Director. Hamilton-based Selway was the queer-friendly McMaster student who produced a pioneering short fiction, unique for its time, that was distributed by the CFMDC within the gay liberation movement circuit in the late seventies but that has now vanished, A Son of the Family (1977, 29). Based on the true coming out story of Selway’s high school best friend, and developed in consultation with another gay friend who had fled to Montreal, the film’s official catalogue description read: “A dramatic account of several crucial months in the life of Mike Norris, a young homosexual. Mike’s ‘coming out’ and departure from family and girl friend are his first steps in asserting his right to be gay outside the gay milieu. The drama unfolds as he faces new social and employment trials.” Seeing the film for the first time in 2003-2004, I am impressed with how well Son of the Family holds up, perceptively shot in 16mm black and white by queer-friendly producer-cameraman James Aquila with a strong sense of place (winter in Hamilton!). Mike’s relationships with his male and female support networks around him, and even with the blasé Torontonian who provides him with his first amour and then dumps him, are subtly delineated.The film ends with an unexpected counter-stereotype twist plus a witty ideological parting shot: a window display of mannequins mechanically enacting the heteropatriarchal institution of marriage.
Hamilton , ON