LGBT Movies: Defying Gravity (1997)

A gay student was attacked and a frat is under investigation. A closeted frat boy will have to decide whether to support the victim or his bros. Some moral ambiguity would have been nice but Defying Gravity is not about nuance. There’s no justification for not talking to the police in private. We’re left waiting for him to get it together and do the right thing. Earnest amateur performances and a syrupy soundtrack provide some campy laughs.

Want to learn more? Then read my spoiler filled recap.

Act One: The Closet

DG Griff alone
Griff alone amidst the crowd.

Scene One: Frat House
GRIFF: Booze. Babes. Football!
NICE GUY: Having a girlfriend is great. You should start dating Griff!
GRIFF: I kinda am.
2 BROS: Dudes! We’re going out tonight!
GRIFF: Can’t join you man. I gotta study.

Scene Two: Gay Bar
GRIFF: Why’d you take me here!
BOYFRIEND: Because I want a real date.
GRIFF: We’re just f***buddies. This gay stuff isn’t me.
(Boyfriend and Griff leave in opposite directions. A car parks nearby. The passengers are playing loud music.)

Act Two: Hate Crime

DG The Truth
Griff learns the truth.

Scene Three: Frat House
DETECTIVE: A student was beaten into a coma last night behind a gay bar.
2 BROS: Hilarious.
GRIFF: What the f***?
DETECTIVE: Did anyone see anything?
2 BROS: Nope.
GRIFF: Nope.
(Griff mopes for 30 minutes.)

Scene Four: Hillside
NICE GUY: What’s wrong? Let me in bro! No homo.
GRIFF: Yes homo! Something has changed within me. Somehow, I’m not the same.
NICE GUY: Are you, like, in love with that guy you’re refusing to visit in the hospital?
GRIFF: Yeah. I’m an @$$hole. But he makes me feel like IIIIII am defyyyyyying gravity!
NICE GUY: Then do something about it. This movie’s gotten so boring.
(A car drives by playing loud music.)
GRIFF: Who the f*** is that?
NICE GUY: That’s a friend of the 2 Bros. They were out partying that night.
GRIFF: F***! It was them!
NICE GUY: Super convenient. We didn’t have to investigate or anything.

Act Three: Redemption

DG Redemption kiss
Redemption kiss in 3…2…

Scene Five: Frat House
GRIFF: YOU DID THIS! (Griff attacks the 2 bros.)
2 BROS: We were drunk! He was just a f*g! Straight white men shouldn’t have to face consequences for their actions!
(Police arrest the 2 Bros.)

Scene Six: Outside the Frat House
GRIFF: I’m moving out.
NICE GUY: Don’t go man! You’re my best platonic male friend! (They kiss. They hug.)
OTHER BROS: We support you and your boyfriend.
GRIFF: I’m sorry, who are you?
OTHER BROS: We were background extras in the other frat scenes. (They kiss. They shake hands.)

Scene Seven: Hospital
BOYFRIEND’S FATHER: He just woke up. You can see him. But don’t ever let him down again.
GRIFF: I brought your favorite boxers.
BOYFRIEND: Those aren’t my favorite. But thanks for coming. @$$hole.
(They kiss.)

THE END

Bro Bro Bro!

DG Poster
Friction in the frat-house?

There’s something ridiculous about the performative level of frat house culture on film. In the 90’s it was its own kind of drag. A 90’s frat house makes the perfect setting for a horror movie or a gay porn fantasy. Defying Gravity tries to balance out the “nice” bros and the cruel ones for maximum repBROsentation. Griff managed to make some actual friends there. He might even talk to them after graduation.

1997 was an interesting year for LGBT media. Indies were thriving. Ellen DeGeneres came out on her sitcom. Three of the highest grossing films that year featured openly gay characters: As Good as it Gets, The Full Monty and My Best Friend’s Wedding. Where does that leave a humble picture like Defying Gravity? For all its flaws I enjoyed the work. It had a heart and the campy fun of a decent After School Special. Writer and director John Keitel would move into editing, working on films like Latter Days, Kiss the Bride and the documentary Just Married.

Should Griff’s boyfriend forgive him? What are your favorite depictions of frat culture on film? Would you like to see more LGBT films in a college setting? For more reviews of LGBT+ Media click here.