Ever been a "beard" or a "Katie Holmes" as its called in the "Tru Loved" trailer? I'm referring to acting as the girlfriend of a secretly gay man who wants to appear straight. That's the relationship between teenagers, Tru (Najarra Townsend) and Lodell (Matthew Thompson). She's the new girl at school with two moms AND two dads and he's the star football player who isn't ready to admit to anyone he's gay, including himself.
Tru's lesbian moms (Alexandra Paul and Cynda Williams) are happy she's acquired a new boyfriend. But when they meet Lodell for the first time, their "gay-dar" sounds a silent alarm. Clueless, Tru believes he's just a little shy until her two gay dads share their insight. But when she confronts Lodell about it, he's angrily denies he's gay but then later confides with her his secret.
Playing Lodell's "beard" prompts Tru to then begin a gay-straight alliance at their school. And that's when she meets, Trevor, a guy who is genuinely attracted her and she feels the same. But how will she juggle two boyfriends? And how will breaking up with Lodell affect his precious image and their friendship? If his friends, mother (Jasmine Guy) and grandmother (Nichelle Nichols) discovered the truth he'd be devastated.
Written and directed by Steward Wade, "Tru Loved" plays out like a PG-13 after school special. But considering the subject matter and the audience to which it appeals most that may not be a bad thing. In fact, it's intentional. "Tru Loved" is said to be a family film--a gay family film.
How can a gay themed film be for a family? Here's my answer: "Tru Loved" is far from "Queer As Folk" or the "L Word". There's no soft nor hard core sex scenes, no offensive language, nor are same sex couples kissing every minute as if trying to force the issue. The film handles the topics of race and homosexuality honestly, and if anything is a good vehicle for relevant conversations amongst school administrators, students, and parents.
My only complaints are with the appearance of the leading man and the tidy ending. Having a few dear gay male friends I feel I can say this, and this is a cultural thing. Gay men are known to be vain especially concerning their appearance, so why was Lodell's hair such a mess? True, cornrows are a popular style amongst African American young men, but there comes a time when they must be done again to appear neat and stylish. What Lodell was sporting was neither.
And lastly, the ending wrapped up too neatly. But don't all after school specials? Probably, but even in a movie it's hard for me to believe that one ignorant adult followed by rude teenagers would be allowed to bust up a private wedding ceremony on private property without somebody flipping their wig or asking, "What the hell is going on?"
Otherwise, "Tru Loved" was enjoyable. I especially liked seeing blast from the past, Nichelle Nichols, as Lodell's grandmother. She humorously spoke her mind as most elders feel they have a right to do. Also, I would have liked to have seen more scenes of her and Jasmine Guy, as Lodell's mom. A poignant scene or two between mother and son could have provided some real thought-provoking dialogue concerning African-American culture and homosexuality. Lastly, anytime Bruce Vilanch enters a scene you're sure to get a laugh, and of course he steals every one he's in. He portrays the gay uncle of Trevor in the film.
Although Jasmine Guy's character wasn't very vocal in the film on the issue of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) teens, I did find this interesting clip of Guy on YouTube concerning the issue.
Visit www.truloved.com to learn more about the film and its outreach.