(Mostly because I need to not watch it for the nine billionth time right now. I need to go to bed. Sir Elton help me.)
I think what I like so much about Rocketman is how unapologetic it is in its earnestness. In its strange, campy, sparkly sincerity. When the vision of baby-Reggie asks rehab-Elton “When are you going to hug me?” near the end… Like, that moment shouldn’t work, right? It’s too on-the-nose, too obvious.
But I WEEP EVERY SINGLE TIME.
So, why? Why did I watch this movie two times in one day over Thanksgiving last year? Why was it the movie I asked my parents to watch on my 31st birthday? Why is it the movie I’m probably going to watch tomorrow night?
Honestly, I think I’m in it for the ending “Where Is He Now?” montage most of all.
When I applied to grad school (HAVE I BEEN ACCEPTED YET?), I wrote a lot about wanting very much to create more stories of queer joy in the world. I think part of my long, slow journey to accepting my own queerness came from feeling like being queer meant my life would automatically be some kind of great tragedy. Because that’s what I’d seen in the few movies and television shows that bothered representing queer people anyway, right? If I wanted to be happy, if I wanted to be “loved properly” as Rocketman puts it… I had to be straight.
So, I was. I thought. For 30 years. It just didn’t seem worth questioning.
(You introduced me to Elton. I am so sorry.)
In Rocketman, Elton gets called out for being gay and realizes he has to break up with his girlfriend with an “Oh, fuck.” And REG, I GET IT. Somebody else called me out about it before I recognized it myself, too. WE ARE THE SAME TEACH ME HOW TO DRESS PLEASE?
There’s a line in Rocketman about killing the person you were born to me in order to become the person you want to be. And my favorite time I’ve heard that line was when I was drunk on whiskey at Adam, Vinnie, and Jake’s house and Gabi wordlessly put her arms around me while I sobbed. I don’t have any specifically homicidal intentions against Danielle Elise, but she is not who I want to be. I want to be some sparkly, fabulous rock star, though my instrument is these nerd-words instead of a piano.
At the end of Rocketman, while “I’m Still Standing” plays on, we learn that Elton has stayed sober and is finally “loved properly.” And I watch that ending montage like a lullaby. Like a promise that we will be okay. That I will be okay. That we can make mistakes and we can be loud and large in our despair and our pain and that we can still be lovable at the end of it all. That we are not too inconvenient or burdensome to love.
(This movie fucking rules and I will not apologize.)
Being able to name who you are… finding love even when you feel you might not be able to stand it… fucking rocking a silk cravat in some of those earlier scenes… Rocketman really has become my gay fairy tale, my bedtime story during a time when I am so desperate to figure out who I am. Watching Elton figure out who he is gives me hope, makes me feel proud of this community to which I didn’t know I was allowed to belong.
Universe willing, I have a ticket to see Sir Elton in February of 2022 in Chicago. I can’t wait to see who Daniel Elton is by then. I hope he finds a silk cravat to wear to the concert.
I hope he sings along to “Tiny Dancer” in a voice that finally sounds like his.