Warning: contains spoilers for Bros.While it might be a romantic comedy at heart, brothers it’s also chock-full of references to true LGBTQ+ history, many of which have been deliberately forgotten or erased. brothers It claims its own place in LGBTQ+ history as the first gay romantic comedy to come from a major studio. According to that fact, brothers prioritized having a predominantly LGBTQ+ cast and crew, offering opportunities to people who have often been unable to participate in larger productions.
brothers focuses its story on the romance between Bobby (Billy Eichner) and Aaron (Luke Macfarlane). However, it is also framed by Bobby and his board’s attempt to open an LGBTQ+ history museum. This frame provides the perfect way to brothers to introduce discussions about queer history and experiences without feeling too forced.
While some of the LGBTQ+ history included in brothers self-explanatory or generally well-known, other parts may leave some viewers feeling a bit in the dark. This is especially true given the other aspect that is brought up in these discussions: the ongoing erasure and loss of LGBTQ+ history in society. Most of Bobby’s comments, including those about LGBTQ+ figures from thousands of years ago who were deliberately ignored, forgotten, or erased, are completely accurate. These are the key parts of the LGBTQ+ story brothers discuss and what are the true stories behind them.
Wait, who dropped the first brick at Stonewall?
Throughout the 1960s, it was common for police to raid LGBTQ+ bars and gay neighborhoods were subject to police brutality, as police enforced laws that made consensual LGBTQ+ sex illegal or even dancing with a same-gender couple. While there was backlash against these, the raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village on June 28, 1969 served to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Stonewall riots that arose as a result are credited with being behind a larger shift in the gay liberation movement and are the event commemorated by the Pride parades each June.
In many circles, it’s considered common knowledge that the first brick of the Stonewall riots was thrown by a trans woman of color: Marsha P. Johnson. Bobby suggests that it is unknown who threw the first brick, but he mocks the cis gay men for being late to the party by suggesting that one of them probably threw the eleventh brick at Stonewall. The comment about the first brick is actually true, for while Marsha P. Johnson is often cited as the person who threw the first brick, she refuted it herself, saying in interviews in 1979 and 2001 that she didn’t arrive until 2 a.m. , that the riots had already started and pointed out “Many historians have given me credit for launching the first Molotov cocktail, but I always like to correct it. I threw the second, I didn’t throw the first!” (via pink news). You don’t really know who threw the first brick, as Bobby says, and ultimately it’s important that the event happened.
Why Provincetown is so important in Bros and its real history
In brothersBobby has to travel to Provincetown to try to convince a donor to support the museum’s LGBTQ+ exhibit and has to appear on a float in the Pride parade. Aaron unexpectedly joins him and they have some key intimate moments during their journey. However, Provincetown itself is important to LGBTQ+ history and is not just a seaside destination that brothers used for aesthetics.
Provincetown is a major LGBTQ+ summer tourism hotspot with the Provincetown Business Guild having formed in the 1970s to help promote gay tourism. Before that, the city already had a large LGBTQ+ population and since the early 1900s, the area was noted for gay-driven art, theater, and drag performances. Provincetown is home to Atlantic House, which claims to be the oldest gay bar in the United States, and has a 2017 memorial dedicated to people who have died of AIDS.
What are Bobby’s continual references to the dead about?
Along the brothers, there are references to the dead and those who are no longer here to tell their stories. Two of the most notable come from the owner of the place where Bobby and Aaron are staying in Provincetown, who shows a photograph of seven men and claims that four died shortly after, and in Bobby’s speech at the museum, he takes a moment to acknowledge them. . who are no longer able to attend the event. While Bobby rarely says directly what he is talking about, these references refer to the large number of LGBTQ+ people, particularly gay men, who have died from the AIDS epidemic.
While there are other reasons why LGBTQ+ people may have lower life expectancies than other groups, the AIDS crisis was responsible for thousands upon thousands of deaths during the 1980s and 1990s. The epidemic was largely ignored by President Reagan, who denied additional research spending. When he made his first speech on the subject (six years after he was first elected and five years after the crisis), more than 20,000 people had already died of AIDS in the United States. This was not only a tragedy for the lives lost, but also for the knowledge and history that was lost with them. As LGBTQ+ communities were often ostracized, a substantial part of their history since the 1900s was passed down through oral tradition and with the death of such a large part of the community, much history was lost, which contributed to the forgotten LGBTQ+ history that Bobby references in brothers.
