Zachary Quinto Signs on to Star with James Franco in Film About ‘Ex-Gay’ Activist Michael Glatze


Back in April we reported that James Franco was set to play Michael Glatze, founder of the (now shuttered) gay twink magazine XY and the short-lived publication Young Gay America who went "ex-gay" and became a poster boy for that movement.

QuintoNow Variety reports that Zachary Quinto and Emma Roberts have signed on to the film:

Quinto will play the former boyfriend of Franco’s character. Roberts is set to reteam with her “Palo Alto” co-star as his girlfriend. Chris Zylka (“The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Piranha 3DD”) is also attached to the film as another past love interest.

The script for “Michael” is based on “My Ex-Gay Friend,” a New York Times Magazine article by Benoit Denizet-Lewis (author of “Travels with Casey”) about Michael Glatze, a Christian minister from Wyoming who was so entrenched in gay culture before rejected his homosexuality, he founded a gay youth magazine. Justin Kelly will direct. Gus van Sant is the executive producer, along with producers James Franco, Vince Jolivette, Michael Mendelsohn, Ron Singer and Scott Reeve.


  1. says

    @Andy: In the U.S. it’s not necessary to have a person’s permission to make a film about them. You may have to get/buy rights to a source, but it’s common to make films about the living–Social Network, The Queen, recent examples.

    Michael Glatze is one mixed-up dude. Will be interesting to see what they do with the crazy.,

  2. Anon1852 says

    Glatze, if you take the time to talk to him, maintains that he is sexually and physically attracted to his wife, but dances around the notion of whether he is attracted to men as being irrelevant due to his being married. He’s very illusive on it, but more or less insists that he is not an “ex-gay” anymore, or that he is not a person living a mock marriage, but instead is genuinely and romantically attracted to his wife now. However, on topics of LGBT equality and dignity he remains somewhat illusive in respect to those, you really have to nag at him to get him to say anything definitive.

    That aside, I think some stories are not worth telling. These people, no matter their conduct or beliefs in the present, should not be lauded and celebrated.

    They ought be forgotten till no one remembers they even existed.

  3. Nick says

    Another vote for ANON1852’s comment.

    I’m sure the movie will be positive with Quinto and Franco onboard; but, inevitably, it will raise Glatze’s stock with the yags (anti-gays).

  4. Anon1852 says

    Promoting these people’s belief systems, even if like in Glatze’s case they reject it now, does no good. It is not something that can be saved or looked it in a manner that will restore it to a virtuous way of life.

    Wrong is wrong, and the vile filth that Glatze embraced and peddled is non-redemptive, no matter what face you put on it.

  5. David From Canada says

    Why bother to make a movie like this, about an ex-gay man with his propaganda. I believe that most people will not be interested in it.
    Instead, make a film about a very positive and worthwhile gay man – society really needs to see something like this.

  6. Javier says

    I still have Glatze’s “Young Gay America” card that he and Benji gave me when they came through on their tour across the U.S.

    I have run a LGBT youth group since 1995 and used their XY youth guide to help talk about sensitive issues like drugs and sex with the youth so I was pleased to have them.

    I did have one problem with them and confirmed it with another youth group leader from a previous stop of their’s – Benji and Michael seemed to think it was okay for them to flirt and make passes at the underage boys they met. The previous leader confirmed they had slept with one of them at the previous stop. I don’t know if anything went down with anyone from my group. I try to teach the youth self-esteem and self-respect so I would hope they would be strong enough to make the right decision and if not, learn from their mistake.

    Regardless, I imagine that

  7. Merv says

    I’m very uncomfortable giving this barely notable twerp the attention he craves. I hope van Sant et al know what they’re doing, and give him the treatment he deserves, within the bounds of defamation laws.

  8. Javier says

    Regardless, I imagine that some of what those two did may have weighed on Michael’s mind and his current situation may be in part, some way to assuage his guilt. I know he says publicly it was because he was afraid of an early death based on his father’s medical history, but I think he was struggling way before that.

  9. MickyFlip says

    It depends on how the story goes. But I have a feeling if Van Sant, Franco, Quinto et al are on board for this film. They obviously have a reason to be compelled to tell this story. Does anybody know how the article this film is based on portrayed Mr. Glatze? In fact, is the article online?

  10. MickyFlip says

    I just read the article. A brilliant piece too. I highly suggest everyone read it. Anyways, if this film is actually based on the article. Then I’m looking forward to this film. It sounds like a film that will possibly delve into what triggered Glatze to renounce himself. It’s sad, really. I kept getting a sense from the article that he somehow broke inside. And Glatze is the only one who knows what it is.

  11. Adam Rogierno says

    I have a bad feeling about this. Yes, Gus Van Sant and Quinto are gay. But Van Sant could very well try to be “defiant” and “unpredictable” by doing a positive ex-gay piece. He would not be above hurting gay people in order to boost his own standing. And Franco uses homosexual themes like a joke, so he would be on board for a pro-ex-gay film.

