‘Straight A’: A Relatable Short for the Closeted Gay

Straight A

‘Straight A’ tells the story of a gay son and his struggle to both keep his secret gay relationship and his straight-A image on his father.

It’s a short film — just eight minutes long — but it is quite packed with so many issues closeted gay men would relate to. Why? Check our recap here. But before that, here’s your obligatory warning:

SPOILERS AHEAD. Read at your own risk!

‘Straight A’ starts off with the camera panning a room, showing the family background of the main character, Alex Chen (played by Todd Lien). It’s a subtle introduction. We’re introduced to a Chinese immigrant household with a son who excels academically but has apparently lost his mother. The camera ends on the bed where Alex lies with his white boyfriend, Kyle (played by Zach Cramblit), ranting about how he hasn’t gotten much sleep because of school government work. It gets interrupted when Alex gifts his boyfriend to celebrate their anniversary. His boyfriend then pulls out a ring and hands it to Alex. Before he can even explain, they hear the gates open, and it’s Alex’s father (played by Nathan Chen) coming home. Both understand that they have to pack up, so they rush to get clothed, and Alex sets the ring aside on the table.

As soon as he comes home, Alex’s father checks on his son and finds him with Kyle “studying” — a story Kyle makes up. The situation gets awkward, and the father leaves the two. As soon as he’s out of the room, it gets tense between Alex and Kyle. Kyle asks his boyfriend for how long he’s supposed to pretend to be his “best friend” when they’ve been dating for four years. It escalates into an argument, with Alex thinking about the possible repercussions of outing himself to his and his family’s reputation, while Kyle feels like he’s an embarrassment to Alex’s family. Kyle leaves, and Alex stays in his room for the whole day.

Straight A
(Image: GagaOOLala)

Alex joins his father for dinner, and the latter tries to start a heart-to-heart conversation, noticing how his son seems to be preoccupied with a lot of things. Unfortunately, it turns into another “make your ancestors proud” kind of talk. Alex tries his best to put up with the talk, but his father brings up his mom, saying that his mom would not want to see him like this, which ticks Alex off. Just as he is about to leave, his father asks him if there is something Alex wants to tell, but Alex says no.

When Alex returns to his room, he realizes that the ring Kyle gave him is missing. He looks for it but doesn’t find it. Desperate, he calls Kyle to ask if he has the ring, but his boyfriend doesn’t pick up. He leaves his room and finds his father talking to his wife’s portrait. There, Alex hears him talk about how he knows that his son is struggling, but he doesn’t know how to talk to him. He also confides to his wife that he also knows that his son is gay, he just doesn’t know when is the best time to admit it. At that point, Alex calls his father and apologizes for snapping at him at dinner. Apparently, his father has kept the ring, and he hands it to Alex so he can patch things up with Kyle. They share a hug and he leaves for Kyle.

The short ends with the three sharing a happy dinner altogether.

‘Straight A’ isn’t the most spectacular short. The acting can be a little awkward, and it’s a little too hopeful, almost too good to be true. But then, we’re so over sad gay stories, aren’t we? Among many other reasons, another sad representation just adds to the fear that gays don’t deserve a happy ending. It may not be perfectly reflective of the realities, but the struggles of a closeted gay man — with an extra sprinkle of the intersection of race, family relations, and privileges — is something worth noting.

You can watch ‘Straight A’ on Gagaoolala

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