Rock Hudson’s boyfriends open up in new HBO documentary

Rock Hudson
Image: courtesy of HBO

HBO has released a trailer for new documentary Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed, which explores the the gay Hollywood heartthrob’s double life, death and legacy.

Rock Hudson was one of Hollywood’s most celebrated leading men of the 1950’s and ‘60’s, and an icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

He was a number one box-office superstar and got an Oscar nod for Giant, starring opposite Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean.

The new documentary explores the story of a man living a double life, one whose public persona was carefully manufactured and maintained by the studio system.

But at the same time, Rock kept a potentially career-ending secret that he was privately living as a gay man.

All That Heaven Allowed features interviews from Hudson’s past partners, colleagues, and close friends.

In the trailer, an ex-partner recalls, “We were ordered never to have our picture taken together, because somebody would know that we were gay.”

The film will also cover the actor’s July 1985 announcement he had AIDS. Rock died at age 59 on October 2, 1985.

“Nearly four years into the AIDS pandemic, Hudson’s death was a wakeup call for the public and helped elevate serious discussions of the treatment of HIV and AIDS into the mainstream, forcing a reckoning both socially and politically,” the film’s synopsis states.

‘Right there under everyone’s noses’

But the film’s director Stephen Kijak said he was determined not to frame the actor’s life as a tragedy.

“It wasn’t that long ago when it was really hard to be gay. Publicly, your life would be ruined,” he told the New York Times.

But Rock “was having this kind of great rampant, randy gay sex life right there under everyone’s noses, but seemingly living without a care,” he said.

“There wasn’t the kind of angsty, oh-I-wish-I-could-just-be-an-out-gay-man,” Kijak said.

“It was a generation that I don’t think considered that to be an option. Or even something that they would want.”

Personal photo with Rock Hudson
Image: courtesy of HBO

Kijak said Hudson ended up “being culturally, politically and socially a catalyst” in ways often overlooked today.

“He’s faded away. Who were the big marquee names from the ’50s who everybody knows?” Kijak said.

“It’s Marilyn Monroe. It’s James Dean. If anything, he is probably remembered for having died of AIDS in the ’80s.”

Friends, lovers and colleagues share Rock Hudson’s story

But Kijak said All That Heaven Allowed features “a short stack of gay men who were in his life.”

“Either lovers, playmates, a wing man, a co-star, a best pal. People he revealed himself to,” he said.

“An arc of gay men that takes you from pre-Stonewall, pre-gay liberation to the other side of the Aids crisis.

“It’s Rock’s life that could have been [seen] through the lens of these guys.”

Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed starts streaming in the US later this month, with an Australian release date TBA.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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