Was Lincoln really gay (or bisexual)?
Trying to find the perfect theme for the final exhibit of your LGBTQ+ museum in brothersBobby comes up with the idea of an exhibit about Lincoln being gay or, as Robert (Jim Rash) points out, more likely bisexual. While the exhibit begins to be assembled, it is eventually removed after people threaten to boycott the museum and the characters note that it is a hotly debated topic and that stating Lincoln’s sexuality is difficult to do with certainty. While Abraham Lincoln’s sexuality cannot be definitively stated (that would be up to him to do, and that raises some logistical issues at this point), there is definitely enough evidence that it is a debatable topic and has been discussed at least since the beginning. early 1900s.
What brothers notes, Lincoln had a close friendship and business associate with Joshua Fry Speed and they became roommates and shared a bed for four years. While same-sex bed-sharing was not uncommon at the time and did not necessarily indicate a closer relationship, it was rare for such an arrangement to continue for so long. While documents have surfaced claiming the two were lovers, their veracity has never been proven.
Some suggest that it is not possible that Lincoln and Speed had a relationship since Lincoln’s marriage to Mary Todd Lincoln and the four children that came from the marriage show that he had heterosexual interests. In addition to ignoring bisexual and pansexual orientations, this repudiation overlooks the delays in the marriage of the two. The Lincolns were scheduled to marry on January 1, 1841, but Abraham Lincoln broke off the engagement on his wedding day and that same year he visited Joshua Speed for a month as a way to restore his sanity. It wasn’t until November 4, 1842, nearly two years after the original ceremony was planned, that the Lincolns were finally married.
One biographer, Wayne C. Temple, has suggested that he married Mary Todd after she became pregnant, noting that when he asked James Harvey Matheny to be his best man, he said, “I’ll have to marry that girl” and when he his landlord’s son saw Lincoln getting dressed for his wedding and asked where the man was going, Lincoln replied “to hell, I guess.” (via Los Angeles Times). So while Lincoln’s sexuality will likely remain a mystery, it’s clear he was close to Joshua Fry Speed and perhaps wasn’t all that excited about marrying Mary Todd Lincoln, suggesting there’s plenty of room for debate. .
LGBTQ+ museum cameos explained
In the brothers At the end, visitors to the LGBTQ+ history museum are greeted by holographic straight actors playing key LGBTQ+ historical figures. All of these cameos are introduced by another cameo as Ben Stiller plays his Night in the museum character, Larry Daley, in a skit that makes up for an earlier banter between Bobby and Aaron. While some of these figures may be familiar to all audiences, the names are rushed and explanation of the importance of the figures is omitted.
Amy Schumer plays Eleanor Roosevelt, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first lady. While less controversial than Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt’s place in the LGBTQ+ community is another topic of scholarly discussion. During her lifetime, Eleanor Roosevelt exchanged intimate letters with an Associated Press reporter, Lorena “Hick” Hickok, who was a lesbian. The letters they shared suggest a certain physicality in their relationship, but the full details are lost to time. Eleanor Roosevelt also maintained friendships with many lesbian couples, but historians remain generally divided on this, with most tending to assume that historical figures are cisgender and heterosexual unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Harvey Milk (Seth Meyers) and James Baldwin (Kenan Thompson) are less controversial entries into the LGBTQ+ history museum than Abraham Lincoln or Eleanor Roosevelt. James Baldwin was a celebrated novelist whose books such as If Beale Street Could Talk Y Go say it on the mountain explore issues of race, sexuality, and class. He also played an important role in both the civil rights and gay liberation movements during the 20th century. Harvey Milk (who became the subject of the biopic directed by Sean Penn) Milk in 2008) was a massive figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement and pushed for greater acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, sponsoring one of the first bills banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Shortly after the bill passed, he was assassinated by Dan White, who had voted against the bill. While his history within the LGBTQ+ community is not without controversy, he was instrumental in broader political change and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Obama. Even Harvey Milk, whose story is perhaps the best known of these, is often not taught in schools, and all of these cameos represent some of the forgotten and erased LGBTQ+ history that brothers discuss
Next: Netflix’s LGBTQ+ Representative Is Great (But We Can’t Ignore The Problem)