Paul Oremland is a film director. He is also a gay man. He has also slept with a lot of men.
Why is this important? Without all three attributes there wouldn’t be the wonderful documentary, “100 Men,” which, through Paul’s recollection of his lovers, shows the struggle and change that has affected the homosexual community for the past 40 years.
The basic story of the documentary is that Paul began to reflect on his past lovers. He decided to rank them from 100 down to his number one. As a film director is wont to do, why not try to track down these men, interview them, and use them to tell a story? So he did.
The documentary begins looking back at the 1970’s with Paul as a gay man in New Zealand. His family was religious, and there was a lot of belief that by giving your life to God, he can make you straight. As we go through the documentary we find that isn’t the case.
Through his recollections Paul describes the trysts, naming many of them based on the situations involved, i.e., Beach Guy (met on a beach), Toilet Boy (met in a toilet), Toy Boy (he liked sex toys), and the Fireman (“straight out of a porn film, and then the fireman would go back home to his girlfriend”). The most frank, though, was the Accountant, who Paul said was on the list for one reason only, the guy’s enormous, well, you get the idea.
Along with the no-name lovers, Paul was able to track down many of the others through phone numbers and even Facebook. Through the interviews they all looked back at how things have changed over the years.
Many of the stories showed a side where the men really wanted to look for relationships, but at the end of the day, as society wouldn’t accept two men together, it was easier to just find quick love while cruising and then go back to pretending to be straight. They explained their “cruising,” meeting men on beaches, in parks, even public toilets, because it was the easiest thing to do. As one put it, “It was hell to come out back then.”
As the years went on things rolled into the ’80s, AIDS, and “I came out into a world of condoms and fear.” It was also a time of hatred of gay people, but also the beginning of the change to acceptance.
As the documentary continued it was interesting how acceptance is now almost becoming a challenge for the LGBT community. First technology came along that made finding other gay people easier. Then, as it was put, “There’s a consequence of having gay acceptance to some extent, we have lost something,” as many gay people are feeling they are losing their identity. “We are going to have to get used to us being equal.” Noted was how gay only clubs are starting to fail because, as gay people are accepted, they are finding they don’t need the gay only clubs to meet people any longer.
Yes, there are still challenges, and “100 Men” doesn’t sugar-coat things, but it is fascinating seeing the change through the years.
As much as Paul found many of his old lovers to interview, I enjoyed his talking with Alan, I believe he was the “Older Maori Guy,” an older, gay man, who put things nicely, “You go from lust to love to very good friendship to pure love.” He has been with his partner for 50 years. Alan also had the funniest line of the movie, when asked about what happens when you get old as a gay man, “There is many a good tune played on an old fiddle.”
I wasn’t sure if I was going to care for “100 Men” as part of me was worried it was just going to story after story of having one-and-done sex with men, but the documentary is a lot more. It’s a look at the challenges, the love, the growth, and the changes that have taken place over the past forty years in the gay community.
Yes, there is still a lot of work to do, but as he reflected on his top ten, Paul noted that were based more on friendship then on sex, and at the top of the list was his long-time love John. Paul puts it, “Together we have been part of a movement that have changed the world.”
Happy times, sad times, challenging times, and funny times, “100 Men” is, at the end, a loving look at one man’s journey from a world that believed God could make you straight, to a world that has gay Muslims marching out in the open with everyone else looking for equality. 4 stars out of 5.
That’s it for this one! L8R!!