Aha Moment: Maurice

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 Growing up in the 1970s and '80s, Brian Sloan remembers two types of gay characters in TV and movies: flamboyant decorators, and victims of AIDS. “There was no in-between. And there was no romance involved for gay characters either.”

Sloan was in college when he saw Maurice, the Merchant Ivory adaptation of E. M. Forster’s novel, Maurice, about a gay relationship in early 20th century England. Maurice falls in love with a fellow student, Clive; bowing to social reality, Clive rejects their relationship, settling into an unhappy marriage with a woman. But Maurice’s story ends happily, with him in the arms of another man. The film struck a chord for Sloan. “It awakened within me what I wanted to say as an artist,” he says, “and that was essentially that there need to be more gay love stories.”

As a filmmaker, Sloan has written screenplays about gay characters in a range of situations, from screwball comedies to moody dramas. “The gayness of the character [is] a secondary consideration,” he says. “It’s trying to tell real stories about real people.”

Is there a movie, song, book, or another work of art that has changed your life? Tell us in a comment below, or by e-mail.