“Dante Di Loreto, who is the head of Fremantle, the studio, said, ‘Let’s make the sex scenes so hot that straight men watching them will want to have gay sex.’ That hasn’t happened yet,” Nyswaner says, laughing. “I wouldn’t mind it if it did.”

It’s a long way from the resistance Nyswaner encountered early in his career. He recalls an incident in 1980, studying film at Columbia, in which he was reprimanded for proposing a script with queer content. “I had submitted an assignment using a couple of gay characters, literally just talking about the desire that one man had for another man,” Nyswaner says. “And [this professor] was really upset by that and he called me into his office and everything. He literally suggested maybe I shouldn’t be a screenwriter.”

Nyswaner has been working in Hollywood since the early ‘80s and has seen the fight for representation ebb and flow. In the mid ‘80s, then president of production for Fox, Scott Rudin, reached out to him and asked, “What would you think about writing a script about a gay teenager?”

“It was in the era of the John Hughes movies like Pretty in Pink,” Nyswaner says. He pitched a script about a gay teenager called The Pink Boy. “He had a braid of hair that was dyed pink, and he wore pink Converse high tops, called Converse All Stars,” he says. The studio purchased the script but later decided not to move forward with it.

A few years later, in 1990, he found himself pitching another gay script—this time, it was with Jonathan Demme, and it was for the concept that would become Philadelphia. As Nyswaner remembers it, the producer Marc Platt, who was with Orion Pictures then before moving to TriStar, told them: “I know maybe 10 projects in development right now about AIDS. They all have heterosexual main characters, like people who have gone through blood transfusions, et cetera, et cetera.” Nyswaner recalls him saying. “That’s immoral. We are going to make the movie about AIDS that should be made.’”

Later, they were summoned to the office of TriStar chairman Mike Medavoy under the guise of additional notes. “I’m probably going to choke up when I tell you this,” Nyswaner tells me. “He said, ‘I go to Palm Springs two or three times a month. There’s a sculptor there, I’ve been collecting his work. He’s a genius and he’s dying. The world is going to lose a great human being and a great artist—that’s wrong.” Nyswaner catches his breath. “And your movie has to tell the world that that’s wrong. That’s your note. Get out of my office.’”

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