    Glatze identified as “queer” and it is not widely discussed that quite a few of these rabidly anti-gay “ex gays” previously identified as “radical queers.” Of course, the entire ex-gay population numbers only a few hundred and almost none of them claim that they are actually straight. Only a few dozen people on Earth actually claim to have gone from gay to straight. And of those people, quite a few were previously “queer.” I think this is relevant because “queer” ideology: 1) is highly judgmental and moralistic, 2) has tenets which parallel those of the anti-gay Christian Right, and 3) insists that sexual orientation is a social construct and thus changeable.

    Thus, a self-identified queer might well be more susceptible to this phenomenon than a happy self-identified gay man or lesbian.

  12. Adam Rogierno says

    Javier, are you sure? Gay youth groups often include people up to their early 20s. The idea is that some areas are so isolated and it is so hard for young gay people to connect and make friends (esp. pre- internet), the group doesn’t want to throw people out just because they turn 18. So often you can be a member when you are 19 up to maybe 22 or 23. So maybe they were hitting on an older person?

  13. EchtKultig says

    I’m trying to think how best to characterize my concern with this. The point here is titillate with the liminality of modern day sexual politics and LGBT advancement – Glatze serving an a foil, an inversion, of our political progress. But once again there’s a subtle double standard at work. No one would hail as potentially serious art – and none of these names signing up for – a pseudo-documentary about, say, an African American former civil rights activist who now believes that all affirmative action should be stopped, housing discrimination allowed again, and inter-racial marriage outlawed. Who says very ugly things like “Africans are closer to apes”. It would just seem an utterly bizarre and rather pointless exercise in absurdist alternative-history. I’m sure these people involved think they are somehow doing the right thing, or at least an artistically justifiable thing to do, but I think they are still inadvertantly exploiting the ambiguity that mainstream America feels about homosex. (I phrase it specifically that way, because, obviously, this story would also not be as interesting to people if it were about a lesbian) There’s a risk of straight people reading Glatze as “well, if I were like him, I’d change myself to”…and that being one of the attractions of the film for the general public. And of course, since he’s not going to be involved it can’t really be _about_ his inner life, in any authentic way. (and even if he were involved, his understanding of his motives could well be clouded by undiagnosed mental illness) His ex-boyfriend might think he knew him, but he obviously didn’t. And way to point this out is to say…nobody, unfortunately, is making mainstream films about the _many, many_ FORMER ex-gay activists who now realize the utter folly of their past convictions.
    Not surprised Van Sant is involved, as he has lucratively mined this particular strain of societal discomfort and schadenfreude before.

  14. says

    There’s a contrarian reflex among certain gay artists (as well as mainstream media) that what regularly occurs in LGBT life is uncool and uninteresting on the face of it, no matter how originally you might treat it on film, stage, or page; and what is exceptional or counter to the norm has not just edge but inherent worth. These guys have every right to do this story, of course, even if their interest is notional. But it does contribute to a subtle denigration of LGBT lives as they are lived.

  15. EchtKultig says

    Well said David. And while black people who hate other black people would be out of the question, LGBT people who hate other LGBT people is still seen as “fair game” for directors trying to be edgy.

  16. EchtKultig says

    BTW – Franco may be a good actor (I’m not sure really, I haven’t seen many of his films) but it’s hard to imagine him properly conveying what I suspect is Glatze’s physical personae. Tall, wooden, awkward. Once again, a case of idiotic vanity casting.

  17. ppp says

    I don’t understand why they pick up this guy’s story instead of Alan Chambers’s. Not only will it serve positive image, but also his story is also ex-gay and significant.

  18. ppp says

    I am more aware the aftermath reaction and ripple effect to general Americans and closeted teens. This is not the ” right ear” to talk about e-gay since we are currently in cultural wars, how come can gays and closeted one assist our enemies? Do they give up their word and shield to our enemy in order to gain profit? I feel this is so silly.

  19. ppp says

    Of course they are only interested in gaining their profit and fame, but for someone who is currently in the front line , this movie will both demoralize our allies and agitate our enemies.

  20. Merv says

    @PPP – There hasn’t been a KKK movie recently, but there was one 100 years ago. It was one of the most popular and infamous movies of all time — Birth of a Nation — and it changed the course of history, reviving the KKK and dramatically worsening race relations. Let’s hope this movie doesn’t do something similar.

  21. JCF says

    [FWIW, I ID as “queer”—I’d need too many letters otherwise!—but I don’t think sexual orientation is a construct.]

    Echo the idea that this is a dubious project (unless *highly* fictionalized—possibly). Give Glatze the person “the obscurity he so richly deserves”.

  22. Mary says

    More from the article:
    “This isn’t just a story about an ‘ex-gay,’” Kelly said. “It’s actually a very relatable story about the power of belief and the desire to belong.”

