James Franco playing openly gay beat
generation poet Allen Ginsberg in Howl will open Outfest,
Los Angeles' gay film festival, on Thursday.
While Ginsberg is best known as the
quintessential beat generation poet, he was also a pioneering gay
rights advocate. Ginsberg often discussed being gay and advocated
for the freedoms of sexual minorities. He went so far as to list his
lover, the poet Peter Orlovsky, as his spouse in his Who's Who entry.
Orlovsky is played by Aaron Tveit in the movie.
Howl, however, is not a love
story, but a look at Ginsberg's most famous poem, Howl. The
poem, published in 1955 by City Lights, a San Francisco-based
bookstore, became the subject of a landmark obscenity trial that
tested the boundaries of the First Amendment.
Last year, Franco played Harvey Milk's
gay lover, Scott Smith, in the feature film Milk. The
highly-acclaimed movie about the San Francisco politician murdered on
the steps of City Hall was directed by Gus Van Sant. Van Sant
executive produced Howl.
As a film director, Franco has produced
two gay-themed shorts.
Franco's The Feast of Stephen
won a Teddy award at the Berlin Film Festival where it premiered.
Feast features a young gay man whose daydream of naked boys
playing basketball turns violent when the boys chase him down.
Another short, The Clerk's Tale, premiered at France's Cannes
Film Festival. In the film, a gay man is haunted by the monotony of
working at a high-end menswear store. Both shorts are based on
“I want to be an artist and I want to
be crazy,” Franco told UK
He said he doesn't care much if the gay
roles he's played and the gay characters he's portrayed in his films
lead people to believe he's gay.
“The worst downside, and I don't
consider this a downside, the worst thing that anybody could say is
that I was gay and if somebody said that I guess they would be
wrong,” Franco said.
The 32-year-old Franco, who is expected
to reprise his role of artist Franco on ABC's General Hospital
later this year, added that he'll take on “100 gay roles.”
“I would be happy to play 100 gay
roles as long as they were always good parts,” he said.
Franco has been dating actress Anha
O'Reilly for several years.
Outfest opens Thursday and runs
for ten days. Festival
organizers will also honor actress Jane Lynch for her LGBT advocacy.