The Boys In The Band Ending, Explained: Was Alan Secretly Gay?

Still from The Boys in the Band, Image Source: Netflix

Netflix’s ‘The Boys in the Band’ is centered around the gay culture of the 60s, following the themes of self-loathing, closeted sexuality, conflicts raised by internalized homophobia, etc. The story revolves around a birthday celebration in which some gay men get together in a party. With an all-star cast highlighting major issues, the movie is must watch for both its entertainment value and heart-breaking realizations. If you haven’t watched the movie yet, head over to Netflix, and in case you have, continue reading to get an answer to the lingering question: Is Alan Gay?

The Boys in the Band: Plot Summary

The show ‘The Boys in the Band’ is set in 1968 and takes place on Harold’s birthday, which means the entire story takes place on a single day. As Michael (Jim Parsons) preps for the party, Donald (Matt Bomer), his partner, comes over to his house. However, their relationship status is not exactly set. The plot sets up its pace when Michael receives a call from his school friend, Alan (Brian Hutchison), who decides to join them and discuss something important. Since Alan doesn’t know that Michael and his five other friends are gay, he even tries to push the pre-planned party to the next day. 

Is Alan Gay?

In ‘The Boys in the Band’ one of the things that the film does not resolve clearly is the nature of Alan’s sexuality. Alan tells Michael that he has to be elsewhere, but he arrives at the party and doesn’t leave even when he feels troubled by the people there. He leaves when he talks to his wife again after getting some sense of clarity. It is revealed that Alan called Michael because he was distressed as he had decided to divorce his wife, but by the time of their second phone call, he had decided to call the plan of divorcing her off completely. 

It is hinted that Alan wanted to come to the party because of Michael’s feelings. Michael acts as if he has a crush on Alan, and act as if Alan is the person he would call in the party game he had devised. It is clear that Harold (Zachary Quinto) knows Michael much better than anyone else. Michael struggles to keep up the facade of being a straight person, constantly worried about Emory’s (Robin de Jesús) flamboyance. The way Michael lashes out at Alan about Justin seemed much more personal to him, as he was heartbroken when he realized that Alan didn’t actually call Justin, but his wife. Much unlike what Michael assumed, Alan didn’t come out of the closet only to get back right into it.

We later learn that Michael was in love with Alan, and when Justin told him that they’d had sex, Michael thought that Alan was gay as well. It turns out that Justin lied about his entire sexual relationship with Alan. As time passed, Alan continued to be a heterosexual, and a heartbroken Michael moved on, but he was unable to love anyone else the same way.

However, some subtle instances do hint us towards Alan’s closeted life, like him finding Hank attractive (something that would be weird for a straight man, especially in the 60s). Even though he acts in a very distasteful manner around the gay men, he does not leave the party. When Emory insinuates that he is gay, Alan blasts off, which may be an indication of his internalized homophobia, self-loathing, etc. But then again, maybe it just indicates that Alan is a mean person. Apart from these things, there are no absolute proofs regarding Alan’s sexual orientation.

The Ending

The party ends with a downer as every person in the room is forced to face their complicated feelings. Emory’s attempt to profess his love to his high-school crush ends bitterly while Larry and Hank struggle to discuss their complicated relationship. Harold leaves Michael and decides to date Cowboy (Charlie Carver), after telling Michael how sad and pathetic he is. Michael breaks down and decides to go for a walk, asking Donald to turn off the light before leaving.

As the ‘The Boys in the Band’ ends, we find Emory calm Bernard down at a diner, and Larry decides to make things work with Hank. Donald stays back at Michael’s apartment, reading a book. Michael walks out of the church onto the street with an increasing pace that eventually breaks out into a run. 

Where is Michael running to as The Boys in the Band ends?

Still from The Boys in the Band
Image Source: Netflix

An explanation for this could be that since Michael knows that Alan hasn’t left the city yet, he might be trying to catch up with him to confess his feelings for Alan. Perhaps, he is doing this to move on from him. A more reasonable explanation is that maybe Michael has finally broken out of his self-hatred cycle by allowing himself to fall in love with Donald. Maybe, this could be the start of their romance, and a new life for Michael by finding a reason to settle down with someone he truly loves.