Twenty years ago the movie “The Birdcage” was released in theaters across the country, and my life was forever changed. I remember going to this movie with my mother in Little Rock, Arkansas, and people gasping loudly when one of the drag queens ripped off her shirt to change clothes. It took most people in the theater a second to figure out that this was slightly less scandalous as the actor was actually a man. I remember laughing very hard at everything, but also wanting desperately to be Nathan Lane (to be fair, I still want to be Nathan Lane) because he was having all the fun. As an obviously gay 14 year-old, seeing a movie depict two gay parents as role-models was really groundbreaking.
The movie does have some issues, particularly given how much the world has changed in 20 years, but in many ways it shows just how far we’ve come. Even back in 1996, audiences could feel for Albert (Nathan Lane’s character) when is asked to leave to avoid causing a scene. Nowadays that kind of thing seems insane, because gay parents are more common. However, as problematic as some of the stuff in the movie may be, I don’t think that the movie was ever intended to depict the quintessential LGBT life. I think it was mainly designed to entertain, and while there are things that might not be perfect about it, it was and will always be a movie close to my heart.