YOU SHOULD SEE THE NORMAL HEART

YOU SHOULD SEE THE NORMAL HEART

This is like my first serious piece ever, and the first piece I’m writing for Kito Diaries, and let me be the first to state, I am not a writer by any sense of the word. I usually say, I can tell you better verbally than I can put it down on paper. But that’s by the way.

The other day, I visited a friend and it so happened that there was this gay movie on his laptop titled “The Normal Heart” from 2014. Given that I am what you may refer to as a movie buff, I questioned why I was just hearing of it. Soon however, we began watching the movie together. After 2 hours, 12 minutes and thirty eight seconds – the length of the movie – I was teary-eyed, shaking my head while repeatedly exclaiming OMG!!!

What an eye-opener.

Let me offer a brief breakdown of what The Normal Heart is about, for those who haven’t seen it.

The movie starts off quite NSFW. Tons of gay men with attractive bodies, jockstraps, full frontal nudity, an orgy by the bush, bubble butts by the pool, beautiful beach house in Fire Island circa 1981. I was already sold on it at this point, presuming there would be even more eye candies to come. But no. The story changed almost immediately and the next phase of the movie took me on an emotional albeit learning experience I certainly never imagined.

Lead character, Ned Weeks, played by Mark Ruffalo, visits Fire Island for his friend’s birthday party, when the celebrant abruptly gets this incessant coughing fit that brings him to his knees. His friends all scatter around to his aid, but he assures them he is fine. Later that night, the same friend can’t control his coughs after blowing out his birthday candle.

On a ferry back to from Fire Island, Ned spots a disturbing headline in a newspaper that reads: Rare Cancer Is Diagnosed In 41 Homosexuals. From here on, the movies takes you on a journey of Ned and his other fellow activists’ thwarted struggles to bring to light the emergence of this unknown disease that was slowly but surely killing off gay men in America. Their fight centered majorly on the media and the government, who were vehemently resisting the responsibility to grant them audience/coverage on ways to fund a research to bring about a possible cure, primarily because it was a gay man’s virus and not affected by heterosexuals…yet. Wards, housing those already infected by the virus and who were being treated without hope of making it, were tagged “GRID” (Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disease).

Can you imagine?

Another big proponent figure in the fight alongside Ned is a wheelchair-bound female MD called Dr. Emma Brookner, played by the lovely Julia Roberts, who had first discovered that the cancer was developing only in gay men. She fights with everything she has in her to start up a research by the relevant body. One of the high points for me during the film was when she sent all her research works flying to the ground in fit of frustrated anger while attempting to convince some government officials on the need to make haste for a cure while there was still time, citing that women had been discovered to have it in Africa, meaning it is not exclusive to homosexual men. But the men do not bulge. “…you all are idiots!” she yells as she ends her rant, before wheeling herself out of the auditorium.

Ned’s older brother, a hotshot New York lawyer, would not give his full support to Ned’s cause. We get to learn their relationship has been riddled with tension because of Ned’s sexuality. He finds it sick to comprehend how his brother can love a fellow man, thus always projecting that they were never equal.

Well into the movie, as the disease spreads, with lovers dying together and singly, and infected ones still managing to make it to the nightclub with visible skin rashes and ailing appearances, the government still does not give a hoot.

Ned’s lover, Felix Turner, a writer for the New York Times who was played by the very cute Matt Boner, reveals he is also infected. Luckily he does not infect Ned, who stands by him, literally to the point of cleaning up after him when he poops on the mattress. Felix, in despair, begs God for just one more year. The lovers eventually get married on Felix’s deathbed, a union that is officiated by Dr. Emma and witnessed by Ned’s brother, who at this point wishes he understood long ago what he now knows regarding his brother’s life. It was like watching one of the greatest love stories in a heartbreaking sequence.

It eventually takes the government five years to finally look into this menace and make HIV/AIDS a priority!

In closing, this movie reopened deep wounds I thought I had healed myself from after all this time. One of my best friends passed way from AIDS a few years back and that tragedy changed my outlook on a lot of things gay related, especially with my generation and the seriousness with which we conduct ourselves sexually.

Films like The Normal Heart speak volumes and poignantly educate and remind us of how much fight was put in, just so we can be considered an accepted and respected minority. Heck, over three decades later, that fight is still going on, especially in this part of the word. We may not directly be frontrunners in this battle, but indirectly we all play a role one way or the other by the path with which we continue to navigate our lifestyles. The menace of HIV/AIDS in the LGBT Community cannot be overemphasized. Proactive steps to protect ourselves abound. Condoms continue to be very effective in prevention; they cost little to nothing, and if you say you can’t afford them, you should not be having sex in the first place. And for those who criticize condoms as not being as pleasurable as the real thing, I’d say continue to welcome it with an open anus and a raw dick. The disease has no discrimination when house hunting.

