I was just old enough to recall scenes very much like the one Crowley portrayed, where a group of homosexual men, who perhaps knew each other far too well, would gather and try to be wittier than the others in Oscar Wilde-like quips, mostly dishing the others for their past and present digressions. The goal was to out-do one another in outrageous put-downs, while also satirizing oneself. I was young enough to find it somewhat entertaining, and clever enough to spout a couple of zingers each evening. What I hated, however, was the exaggeration of these events, the adoption of feminine names and personalities, and the closeted and claustrophobic self-hatred that often emanated from the group.
These very types, of course, allow the film to open up also discussions of other feelings of outsiderness due to ignorance, anti-Semitism, racism, and patriarchal male notions of masculinity, while Michael’s alcoholism gives rise to his bad behavior which spins the work into the nightmare world it becomes when he insists that they all play a telephone game (this was a time of old-fashioned phones) in which they must call someone from the past whom they first loved. Actually, given the facts of my first love, which I recount in My Year 2005, the former high school football captain who later killed himself, I wish I might have played such a game, letting him know, what he had perhaps known better than I, that he was not alone, and that he had been loved from afar. And I later discovered that I was not the only one in my school who secretly loved him—if you can describe teenage attraction as love.