    Added Denizet-Lewis: “I’m excited that everyone involved in this project is intent on telling a story that captures the full breadth of Michael’s unusual life, from the inspiring gay leader I knew when I was young to the Christian pastor he is today.”

    I do fear this movie is not really going to focus on the pain involved in being ex-gay, if it will include it at all. It just really sounds like it’s going for a very neutral evasive (bad) tone, like ‘oh well, this may be a misinformed and bad decision, but if that’s what he thinks makes him happy that’s his right’.

    If so, that would really downplay all the shame and homophobia that would lead a gay person to think that denying themselves is what makes them happy, those should never be seen as tolerable motivations.

    And if they are keeping the focus mostly on Michael Glatze, portraying him as sympathetic or interesting, it would be ignoring the important bigger picture this movie is a part of. The actively homophobic harm of the ex-gay movement for real people, how finally here and there people are starting to talk about banning ex-gay ‘therapy’ for minors and we don’t need this movie to increase support for being ex-gay as if this is just a personal choice with no bad consequences for anyone else.

    As much as having people lack support for the idea of being ex-gay may make some ex-gay people feel bad about their personal choices, this lifestyle and it’s ideas are homophobic and harmful and not something anyone needs to support, or excuse, or accept, or encourage. Definitely not a movie with some rather big names attached to it, including gay celebrities.

    I may be overreacting a little, we don’t know that much about this project yet, but this just sounds kind of bad. I hope I’m wrong.

  23. MickyFlip says

    So all those against this film… Are you saying we should ignore the fact that this actually happened? Just pretend Michael Glatze doesn’t exist? I want to know what went wrong. What happened that would cause someone to be a staunch supporter of our cause. Point in fact, was leading the cause and believed it so deeply… What happened to make him change. Because if it’s happened before. It will def happen again.

    I have a feeling this film, if done properly as stated by the article, could actually be amazing. Idk why but I feel for this Glatze. I really do. And I got a sense that something happened that we only have a piece of that puzzle that we failed to see. And I want to know… what changed. I understand people change all the time. I’ve seen it myself twice already. Why the change? What happened? Where did we go wrong? Was it something we did?

  24. Gigi says

    Glatze is a self-loathing piece of christianist who could be the poster boy for CHRISTIAN INDOCTRINATION. I’ve watched several interviews with him and he took the anti-gay bait offered up to him from his “church” hook, line and sinker. His ex is well rid of him.

  25. says

    Every time some ex-gay poseur speaks his mind, it’s only to reassure himself (and his family) that all the lies he tells are true. Anyone who’s done any form of outreach with LGBT youth, or dealing with families who struggle with understanding and accepting their LGBT kids, knows how dangerous the ex-gay movements are, as well as the equally-harmful “just be celibate” stances are (as personified by that vapid Aryan who made that asinine youtube video a few weeks ago, then promptly shut the f**k up about everything when he realized his bluff had been called).

    And both parties wilfully ignore the truth – that they adopt their stances of celibacy and gay-to-straight-conversion to appease family and religion – the weak of will and mind give in to those pressures. And when you call it out *you* instead get called a bully for “not respecting a different opinion” or are told that “you’re threatened by anything that isn’t lock-step with Big Gay Inc” or some other intellectually-false nonsense.

    nuance and specifics. there are no ex-gays. there may be bisexuals who found a woman they connect with. there are many homosexuals who’s determination to live a lie, and have that lie publicly validated, becomes their raison d’être.

    it’s like that group, PFOX – parents and friends of ex-gays. who are they? they’re the REASON those homosexuals pretend to not be gay anymore. they’re the reason they don’t want to be gay. they’re the thumpers of bibles, withholders of love, the people who say “well, remember, you’ll go to Hell if you act on it….”

    and they have bloody, bloody hands.

    a younger buddy of mine has been struggling for years to unlearn all that his ultra-conservative religious family has “taught” him about being gay – homeschooled, brainwashed – the guy still thinks that AIDS is something that just happens ‘when two gay people have sex’ – because that’s what he’s been taught his entire life. he has to not just unlearn everything, he has to learn that his family is not just full of s**t – but full of prejudice; not an easy thing for a young person to process. when that Grady Smith video came out a few weeks ago, his family flooded him again with messages of “see? you’ll go to hell. why can’t you be like this guy?” my friend took 10 steps back and went into a horrible spiral of sadness, that i’d not seen him in for years.

    were these worthless cowardly apologists silent with their lies and self-hate i’d leave them to it – but they rarely are. they spread their lies, and hate, to validate their own B.S. and they harm others with it.

    should this film be made, screw “being fair” – there is no fair when it comes to outright liars. shame him, it’s the only angle. it’s all about shame. hold the mirror up, artists. that’s your job.

  26. Chrip says

    I’ve chatted with Michael some months ago and he seems to be changing his tune. He’s no longer the completely hateful man he was 7 years ago. He also parted ways with fundamentalist Christians, bashing doctrines like the Rapture and Christian Zionism (which are really popular in the WND crowd)

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