The last couple of movies Molly Shannon has starred in have seen her playing the mother of a gay man. That was her character in both Other People and Miles, the latter of which was just released in US cinemas. It turns out this wasn’t purely a coincidence (or because they were the only gigs she could get). It was partially because her father gay, although she didn’t know this until towards the end of his life.
As reported by The Advocate, at a post-screening Q&A in Los Angeles last week, she said, “My dad was gay and closeted – born in 1926, where it wasn’t an option. Married.”
Shannon was unaware of her father’s hidden sexuality growing up, although now she sees that there were certain aspects of his personality that might have been a clue. “When I went to NYU drama school, I would send him pictures of like a head shot of Judy Garland,” she said. I didn’t associate that he might be gay; I just thought, ‘He’ll love this! And then when I got my first color head shots, my dad framed it and threw gold stars all over it.”
It wasn’t until later in life that he revealed his sexuality. Molly recalls, “He was 72 when he told me. He told me he was gay right before he died.We were sitting at the pool at the Four Seasons, and I said, ‘Have you ever thought you might be gay?’ He said, ‘Most definitely.’ And then we drove to Ohio and talked about it for the next 72 hours.”
As for her recent choice of movies, she adds, “All stories about people being gay and coming out, I’m just so attracted to. It was my whole childhood. My whole life. I was the child of somebody who had to keep that secret. So anything I can do to let that out and tell all those stories is the most important thing to me.”
In Miles, longtime LGBT advocate Shannon plays Pam, whose gay son (the titular Miles) can’t wait to leave high school so he can leave the small town he grew up in and go to college in Chicago. However, when Pam’s husband dies she discovers he spent all their cash – including Miles’ university funds – on his mistress. That sets Miles off on a mission to find some other way of getting out of his hometown, while his mother starts to explore life out from under the thumb of her husband. You can read our review of the movie here.