Gay man's road to fatherhood

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Wednesday August 1, 2018
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Asian filmmaker Quentin Lee has worked independently in Hollywood since 1993. Best-known for the gay-themed crime thriller "Ethan Mao" (2004), Lee has also produced several horror films that have a queer twist. In 1997 he co-directed "Shopping for Fangs," a chiller about a sexually confused young man who might be a werewolf. More recently he directed the horror film "The Unbidden" (2016), among his many other projects.

Lee loves everything about working in the film industry. He generally casts Asian actors in leading roles because he feels that visibility is important. He says that too often Asian characters are pushed into the background of mainstream films.

Openly gay, Lee is living his dream, though he's often felt that something was missing from his life. A single guy, Lee wanted a child, a goal he achieved through surrogacy. In 2017 he chronicled his journey to fatherhood in "Gay Hollywood Dad," a six-episode web series. Now "Gay Hollywood Dad" has become Lee's latest film. A feature-length version of the series premiered at the New York Asian American International Film Festival on Thurs., Aug. 2. It debuts nationally on Amazon Instant Video on Fri., Aug. 3.

It's a straightforward film that begins with Lee rushing to the hospital room where his son is about to be born. Both the surrogate mom and her mother agreed to participate in the film. The birth mom speaks eloquently regarding her feelings about carrying a child for nine months, then having to give him up because the child was never hers.

Lee names his son Casper. After they return home to Los Angeles, he begins the daunting responsibility of being a single dad while juggling a busy film career. Lee introduces Casper to his friends and brings Casper home to Hong Kong, where most of the family is. Viewers also see Lee shooting his latest project, the short film "On Halloween," in which Casper makes a cameo. The little tyke even accompanies his dad to a film festival in San Diego.

In spite of his busy schedule, Lee is a very attentive dad. He puts Casper's needs above all. The film becomes a fascinating look into the day-to-day lives of father and son, though there are a few unanswered questions. When Lee plans a party so his friends can meet Casper, Lee's close friend Dorian fails to show up. Lee is noticeably hurt by this slight, yet we're never told how this incident affects their friendship.

The film also offers no insight into Lee's personal life beyond Casper. Throughout the film he refers to himself as a gay Hollywood dad, yet no mention is made of whether or not he dates. How will raising Casper affect Lee's future dating prospects?

Shot on video with hand-held cameras in real time, the film's images are shaky, and the sound is often difficult to hear. In spite of these flaws, "Gay Hollywood Dad" is worth watching if you're a gay parent or want to be one. Raising a child is an enormous if richly rewarding responsibility. Here is a textbook illustration of what prospective parents can expect.