Why I’m Excited For “Freeheld”

This fall is packed with new LGBTQ+ movies! I’m going to talk about Freeheld at the moment, because it was released today, but there are plenty of others – Grandma (Aug.  21), Stonewall (Sept. 25), About Ray (unknown, release postponed), Carol (Nov. 20), and The Danish Girl (Nov. 27).

I’m… excited for some of these movies, and anxious about the others! Stonewall tanked, happily – it was transphobic and racist and gross – and I’m kind of hoping About Ray and The Danish Girl go the same way. (Unlike Stonewall, they don’t ignore queer people, buuuut… they cast cis actors in trans roles and UGH I JUST. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT.)

Grandma looks hilarious, though, and so does Freeheld, and AHHH OMG BRB I’M FREAKING OUT ABOUT CAROL.

At any rate, I would like to post about all of these movies at some point!

(Also, it’s LGBTQ+ History Month, so… hopefully I’ll write a post or two on that?)

But today I’m just talking about Freeheld. Also, I’m having a sad because I have no way of watching it any time soon – the local indie theater doesn’t have it yet, and the next closest theater is in the next town over! I could walk there, I suppose.

Hmm. Anyway. I’m slightly bummed about that, and also because the indie theater’s last showing of Grandma was last night and I didn’t even realize that, and also Carol comes out (pun not intended) the same weekend as Mockingjay Part Two so basically I’m going to spend like $20 on movie tickets over Thanksgiving break?

UGH SORRY I GOT DISTRACTED. WHAT WAS I SAYING? OH RIGHT. FREEHELD. I’ve been looking forward to this movie for months along with… Artgirl @ Alien Cows, I think. (My brain is going in fifty different directions at the moment, so I apologize if I just confused you with someone else. UGH THE COLLEGE ZOMBIES ATE MY BRAIN.)

Freeheld is based on a true story and is, essentially, the expanded version of a short documentary film of the same name… which won an Oscar! It’s about a police officer who was dying of cancer and was denied the ability to transfer her pension benefits to her domestic partner after death.

That seems like such a mundane topic at first – I mean, pensions? Who’s going to watch a movie about pensions? But it’s important. This movie is important. Homophobia isn’t limited to, say, violent acts, although they certainly do happen. With alarming frequency.

If Laurel, the main character, were married to a man, no one would challenge her husband’s claim to her pension – but they’re utterly opposed to the idea of her partner, Stacie, receiving it. So they have to fight for it, and there’s a court battle, and this drags on for months and months until just before Laurel’s death.

She gets her happy ending, sort of. But it just… I don’t know, it really frustrates me that this is something we have to do. That LGBTQ+ people can’t take this sort of thing for granted. That we have two choices – fight long and hard to be treated with respect (even if we don’t like confrontation, or are, you know, dying and would much rather be spending our last days with those we love), or stay quiet and get treated like we don’t even matter.

I’ve seen this play out both in my home state of Indiana and on a national level – the plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges (the Supreme Court case that legalized marriage equality on a national level this past summer) was fighting to be recognized as the surviving spouse on his husband’s death certificate. We have to fight even when we’re sick or dying, and then others take up the fight after we’re gone, and it just really makes me mad. That this is a thing that happens. And I hope that this movie makes people think about that. These events were certainly in the newspapers, and many people read about them, but sometimes seeing it makes everything a bit more real.

…on a happier note, I’m also looking forward to seeing this movie because ELLEN PAGE is in it! Oh my god. SHE IS SO TINY AND CUTE OMG. I HAVE SUCH A CRUSH. And she’s gay! She came out on Valentine’s Day last year and ohhhhh my god, I cried so much. Her speech was amazing.

And queer actors playing queer characters is just so important, you know? It shows us that we can be out AND have successful careers, and that we can tell our own stories. OMG TELLING OUR OWN STORIES. IS SO IMPORTANT. Queer actors bring a level of believability that… just isn’t going to be there with straight/cis actors, sorry. Because lived experience does matter – in any kind of role. So I’m incredibly happy that Ellen Page is in this movie.

(Side note: I follow a couple of film blogs, and this morning one of them posted a review of Freeheld that… really pissed me off? I’m not going to link to their post because I don’t want to name names and start a fight, but I’m really bothered by how they praised the actors who play the homophobic government officials in this film for being “brave” enough to take on a role that people would hate. Like, what the hell? This is a movie about queer women? And they didn’t talk about how brave Ellen Page was for playing Stacie and just, you know, being out IRL? Can you please focus on queer women?)

I really appreciated this quote from the end of The Mary Sue’s interview with Ellen Page:

“I’ve appreciated that Page has continued to use press opportunities surrounding Freeheld to highlight that this is an ongoing struggle in our country and elsewhere, rather than framing the film as a feel-good story of neat, conclusive victory. The reality is more complicated than that.”


Also, the song in the trailer above is by Miley Cyrus! I’m… not happy about some of the things she’s done (racism, why), but on the hand AT LEAST WE HAVE MUSIC BY AN ACTUAL QUEER ARTIST. Instead of, like, some crap from Macklemore. Thank goodness. Yayyyy for queer people working together to make queer stories!

SO. YEAH. THERE YOU HAVE IT. I am so excited for this movie, and now I just need to find somewhere to watch it! What are your thoughts on Freeheld?


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Why I’m Excited For “Freeheld”

  1. Levi says:

    i’m pretty interested in about ray. like it doesn’t bother so much that they cast a cis girl to play a trans boy – from an acting perspective i can see how it would be interesting for her and as a trans boy myself i think it would be real hard to ask a kid to postpone his transitioning for a film (not all of us don’t want to transition fully, like me). but i do see why it was problematic. idk it’s kind of a hard place to be lmao

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yeah, it’s… well, that they cast a cis person, but also the director’s comments are super awful? Like Ray is “a girl ineffectually presenting as a boy” and just horrible misgendering and. Like The Danish Girl is awful but at least they’re not misgendering?

      • Levi says:

        bro ikr like people are always misgendering me in that way. it’s like TRANS BOYS AREN’T GIRLS PRETENDING TO BE BOYS but unfortunately it’s a really common thing ppl say and think

  2. Mo says:

    Oh my god I want to see it so much but IDK who would go with me or if it’s playing nearby so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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