Flicking the Skittle with El McCarthy – 4th Man Out, a movie review

4th Man Out: A Feel-Good, Gay Buddy Comedy

Finding (good) LGBT media that doesn’t end in pain or misery can be exhausting ‒ heck, even finding something with an LGBT character is a challenge in and of itself some days. Gay characters (romantic interests or otherwise) tend to drop like flies. Bisexual women are often shoved into the “I’m just having fun until I can ~settle down with a man~ like I’m ~supposed to~” category (and don’t even get me started on the subject of bisexual men). The “Gay & Lesbian” section on Netflix tends, as well, to be a big hit or a miss.

Fortunately, I watched a movie the other weekend, and it turned out to be a big hit for me. 4th Man Out is, as you may have guessed, a coming out film. Adam, our protagonist, lives in a small, conservative town ‒ and I don’t need to tell you why that fact in and of itself is terrifying for someone who doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter sexuality/romantic/gender norms. The basic gist of the plot is: Adam comes out to his three friends, who are, by all accounts normal, frat-ish, and very (for lack of a better descriptive) bro-like. Their first reactions to this news are what every LGBTQIA person fears ‒ quiet, panicky horror where they act like nothing has changed when in reality they can’t stand to be around you. I almost stopped watching then and there, but I’m glad I didn’t: Adam’s friend Chris is forced into an epiphany ‒ that they aren’t treating Adam like they should, that Adam isn’t happy, and that he probably hasn’t been for a very long time.

This is when the movie starts getting good: Adam (and Nick, and Ortu) throw themselves into trying to make their best friend happy. They try and set him up on dates. They make an honest effort to examine some of their more… offensive attitudes. They even take Adam to his first gay bar and spend the entire night making sure he has a good time, that he isn’t feeling left out or awkward, and genuinely enjoying the atmosphere of the place.

It has its problems, but I think what resonated with me the most was that it was a feel-good movie. Adam’s sexuality was up front in the center; but instead of it making him miserable, or making the movie about the struggles he had to face because he was gay, it was about how his friends could make him happy (as a gay man). It was honestly refreshing to see a plot that focused not around how everyone was struggling to treat Adam like an actual human being who had to be miserable because he had an Unfortunate Case of The Gay, but how Chris, Nick, and Ortu needed to do better because Adam deserved to be treated better. It’s what I wish more mainstream media would do ‒ because sometimes, I do want to consume something that’s more than pain and suffering, and I want more to my movies than a character who just struggles with the fact that they’re not cisgender and heterosexual. There’s more to me than my struggles, and sometimes I just want a nice action-adventure with a cute trans lady or a dashing bi dude who have normal action-adventure struggles that aren’t tied to OH NO THEY’RE *GASP* GAY/TRANS/ETC???

You know, eventually, I’m going to figure out how to nicely end my articles 8′)

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