Red, White and Royal Blue has been playing on a loop on Ashley’s laptop for days. We watch parts of it before we go to bed most nights, smiling at the Tender Masculinity of Henry constantly on the verge of tears around Alex and groaning at the frustrating mistakes of a first-time film director ignoring basic rules of continuity. (This second thing is mostly Ashley- she knows how to spot these things; I just follow along and learn as we go.)
It is far from a perfect movie- but it is a sweet, honest, queer romance with a happy ending, and those are in short supply. I’m sitting here trying to remember the last hopeful queer movie that came out and the first thing that came to mind was Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and I don’t even know if that counts. Was it the oddly paced Kristen Stewart Lesbian Christmas Movie?
As I am someone who missed the golden age of Logo and its pantheon of low-budget gay movies available in the early 2000’s, my wife has been slowly introducing me to the characters that she loved as a teen. Soft, sweet stories of everyday heartbreak, each with an earnest desire to show queer love that transcends the quality of its production. The sixteen-year-old, closeted version of myself that still lives in my head devours each one she shows me with gusto. I know that there are still earnest, incredible filmmakers out in the world telling these stories any way they can, but it still seems like we haven’t made it past this one little corner of media, hoping that simply by word of mouth we can spread this idea that queer love is worth seeing.
So, when a massive studio like Amazon picks up a romance about the son of the American President falling in love with someone who is absolutely a stand-in for Prince Harry, it feels like that corner is expanding. Slower than it should, but it is reaching new people in new places. People who binge watch The Crown, or who were dedicated West Wing watchers, maybe it shows up in their feeds and the corner grows a little bit more. Maybe another movie gets made like this one, and there’s more queer joy in the world. It’s slow, and it’s not enough, but it’s something.