AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2010
By Don Simpson | October 20, 2010
Directors: Jay Gianukos, Susan Barnes
Orin Kennedy and Bernardo Puccio decide to commemorate their 30-plus year relationship by erecting a marble monument by the lake at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Gay marriage being impossible at the time, the monument would be Kennedy and Puccio’s way to historically document that they have loved each other for over 30 years. As part of the package deal at Hollywood Forever, a Life Story Documentary is produced as a way to fill in the gap between the date of birth and date of death. Orin and Bernardo hire filmmaker Jay Gianukos to make their Life Story Documentary. Typically the documentary is saved to be shown during the funeral; but Kennedy and Puccio decide to add a twist, screening their Life Story Documentary at the unveiling of their monument for their friends and family to view.
During their Life Story Documentary, Kennedy and Puccio reminisce about what it was like to grow up gay in the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s. (Kennedy hails from a Brooklyn Jewish family, while Bernardo grew up in an Italian Catholic community in Birmingham, Alabama.) They met in West Hollywood in 1976. Five years later Orin and Bernardo moved in together, entering into a committed and monogamous relationship. The timing could not have been more perfect; the AIDS epidemic was coming and their monogamous relationship allowed Kennedy and Puccio to become rare survivors of a generation of gays. The rest was, well, history…
It turns out that the most historical moment of their lives was yet to come. On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme Court overturned the ban on same sex marriages; and on October 12, 2008, Kennedy (a retired Chairman of the Board of the Location Managers Guild of America) and Puccio (a very popular interior designer in Beverly Hills) were officially married. That was a moment in time that not even Proposition 8 could ever take away from them.
Gianukos and Susan Barnes create a personal life story/documentary of Kennedy and Puccio’s fairy tale life that ends up making the perfect argument against Proposition 8. Other than their gender, Kennedy and Puccio are not unlike most other couples of their generation. They are opposites who came together from two completely different worlds and they always bicker (my favorite moment is when Puccio snaps “Don’t step on the flowers!” then rolls his eyes) — and somehow this proves (at least to me) that gay couples can really be just like other more “ordinary” (read: straight) couples. Any country that refuses to afford its fellow citizens the right to marriage, solely because of conservative religious ideologies, is much too backwards and prohibitive for me. Gay marriage does not hurt anyone and I will never understand why some people (read: the conservative Christian right) in the United States are able to force their moral and religious agenda on others and get away with it. Oh what a topsy-turvy world we live in!