USE A DAMN CONDOM, GODDAMNIT!

For those already infected, a You-Should-Have-Known-Better lecture at this point won’t do any good really. Shit happens. Protect yourselves still. Be judicious with your ARVs. Thank God for that.

For me personally, The Normal Heart left me with a burning desire to want to go out and talk more about these challenges.

Thanks to Larry Kramer (Writer), Ryan Murphy (Director) and HBO (Distributor) for this historically educative and stimulating piece. It’s a must watch, and after you do, spread the Word!

Written by Sucrescalada

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18 Comments

  1. Law
    October 11, 07:39 Reply

    When I watched this film last year… I cried till my eyes where swollen…. There is alot of messages frok this movie.. Historically, it reminds of d gay stuggle… I mean the REAL struggle…. Its amust watch for all

  2. Mandy
    October 11, 07:52 Reply

    This is one of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen. Incorporated a lot of everything that is the struggle of the gay man: HIV, gay liberation, gay rights, homophobia… And the performances of the actors, goddamnit! Flawless. Too bad it was a TV movie and hence, Emmys worthy. The movie looked like an Oscar worthy film.
    These men in the film are those we should all emulate in our fight to be free to be true to ourselves.

  3. doe eyed monster
    October 11, 07:55 Reply

    Yep.. .it basically described the history of AIDS which was originally called GRID cause it was only observed amongst gay men first… Let’s thank God for progress.

    When I was to do my first HIV test, I started talking to people.. .mostly straight folks and asking how they would react if I tell them I have been positive all the while we were together.. You should have heard the answers.. .they initially recoil then start professing love.. .

    This Nigeria Ehn, the stigma.. And to think Yoruba now make it worse by calling it “the disease without a cure” and everyone thinks it’s only through sex one can get it.

    Even the guy at the HIV clinic started with “guy.. .we are both guys.. .we know what we do.. Always use a condom.. .if you don’t have a condom.. .jerk off.. .better to be safe…these girls Ehn. ” and I was just there like “uncle, I am a virgin oo (am I not? …?)

    • Pink Panther
      October 11, 07:57 Reply

      The narrative is now predominantly that HIV is gotten from sex. I don’t know if that’s a healthy narrative.

      • doe eyed monster
        October 11, 08:46 Reply

        It can’t be healthy na… One loses focus on those small things that can cause HIV, even tiny blade.. .and thinks it’s only sex that exposes him or her.. .forgetting that a high percentage of people are positive and don’t know. So they keep getting careless with personal effects.

        There was a case in the news some years ago where a family went for medical checkups only to find their two boys positive and the parents were negative.. .only to discover the housemaid was positive and was sharing their toothbrush.(with all the sores in the mouth) .

        If those boys were adults now, everyone would give them a side eye that they had it through sex.. .which can be very misleading.

        The thing is, until it hits home, or somewhere close to home, no one wants to know or even talk about it.

        • Francis
          October 11, 14:11 Reply

          Na so I enter barbing salon one day see one of my patients using their clippers and this salon no get obvious sterilizing kit. Thank God he’s one of those that don’t play with his meds and his viral load is great

        • Francis
          October 11, 14:18 Reply

          HIV from sharing toothbrush?! I wonder how possible that one is. Sounds better than the two boys were nacking the maid

  4. lonz
    October 11, 07:57 Reply

    If you want to know in depths and details. Read the book “and the band played on” by randy shilts. After that you would see how evil the government was and why ronald regan was a monster

  5. sucrescalada
    October 11, 09:10 Reply

    My narrative was and is based on the movie and how it affected me personally and yes! 70 percent of gay men living with HIV, contacted the virus via Sex

  6. Delle
    October 11, 09:25 Reply

    I’ve given up on watching gay movies after the horrible aftermath I had when I saw Stonewall (hello PP). It automatically sends me to an abyss of depression. I don’t know why.
    Should prolly see a therapist.

  7. Mister Em
    October 11, 10:13 Reply

    Please Ooh. How can I get this movie ooh. I av find it tire online. This one and stonewall. I don’t mind crying

  8. Jide
    October 11, 11:14 Reply

    I remember when I saw the movie last year, I was recommending it to everybody I knew.

  9. ambivalentone
    October 11, 15:15 Reply

    Never liked gay-themed movies. The ones I saw had the ‘I am looking for love’ story-lines too reminiscent of Africa Magic. This looks like it has depth. Queued for download.

  10. INDIGENE
    October 12, 10:00 Reply

    OK I need to see this movie… Even stonewall! … where do I find them?

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