NEW YORK – Revisiting Mart Crowley’s seminal 1968 play, “The Boys in the Band,” in a new movie adaptation on Netflix privies viewers to both the early struggles of the gay community and the offensive, hurtful language of the era.
While some of those gay and racial slurs were hard to speak, Jim Parsons and the cast believe it was necessary to use words now considered unspeakable to both honor Crowley’s dialogue, as well as make the audience feel the discomfort of the marginalization of the gay community at the time.
Crowley’s story follows a group of men and takes place a year before the historic Stonewall riots in New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood that solidified the gay liberation movement.
Parsons, whose character, Michael uses a fair share of the racial, gay, and anti-Semitic slurs, admits he was uncomfortable.
“It’s ugly. And none of those words were ever uttered by me without a severe amount of trepidation and a sick feeling in your stomach going into it,” Parsons told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
Though uncomfortable, Parsons realized it was more important to embrace it than ignore.
“The sad part, I guess, is that because of what we’re talking about, that’s kind of the point. And you kind of have to go there to understand how a moment like that happens and where — why is this character willing to talk this way and see the hurt that it causes,” Parsons said.
Director Joe Mantello, who also helmed the play, agrees that keeping the offensive language helps understand the story and plight of the characters.