"Homeboy" is yet another contemporary documentary that is exploring LGBT life far afield from the comfort zones of well-known, affluent gayborhoods in our big cities.
Compton and East Los Angeles may be only several miles from Silverlake, Hancock Park, West Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills, but they might as well as on the other side of the moon. The residents of these two very different worlds only intersect when there is civil disorder (e.g., the Rodney King riots); or a car accident (v. the movie "Crash").
Otherwise, the generally well-off residents of the West Side of Los Angeles have absolutely nothing to do with the residents of the barrios. I remember one visit to L.A. when I asked my hosts if we could go to East Los Angeles to sample some real Mexican food and they reacted as though I had asked them if we wanted to take a trip to Downtown Baghdad.
So "Homeboy" should come as a revelation, to Angelenos who have little understanding of the pressures of growing up in these very rough areas, or to anyone who wants to understand the difficulties of life as a gay man in a world where "mar icons" (Spanish for "faggot") are considered only good for target practice.
Director Dino Dinco and his crew are to be congratulated for finding the handful of men brave enough to tell their stories and for taking the time and the care to record them.
Unfortunately, good intentions aren’t always enough. While "Homeboy" should be seen by anyone curious about the subject, for the general public, the film is too undernourished to sustain interest.
The talking heads who were willing to provide interviews are, again, all brave, but I didn’t find their stories different enough to warrant the long on-film time each one got to relay his story. Also, while I certainly don’t fault them for this, they are not particularly pithy in the way they relate anecdotes, which leads to seem real draggy moments.
It is inspiring to see how these men, either dragged into gangs by friends or relatives or lured in by the promise of instant kinship, managed to realize their sexual identity, act on it, and get themselves clean of drugs, guns and gang associations.
I only wish there had been more context -- news clips perhaps, and certainly at least one academic talking head who has some knowledge of L.A. gang culture -- to put it all into a larger context.
This article is part of our "Qfilms 2013" series. Want to read more?
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