Last week we posted our intentionally vague take on the hit film Valentine's Day. Since the film had yet to come out, New Line asked that we not reveal too much so as to maintain the surprise, but we're now pleased to offer more details on the film's gay storyline.
The film, which had the highest grossing President's Day weekend opening ever, features multiple intertwined love stories as Los Angeles celebrates Valentine's Day. Eric Dane plays Sean Jackson, a top NFL player who is contemplating ending his career to have a family. Sean ultimately announces in a press conference that the reason he hasn't been able to fulfill his personal goals is because he is gay and has had to hide for the sake of his career. The story is a particularly bold one because Sean also makes it clear that he is going to continue playing professional football, a move that is met with support from the local sportscaster played by Jamie Foxx.
In another storyline, Bradley Cooper's Holden shares a plane ride with Julia Roberts' Kate, a soldier coming home to visit "her man" for Valentine's Day. Kate notices that Holden seems put off by the holiday and he reveals that he is freshly out of a relationship. When Kate points out that the flight attendants are all attracted to Holden, he seems largely uninterested.
In one of the film's final scenes, Sean is shown sleeping in his living room. Behind him, the door opens and a man walks in. As he kneels next to Sean and wakes him, the man is revealed to be Holden. Now that Sean is out, the two can reunite and have the life that they couldn't before.
We applaud director Garry Marshall, a longtime friend of GLAAD, and screenwriter Katherine Fugate for including a gay couple when so many other major romantic comedies tend to relegate gay characters to the best friend role. On top of that, it tackles the hot button issue of openly gay professional athletes in a way that we hope will open hearts and minds, especially given the film's box office success.
To date, no NFL player has come out while still active in the game, though the climate may slowly be changing. Scott Fujita, a straight linebacker for the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, is a strong and vocal supporter of LGBT rights who has said he would support a gay teammate, an attitude that appears to be spreading.
Though the Sean and Holden's story is not one of Valentine's Day's central love stories, nor is it fully revealed until the end, it is still a marked improvement from the norm in this genre. We look forward to the day when a fictional gay or lesbian couple can headline their own major studio romantic comedy.