G.B.F. – An Accurate Depiction of the High School Experience

G.B.F., directed by Darren Stein, is a film depicting the teenage struggles of coming out as homosexual in high school. Tanner Daniels, a student at North Gateway High, was accidentally “out-ed” by his peers after he downloaded an app where you can find other homosexual people in your community. While Tanner had been content to fly under the radar, his life is turned upside-down as he suddenly becomes the latest fad that all of the girls want—the gay best friend.  The three Queen Bees of the school, Caprice, Shlee and Fawcett, all fight for Tanner’s friendship and to claim him as their GBF.

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This film gives an intersectional analysis of the high school experience, telling a story of love, friendship, struggles with peer pressure and the desire to be popular. G.B.F. is a high school film that is an accurate depiction of teenage life today, even if it is somewhat hyperbolized. Full of stereotypes, the movie is humorous with its witty lines bringing to light many false views that we have of the homosexual community: “So you’re a gay now”, “Are you going to audition for the spring musical?”, “Oh, that’s not gay”, “You’re not like the ones on Bravo…”, and my personal favourite: “When you’re getting gay with a guy, how do you decide who’s the girl and who’s the boy?”. Tanner comes back with “Not an expert, but I think you’re both the boy… That’s kind of the point”.

The main issue of the film arises when Tanner is not allowed to bring another male to prom as his date. Fawcett, a Queen Bee, decides that she will hold an alternative prom where Tanner can bring whomever he chooses. After winning Prom King, Tanner makes a speech where he finally lets his peers know his true feelings about his experience of being the only “out” homosexual at their school: “I don’t want to be King of a gay prom or be a gay best friend or get gay married. I just want to go to prom, be a friend, get married maybe. You all see me as an object or a symbol” (Stein 2014). Tanner paved the way for other students in his school to come out as homosexual, or any other sexuality or gender they chose. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. While they kept it light with all of the humour, the message is an important one. Society does treat homosexual people, or really those of any minority, as different. When we refer to someone as “a gay” or talk about homosexual marriage as just that instead of simply marriage, it becomes problematic. While we may not mean to, we are further embedding inequality into our society through the way that we treat and even talk about those who are different than us. To promote equality, we must change many things including the terminology we use. Tanner makes a good point in his speech after becoming Prom King. We shouldn’t refer to homosexual friends as our GBF. They are simply friends. Their sexuality should not influence our likelihood to befriend them.

My experience at the ReelOut Film Festival was immensely positive. Have you ever walked into an environment and just felt safe and accepted? This is exactly how I felt when I entered the Screening Room. I felt like those surrounding me would not judge me based on the way that I looked and dressed, my sexuality, my choice of makeup, etc. Sometimes I don’t feel this acceptance in my school community. It is almost as if all of my peers are striving to be better than me and do better than me. I feel constant judgement from not only my peers, but also my professors and TAs to act a certain way, dress a certain way, perform a certain way. At times, I don’t feel comfortable in my school environment and therefore don’t feel comfortable within myself. I wish that Queen’s had the same atmosphere that the ReelOut Film Festival did. In fact, I wish that all places felt like that. Fearing constant scrutiny from those surrounding you even as a straight white woman is not something that we should still be struggling with in 2014. 

 

Stein, Darren, dir. G.B.F.. School Pictures, 2013. Film.

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3 Comments

  1. I watched this film too and so I really enjoyed your interpretation of it. I agree with your arguments against the terminology society uses and that when “gay” or “homosexual” is tied to “marriage” or “best friend”, differentiation occurs constructing a binary where gay is on one end and normal is on the other. While Tanner’s experiences shaped him in ways to hate being labelled as “gay”, identifying him as an object or alien, I wonder if others had a less difficult time coming out and therefore don’t mind it at all. Do you think it’s possible that certain personalities would LOVE being called someone’s gay best friend? Maybe they enjoy the uniqueness of their identity and the insightful relationship they have with people. In the end it’s about personal preference and I believe Tanner’s story was important to be told for for teens dealing with similar issues as well as those who may not think they are affected, when this is an issue that involves everyone, from victims to victimizers to bystanders.

  2. I really agree with what you stated about the movie. I want to focus more on what you said about Queen’s and its community and atmosphere vs. that of the festival. I agree that being at the festival was a very comforting and accepting community, agreeing with your point I did not feel judged nor did I think I would be judged. I can see where the opposite feelings can come from when your in the Queen’s community, however I find that although Queen’s is no where close to the accepting feel of the festival, we are pretty far in acceptance compared to other schools. Queen’s has a long way to go to reach the comfort level as the festival did and I really hope it will get there, but I find that we are a more progressive and modern student body and it will not take long before bigger strides of acceptance will come.

  3. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the show and the environment, because I felt the same! I agree with you on the point that the society does not accept and view homosexuals normally as we view straight people. Gay marriage, I totally agree with you, when everything involves the word ‘gay’, I think the most members of the society think negative. It was really interesting to see how we have standards also for homosexuals on how they should look like and behave like. I thought this movie was a very light and adorable movie that could be watched and accepted by anyone and everyone! I’m glad you felt the acceptance in the Screening Room, and I was feeling exactly the same. I felt mysteriously safe and accepted by everyone. I’m glad to hear that your experience was also a positive one!

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