The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Being Yourself Isn’t Easy When You’re Queer

Intro by Maria

I love the 1975 musical cult classic, midnight movie phenomenon called The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s another one of those childhood classics of mine. First, the songs in this movie are just amazing. I still listen to the soundtrack to this day. Second, it’s fun and entertaining. It begs for you to participate—to jump up to your left and step to the right; to scream, “Say it!” when Frank takes a little too long to say, “anticipation.” And who doesn’t go absolutely over the moon when Meatloaf rides in? People without a soul, that’s who.

So here’s the plot if you don’t know it: Janet and Brad want to get married, so, naturally, they set out on a road trip, but when their car breaks down, they have to find help. The help ends up being Dr. Frank-N-Furter, played by the undeniably sexy Tim Curry. Frank-N-Furter is an alien and a sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania. He’s also making a man. Yes you heard me—making a man (with blonde hair and a tan for relieving tension). But you get it, right? He’s like Frankenstein. And he ends up kind of holding Brad and Janet captive, and then also seducing them. Eventually Riff Raff and Magenta, Frank’s servants, take over, and they launch the castle back into outer space, leaving Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott injured on the surface.

That’s the plot, and during that entire film, people are singing and dancing to some of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard. And so it’s fun, and it also feels like truth, because all the characters give in to what they want and desire—and we can only do that when we are being real. Giving in to “absolute pleasure” might be the most genuine thing we can ever do.

So for this special episode during pride month, you’ll listen to Brandon and me talk about this wonderful movie. Also, I give Brandon another quiz. Will he do just as well during this assessment? You know the only way to find out is to listen to this next episode of Peculiar Picture Show.

Show Summary


Out of 14 questions, Brandon got 11 right, so he scored a 79% (though two that he got wrong were trick questions).

During the quiz, Maria says, “Song of Damocles,” but it is “Sword of Damocles.” DUH.

Charles Atlas may be related to Maria.

Overall Thoughts: Maria favorite, did a lot for the LGBTQ community, big part of Gen X culture

M: One of my favorite films and one of the last great musicals; did a lot for the LGBTQ community; ahead of its time; midnight movie classic with audience participation; popular during Halloween; Brandon is a RHPS virgin; one of the last great musicals; probably saw the movie when I was around 10.

B: A coming of age film for Gen X; didn’t see the movie until I was 20.

Like: Being unashamed to be yourself, and a killer soundtrack

M: By introducing me to this movie, I feel like it’s a gift my older brother gave me; this movie is all about doing things for pleasure and being yourself and authentic, and in that way, it is hopeful, and I like that, but I also like that the movie is somewhat damning of the human race (as insects); the world is tailored to CIS gender, heterosexuals, and everyone else is the “other,” and this movie seems like a statement on that; I love the soundtrack.

B: It’s fun, and the music is awesome, and the humor is good; this is the ultimate pride movie; the movie is a safe space for all kinds of people;

Dislike: [intentionally blank]

We, Maria and Brandon, are striking the Disliking segment from this episode.

Mental Health: It’s hard being yourself when you’re gay, homophobes can change

M: It’s hard coming out as gay, and it’s also tough when heterosexual people feel entitled, like they think gay people need to explain everything to them and come out to them. Stop it, people. It’s not up to gay people to tell everyone they are gay and educate people about the gay rights movement. No one owes you anything.

B: This is pride month, and the hate that gay people get from society can cause mental health issues. I used to be that guy who told gay jokes and was slightly homophobic when I was younger, and I deeply regret this because it’s wrong and I did hurt people. Change takes time, and you will mess it up from time to time. Don’t bury it or make excuses—be better and make things right.

Next movie: 2006 Little Miss Sunshine


M: When you’re growing up and you’re realizing that the world is really tailored to CIS gender, heterosexual people, and you’re the other, and along comes this movie, which was made in 1975, and Brad and Janet, who are representing the CIS gender, heterosexual people, they never say, “Oh my god—you’re gay! Gross!” They immerse themselves in this weird world and even have sexual relations with Frank-N-Furter, and it’s never like “Oh my god, I am not gay.” There’s no judgement. So the film is very much about inclusion.

M: Being a weirdo doesn’t mean a bad thing or to be the “other”—it’s just something that is, and a lot of this movie is about giving yourself to being authentic and giving yourself over to absolute pleasure. And I love that about this film.

M: At the end in the song, he compares the human race to insects, and he says that we’re lost in time, lost in space, and meaning. And it repeats “lost in meaning.” I have a special affinity for movies that are kind of damning and condemning the human race. When I was younger, I very much thought that we were doomed and that almost everyone is bad because we’re allowing all these bad things to happen, like we allow people to be discriminated against for things that aren’t in their control, whether that’s for the color of their skin, who they choose to love and how, or their sexual organs, their gender—why are we still living in a world where that’s okay? And because of that and until we can change that, we are all shit. We’re all assholes. We’re all bad people in my eyes until we fucking overthrow this shit.

M: The meaning of life to me is to have fun, because I don’t really know what the meaning of life is. I’m not religious. I don’t believe in a higher power. So what I am going to do? I’m forced to be here. I didn’t ask to be here—not that I know of. So I’m going to try to make my life the best it can. I’m going to try to enjoy the things I enjoy, without during people, and also making everybody else’s life as good as I possible can make it because life fucking sucks. And because we’re all like these insects that are crawling on the earth, leaving everything worse than how we found it. The least I can do because I can only do so much in terms of trying to change it for people who are outside and who are the other. I have to somehow make it better in little tiny ways. And that means giving yourself over to absolute pleasure sometimes. And letting people have absolute pleasure, even if you don’t agree with the way that they’re getting that pleasure. Everyone is different. Everyone has fetishes. Everybody can be thought of as weird. As long as you’re not hurting people, it’s okay.

B: There’s this idea that discrimination is one huge event—and it can be, it often is. But discrimination can also be dangerous when it’s just, like, a hundred micro-aggressions. And that’s significant. We still need to fix that.

B: Being gay in society is hard, and I think that can cause some mental health issues. Society is really geared toward a very traditional view of love, of being a person, of everything, and so the further you are from that norm, the harder it is for you. We need to have safe spaces for these people.

B: I like to portray myself as this woke, progressive, feminist guy—and I think I am that in a lot of ways—but a lot of what I’ve learned has been through failure, has been through me messing up. And so that’s the thing: We feel like, a lot of times, when we mess up, we have to defend those actions, we have to stick by those and justify those, when we’re not going to grow unless we’re willing to, one, say we’re wrong and, two, just try to make things right and get past that.

B: The movie is a safe place for just about everybody because a lot of people who are unfamiliar with the gay rights movement, with gay culture—they don’t know why we need pride. They wonder why people need pride and pride festivals. Society is for a certain type of person. It’s for traditional, CIS gender, heterosexual…when all of society is saying this is who society is for, you don’t feel like you can be yourself if you don’t fit into that norm, and so what pride as a movement does is it just says that it’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to be whatever you are. And so it gives them a safe space to be whatever they are. In that sense, this is one of the first real pride movies, and probably still one of the ultimate pride movies.

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