulling this out of my ass since the thread has aged off of the site): Rob Lowe was in St. Elmo's Fire, the movie Shumacher had just made and Corey was a 'born to shop' kid who'd think that Rob Lowe was cool (rather than hot, so to speak), like RoseovSharon said. I think this last point was supposed to have been mentioned on the DVD commentary.
posted by kimota at 3:31 PM on February 14, 2006

Immediately before making Lost Boys, Schumacher had been filming St Elmo's Fire which starred Rob Lowe
posted by blag at 3:34 PM on February 14, 2006

Aaah, preview. My bitter nemesis.
posted by blag at 3:35 PM on February 14, 2006

Wow. This thread reads like a scene from Clerks that ended up on the cutting room floor.
posted by sourwookie at 3:38 PM on February 14, 2006

I didn't think he was supposed to be any gayer than the rest of the movie, just young and silly. But the movie is really really gay. Fortunately for me, I was a teenager girl who loved some good homoerotic subtext. (Er, still am.)
posted by desuetude at 3:49 PM on February 14, 2006

You're still a teenager? :)
posted by brundlefly at 4:15 PM on February 14, 2006

Er, homo-lover, not teenager. Stupid fingers.
posted by desuetude at 4:22 PM on February 14, 2006

Jesus, that whole movie is like a homoerotic love fest. It's a freakin' vampire movie, afterall. And you're wondering if a Rob Lowe poster makes him gay?
posted by Nelson at 4:38 PM on February 14, 2006 [1 favorite]

From jca's link (a 2004 ComiCon Lost Boys panel transcript)-

Haim: Here is the second time I'm in the store. I really don't want to deal with them at this point. Not in my life. They're just freaking me. Feldman plays John Rambo with Stallone's voice mixed together...

Feldman: (Whispering) John Rambo is Stallone.

Wow, it's like the Coreys distilled.
posted by mkultra at 4:39 PM on February 14, 2006

Disclaimer: authorial intent is not all that important, art is a collaboration between artist and audience, as a viewer you should feel free to make Sam as gay or not gay as you please, &etc.

That said, I went to a screening and Q&A of this movie a few years ago at UC Santa Barbara. An audience member asked Schumacher if the general air of homoeroticism in the film was intentional on his part, and Schumacher basically replied "That would not be a wrong interpretation."

I don't think the questioner asked specifically about the character of Sam, but he might have mentioned him along with the other gayish qualities of the movie as a whole.
posted by lemuria at 5:12 PM on February 14, 2006

I don't know, I'm still not sold. I think that if you are looking for a gay subtext in anything, you'll eventually find it if you look and try hard enough. I never once got a "gay vibe" (whatever that is) from this movie, but then again, I wasn't looking for one.

I am curious though as a number of folks in this thread mention the "gay-ish" qualities of the movie. What are these qualities you consider to be giving off the air of gay? I took it at as a pretty straightforward (no pun intended) vampire/save the pretty girl romance sorta thing. Both the lead males were after the girl, the head vampire was after the mom, the grandpa was after the lonely widow... aside from the Rob Lowe poster in the boys bedroom, where else in all of this is the gay to be found?
posted by RoseovSharon at 6:55 PM on February 14, 2006

This will work both for and against a "corey is gay" reading [either closeted homophobe or genuinely disgusted], but his character was adamantly against his brother's super queer joining of the Gay Kiefer Vampires. I concur with others who say that it's just an adolescence thing; any gayness is overlaid by the Schumacher. Also, for those of us who were cognizant then, do you remember the '80s? Neon colors, boys with make-up, etc? Haim was pretty butch for those times, come on.

Other homo-gay references:
Alex Winter was lovely as the youngest, curly-haired vampire, and he followed up this performance with Haunted Summer as Lord Byron's opiate supplier and sometime lover, the clearly submissive Dr. John Polidori.
posted by ibeji at 7:18 PM on February 14, 2006

Response by poster: The poster in question (sorry I couldn't find a better/larger version):

RoseovSharon: There are plenty examples of "teh gay" as far as Sam's character is concerned -- and yes, you are right -- if you look hard enough you can find that sort of thing in many places. But that bit of logic cuts both ways, as in, if you are oblivious to it or choose to ignore it, you won't see it. ("Claymates" come to mind.)

Just to be clear, my original question was directed more along the lines of has the director actually acknowledged this or discussed it.

