A compelling new film is in the works that takes a look at two very different types of queer experience.
"JOHNNY" is the story of a young male prostitute hired for the night by a conflicted older man who has spent his life running from his sexuality. As the film's Indiegogo campaign notes, "JOHNNY" is the story about finding the inner strength to take ownership and responsibility over the person one has become.
"JOHNNY" takes an honest look at two different experiences of queerness oftentimes not portrayed in the mainstream.
The Huffington Post chatted with writer and star of "JOHNNY," Brandon Crowder, this week about his vision for the film and what he hopes viewers take away from it.
The Huffington Post: What are you trying to communicate with this project about being queer in the modern day?
Brandon Crowder: "JOHNNY" is a story about two men finally coming face-to-face with difficult truths about themselves that they’ve been too afraid to confront. As a gay man, I can absolutely understand the desire to hide myself from the world out of fear of being rejected. Navigating life as a queer individual can be an isolating existence, and it’s easy to feel as though no one else could possibly understand the struggles you are facing.
What I hope to communicate in telling the story of "JOHNNY" is that being queer is not a singular journey -- you are not alone in the things you feel and the struggles you face. Finding the strength and the courage to finally become the person you really want to be can be a difficult process. It means letting go of the things that are holding you back, and giving yourself permission to build a life that will truly make you happy. It’s a risk; and it is scary. But it’s a risk worth taking.
Why is this film important?
We live in an exciting time for LGBT stories being depicted on film, and great strides have been made in the prevalence of LGBT characters represented in mainstream media. Film in particular has an incredible ability to give an audience the opportunity to experience life from a perspective outside of their own reality. I want to share LGBTQ stories like "JOHNNY" in the hopes that I can contribute to a more nuanced and inclusive understanding of the complexity of the human experience.
"JOHNNY" is story about acceptance, which can be a very difficult process, particularly for individuals who are struggling with their sexual identity. My hope is that viewers will be able to find solidarity with these characters, and perhaps even find the support they need to move forward in their own story -- and be able to let go of the things that have been holding them back.
What are you trying to communicate about how age affects our experiences within the queer community? Why is this important?
What interests me most about the characters in "JOHNNY" is that even though they come from very different walks of life, they are still facing similar struggles with being able to accept certain things about themselves. In telling this story, I want to explore the commonalities that can be found in how we internalize our feelings of guilt and shame, and how those feelings can affect the people we become.
The characters in the film are from two different generations, and they have taken very different paths on their journeys toward self-acceptance. Yet they both still find themselves having a similarly difficult time coming to terms with who they are. What’s important to me about this is the realization that we all face struggle and, regardless of where you may be in the timeline of your life, it’s never too late to give yourself permission to become the person you would like to be.
What do you hope viewers take away from this film?
In telling the story of "JOHNNY," I hope to give viewers an opportunity to share a moment in time with two people who are having a difficult time coming to terms with who they are and what they want from life. I hope these characters can be recognizable to someone else who may also be having difficulty accepting themselves.
I think that art can be a great tool for starting conversation. And I hope to encourage viewers to engage in an open and honest dialogue about the ways in which we internalize our feelings toward homosexuality and about the power those feelings can have in limiting the amount of happiness we allow ourselves to enjoy.
Head here to check out the Indiegogo campaign for "JOHNNY."