Coming Out 

The year Hollywood lost its homophobia.

Social conservatives may have put the brakes on gay marriage, but there isn't much they can do about gay movies, which arrived like some biblical flood in the last months of 2005. Along with Capote, a vivid portrait of the most celebrated gay writer of the 1960s, Ang Lee's romantic tragedy Brokeback Mountain, the story of two lean cowboys who fall in love and stay there, on and off, for twenty years, may signal a startling shift of attitude in mainstream Hollywood. The film was adapted from a much-honored short story by Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Proulx, and it stars two of the industry's most respected young actors -- Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Breakfast on Pluto, directed by The Crying Game's Neil Jordan, may not draw as well, but Cillian Murphy puts in an energetic performance as an Irish cross-dresser who gets entangled in an IRA bomb plot in London. Looking for a companion piece? In the offbeat comedy Transamerica, Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives fame portrays a pre-op transgender candidate who learns that she once fathered a son, now a teenage gay hustler in Manhattan, and they take a mutually revealing cross-country road trip together.

In The Dying Gaul, a gay writer runs afoul of a Hollywood producer over a screenplay about his lover's death from AIDS, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, an exercise in mock pulp fiction, features Val Kilmer as a Los Angeles private detective known as Gay Perry. The movie version of the Broadway rock hit Rent is amply stocked with a lesbian couple, a transvestite, and a gay man. A couple of otherwise hetero movies also feature prominent gay characters: Trying to ensure that their Broadway musical bombs, The Producers, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, sign up a cross-dressing director and instruct him to "keep it gay." In Mrs. Henderson Presents, the wartime nudie revues financed by well-heeled widow Judi Dench are anchored by a gay leading man.

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