As I've already mentioned, my perception of it now is much different when I first saw it as a teenager.
posted by jca at 9:43 PM on February 14, 2006

Response by poster: Also, this movie/thread is starting to fall into a Quentin Tarantino "Gay Fighting Force" Top Gun monologue (from the movie "Sleep with Me") territory.
posted by jca at 9:48 PM on February 14, 2006

I gotta admit, that poster is even gayer than Wham.
posted by RoseovSharon at 9:58 PM on February 14, 2006

I can't remember. Was Sam's poster autographed? If it was, that's awesome.
posted by brundlefly at 10:20 PM on February 14, 2006

Funny, I'm gay, been out since I was 13. I saw no gayness suggested in Sam.

What I saw was a celebration of the final moments of pre-puberty. When imagination and reality can still be confused. Comic books can still take on a semblance of reality. The wold is still full of that quality we call 'wonder'.

As someone who came out very early, and whose life was horribly complicated thereby, I certainly can be nostalgic about those brief years. Perhaps the director felt that way, too.
posted by Goofyy at 1:33 AM on February 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm aware of that. Who wrote the lyric is neither here nor there. It's simply a very gay moment.
posted by brundlefly at 1:43 PM PST on February 14 [!]

Just a note that Shrevie, the only married guy in the bunch, sings the same song [Ain't Got No Home (MP3 via] in Diner although without the copious amount of soap suds. Or the imminent threat of vampires.
posted by blueberry at 2:03 AM on February 15, 2006

I never considered that the character could be gay. What I did always strongly suspect was that the character was meant to be younger than Corey Haim.

Remember when his older brother tells him to go take his bath? What 15 year old needs to be told by his older brother to go take his bath?
posted by poppo at 8:14 AM on February 15, 2006

Response by poster: What 15 year old needs to be told by his older brother to go take his bath?
The kind that are battling vampires, natch. :)
posted by jca at 8:45 AM on February 15, 2006

Wow, after seeing the poster in question, I'm so convinced the gayness was intentional; this is backed up by lemuria's Schumacher quote.

I really do like goofyy's mention of the film as "a celebration of the final moments of pre-puberty"; I think this is an important aspect that I'd forgotten about. This can be used in part to answer poppo's question about the bathing request. It's just indicative of Sam's ease in his role as silly younger brother protected by his older, infallible brother. This is why it's so devastating to him when his brother gets involved, first with a bad girl, and then with a gang of bad boys: both things threaten the brothers' previous comfortable co-existence.

And hey, did anyone bring up the *title* yet? The Lost Boys as in the story of Peter Pan, written by a gentleman into boys himself? No, he wasn't gay and yes, there's a huge difference between pedophilic and homosexual behavior. BUT, Peter Pan has a special place alongside Wizard of Oz et al in the gay mythology pantheon. When I had gay author Clive Barker sign my copy of Peter Pan a few years back, he said it was his favorite book as a child and inscribed it,
Have fun with the Lost Boys... True story.
posted by ibeji at 9:53 AM on February 15, 2006

Both the lead males were after the girl

It's been a while, but from what I remember, Kiefer was never "into" Jami Gertz's character, just exerting control over another clan member. He was WAY more interested in "converting" Jason Patric. The chemistry was all between the two of them- Jami Gertz may as well have sleepwalked her way through the movie.
posted by mkultra at 10:43 AM on February 15, 2006

I've seen the movie probably somewhere around 50 times, and never once stopped to think that the character was supposed to be gay.

Wow, I'm stunned by that - it had never, ever, ever occurred to me that anyone could watch The Lost Boys without immediately assuming the Sam character was gay, and that the entire film was unapologetically homoerotic, not to mention as camp as a Scout jamboree, from the title on down. I mean, it's not a subtle queer subtext we're talking about here, it's a queer text! As for the Rob Lowe poster - plain double-camp, in that it is such an obviously camp image that it mocks itself. (And I'm not just talking in undergrad. cultural studies terms here either - I remember seeing it when it first came out on video, aged 12 or 13, and being mocked by my friends for choosing such a 'poofy film'...)

All in the eye of the beholder, obviously, but wondering whether The Lost Boys is a queer film does seem a bit like wondering what kind of 'good time' the Village People were referring to in YMCA.
posted by jack_mo at 7:13 PM on February 15, 2006

Response by poster: does seem a bit like wondering what kind of 'good time' the Village People were referring to in YMCA.

And how many times has everyone from little old ladies to drunken frat boys felt compelled to "arm spell" in a Y-M-C-A sing-along, and be none the wiser ? :)
posted by jca at 7:57 PM on February 15, 2006

I think the film is gay gay gay, but I read Sam more like the way Goofyy does -- young enough to be just on the kid side of the "I should act cool" cusp.
posted by desuetude at 7:52 AM on February 16, 2006

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