The issue of coming out in Hollywood is one I've been fascinated about for years. It's amazing how little has changed in terms of the establishment and the way it treats it's gay and lesbian entertainers. There are still so many of the Rock Hudson-types and the James Dean-types who are forced to stay in the closet and pretend they're someone they're not, and that's an injustice I've spent the last couple of years fighting to change.
Let there be no doubt: things have gotten better. In the last year we've seen huge progress, including the coming out of several high-profile celebrities such as Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer (who both had big movies released right afterwards, which, of course, were both huge hits and were not in the least bit affected by the coming out of their star, despite the terrifying scenarios the establishment types have perpetuated for years).
That doesn't mean, however, that there isn't still work to be done. To the contrary, gay issues are still volatile politically and socially, and people are still killing themselves as a result. Until the day comes when the suicides cease and we have full equality both legally and culturally, we cannot stop. That's why I was proud yesterday to announce the launch of a new project I'm working on, a film project titled Disappear Here.
Now, of course, this project is far more than a political or social statement. To balance art with the activism component, we have one of most talented young up-and-coming directors in the business attached, as well as the cinematographer he collaborated with on the aesthetically stunning Joshua Tree: 1951, A Portrait of James Dean, which has spent the summer at film festivals such as Seattle, Frameline and OUTFEST.
We also have my father, Morgan Mason, involved, who was so confident about the potential of this film that he decided to attach himself after 20 years away from the producing realm. His last major film, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, won the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and helped to launch the modern independent film movement, so we know that with his support and wisdom we're in a very good position to see this film come to fruition in a way that's unique and significant to the film world.
I'm really looking forward to my acting role as well, as this will be my first leading role in a feature film. But in the end for me, it always comes back to the issues. As my hero, Sidney Poitier, once put it: "I use my work as a reflection of my values." And although I certainly don't want the movie to throw them in anyone's face, I do want the values of fairness and equality to shine through it, and hopefully make a lasting impact on the entertainment industry and in the country/world we live in.
I'm sure there are those of you reading this who are turned off by the idea of a movie that hits you over the head with its convictions. And to those of you who feel that way, I promise you: you don't have to worry. This movie will also be visually captivating and will have a narrative that will keep you on the edge of your seat (it's a neo-noir thriller, after all!).
There's something for everyone in this project, and that's why we decided to fund its initial development via Kickstarter, because Kickstarter is the perfect way to mobilize people behind a project they believe in and want to see come to fruition.
Kickstarter not only allows participants to be entertained when they see the final project, but they also know that they're part of a movement, a cause larger than themselves.
When you can both of those things, that's a pretty good combination- and one you don't get very often.
For more information on Disappear Here, visit the film's official Kickstarter page here.
Follow James Duke Mason on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jamesdukemason