When I caught the film Any Day Now during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, I felt I entered a historical time warp. This story of a gay couple trying in vain to adopt a mentally handicapped teenager set in the late 1970s could easily be ripped from today's headlines. While the cringeworthy 70s’ era hair and clothing on display in the film have gone the way of the pet rock, unfortunately the seemingly paleolithic "pro-family" values that permeated this decade still reverberate in our 21st century socio-political discourse.
In this film Rudy, an aspiring singer played with tender aplomb by Alan Cummings, comes to the aid of Marco (Isaac Leyva) after his mother lands in jail courtesy of the vice squad. At first, Rudy's newfound boyfriend, closeted district attorney Paul (Garret Dillahunt), expresses a reticence to "get involved" over concerns that he could lose his job if his relationship with Rudy becomes exposed (let alone the challenges of raising a teenager with down syndrome). But after Rudy protests that there is no one else in the world who cares about Marco other than them, Paul agrees to champion their right to be a family. Once Paul steps up, his homophobic boss steps in and Rudy finds himself no longer employed at the DA's office.
Throughout the film, we see a family emerge before our eyes. For the first time in Marco's life, he gets to live with two people who exhibit the same sacrificial love towards a child that one finds in any stable family home. In a particularly bittersweet moment, Rudy quits his job as a drag queen performer so that they can present themselves as a "normal" family. However, despite the judge's acknowledgment of how much Marco flourished under these men's care, she cannot reward them custody due to their "homosexual lifestyle." Under the skillful direction of Travis Fine, the ensuring scenes exhibit a depth of despair without disintegrating into a Lifetime TV schmaltz that all too often one finds in custody dramas. I seldom tear up at the movies especially when I am at a press screening. But this film brought tears to my eyes, as I recalled memories of losing my own parents when I was a teen. I suspect that anyone who has suffered a similar loss as a child or a parent will have a similar reaction.
While Any Day Now won the audience award at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, this film has yet to find a distributor. Hopefully, this film will find a wider audience in the hopes that all those who support the National Organization for Marriage and other "pro-family" groups cited in GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project can walk in Rudy and Paul's footsteps. Maybe then, they will realize that those of us pushing marriage equality aren't just talking about the politics of gay rights. We're also speaking the language of love, a language that cannot discriminate when spoken from the heart. Every child should have the right to the kind of a home that Paul and Rudy provided to a child that no one else wanted. Simply put, how many more Marcos can we sacrifice before we agree that Any Day Now is today?
Image courtesy of Any Day Now