Dear Jesse

on June 26, 1998 by Judd Hollander
Tim Kirkman, a gay filmmaker from North Carolina, paints a fascinating, semi-autobiographical picture as he examines the political longevity of Jesse Helms, a Senator from Kirkman's home state since 1972, and probably the most outspoken anti-homosexual in the country. The film's impact comes not only from a surprisingly balanced look at Helms, but from the filmmaker's own story, as Kirkman explains the effect the Senator's anti-gay stance had on his coming to terms with his own sexuality.
   To his credit, Kirkman never tries to judge Helms. Rather, he lets archival footage and some very telling interviews speak for him. The result is a poignant tale which shows, with delicious irony, that the lives of both men are not as different from each other as one would imagine. Just as important, "Dear Jesse," which is subtitled "A Movie About Truth, Justice and the American Gay," shows that attitudes are changing over time. Narrated, directed and written by Tim Kirkman. Produced by Mary Beth Mann. A Cowboy Booking International Release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 85 min.
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