“HAVE WE MET BEFORE”?— Gay Hookup Culture


Gay Hookup Culture

Amos Lassen

“Have We Met Before” is a new docudrama about gay hookup culture from the 1970s until now. We get a crash course in cruising, from public restroom “cottaging” that offered closeted men an outlet to explore their heavily-guarded sexuality, to the rise of apps like Grindr and Scruff that now dominate the hookup landscape.

The story revolves around two gay men living in London played by Pierre Emo and Stanton Plummer Cambridge. While their characters remain the same age throughout the film, they find one another across several decades using the hookup style of the day.

Our visual story follows Alfie and Ron through the ages, two gay men living in London who are just trying to find the next connection in the ever-changing society around them. 

Stylistically, the film will use the same pair of actors in each era, though they will not age. They will become a familiar canvas of “eternal lovers”, which will further exaggerate changes in fashion, hairstyles, and socio-sexual behavior.

Interjected with the acted scenes are interviews with real-life gay men between the ages of 19 and 73, giving commentary and context on how gay sex culture adapted and changed over the course of half a century.

Through combining real documentary interviews with a freshly created cinematic narrative, this is something new and engaging which is simultaneously authentic and poetic. 

The methods of meeting may have evolved, but the essential need is the same – physical contact. Whilst this is a niche subject, it raises a broader question about connectedness and connectivity: does the comparable ease at which digital connections can be made help fulfil us, or is an IRL face-to-face experience sacrosanct? The question that remains is, Has the digital age really changed anything? 

 The film was broadcast on BBC 4 last month but we have no word yet on when and how American audiences can watch.

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