I’m a bit late in the game writing about this year’s Pixar movie, Luca, but better late than never! With my love for brotherhood as portrayed in media, I had to write about this movie. Luca greatly encouraged me for its depictions of male friendship, though it also elicited some LGBT+ controversy as well as surprisingly difficult emotions internally.

To sum up the movie’s plot: Luca is a young sea monster who lives under the ocean with his parents, and he grows tired of his life herding fish. Disobeying his parents, he leaps above water to dry land, to the world of humans where he takes human form. There Luca meets a fellow sea monster-turned-human named Alberto, and they immediately form a friendship.

Alberto is extremely outgoing and adventure-seeking while Luca is much more timid and a bit of a scaredy-cat. Despite their different personalities, they bond over a shared curiosity for the human world — most notably, the Vespa scooter and the possibilities it signifies. Alberto teaches Luca to break out of his shell and find courage, becoming the brother Luca needed and never had.

Eventually, Luca and Alberto venture into the nearby human town to find a Vespa. There they befriend a girl named Giulia who tells them about entering a triathlon where they can win a Vespa as the grand prize. In their efforts to join the race, they also fight bullies and ultimately reveal their true identities as sea monsters to the fearful villagers. Alberto also grows jealous of Luca’s friendship with Giulia and his budding desire to learn and attend human school.

Luca is a less complex Pixar movie in many ways; it’s not exactly one that delves into the meaning of life like Soul brilliantly did.

At its core, Luca is simply about a friendship between two boys. It was refreshing to see a deep, loving friendship between boys; so few movies really show this.

This isn’t a dumb, surface-level “bromance” that every bad rom-com plays up. Luca’s and Alberto’s friendship is serious; they truly love and care for each other. In a culture obsessed with romantic relationships, this was wonderful to see.

But Luca has also brought some controversy. Some have accused Luca of queerbaiting — that is, hinting at or even promising LGBT+ representation, only not to deliver for fear of the reaction.

Queerbaiting surrounded the last Star Wars movie, wherein the first gay characters of the franchise were promised before release, only for two characters to kiss in the background, an easy miss. Apparently, this move was made to avoid too much controversy with viewers in China.

For some, Luca clearly depicted a gay relationship between Luca and Alberto but cowered in showing their romantic relationship. Others say that even if Luca and Alberto weren’t explicitly gay, their backgrounds as close friends while hiding their true identities as sea monsters is an allegory for the LGBT+ experience.

Once again this shows how our culture just loves to sexualize everything, and how a deep, nonsexual relationship between two boys is incomprehensible.

Luca‘s director, Enrico Casarosa, has stated that because Luca and Alberto are prepubescent, their friendship cannot be sexual. He has also described their friendship as based on his own childhood best friend.

If people want to interpret Luca as a gay allegory wherein two boys mask part of their identities, I say that’s totally fine. Heck, I can relate to that.

However, gay people do not hold a monopoly on this storyline of hiding something of one’s self from a disapproving society. Frankly, this is a theme for literally anyone.

Many people hide something of themselves out of cultural fear: this can relate to ethnicity, religious beliefs, even belief in Bigfoot.

While I think Luca‘s theme is a universal one open to all human interpretations, I really am against interpreting this same-sex friendship as strictly gay. This view damages younger boys by reinforcing the toxic belief that intimacy between two people of the same sex is “strictly gay.” Straight boys may grow up to think: Oh, only gay people do that. I’m straight, so I shouldn’t have a similar relationship with another boy.

Anyway, as much as I love Luca, another aspect of the film made it admittedly difficult for me to watch — in sort of a good way, I suppose.

Luca put me in a state of longing, I wish I’d had a relationship like Luca’s and Alberto’s growing up. More specifically, I wish I’d had an Alberto in boyhood.

I recently wrote about how my childhood friendships weren’t the most ideal. I was and am very much like Luca from the start of the movie: timid, shy, sheltered, and often scared of taking chances.

If only I’d had a big brother figure like Alberto, or like the director’s real life best friend. How different would I be now? Would I be more self-confident? Would I have had more of my emotional needs met? Heck, would I even still be sexually attracted to men?

It’s useless speculating, because what’s done is done. We still live in a supposedly sexually liberated culture, yet one that’s also prudish and reactionary to close male friendships.

But having movies like Luca with a beautiful friendship between two boys gives me much hope.

One last Luca clip I’ll share does spoil the ending. But I found this to be a beautiful way to end things. I’m not crying, you are!

What did you think of Luca? Did you have any childhood friendships as depicted in the movie, or did Luca leave you with longing?

  • Eugene, thanks for sharing your perspective on Luca. I haven’t seen it yet but now I want to. What you said here is exactly my story as well…

    Luca put me in a state of longing, I wish I’d had a relationship like Luca’s and Alberto’s growing up. More specifically, I wish I’d had an Alberto in boyhood.

    I really miss having this kind of intimacy with someone of my own gender. Something holy and chaste and yet emotionally deep and affectionate in a pure way. Where do we find the guys who are not afraid of this type of friendship? Where are the David and Jonathan type friendships to be found? God had blessed those and yet American male culture has so perverted what God intended. Father, help us.

    • Thank you, John! Yeah sadly the only place I’ve been able to find this sort of friendship is with SSA guys in my own community here of YOB. I know there are straight guys out there who are open to this but they are a needle in a haystack.

  • I loved Luca precisely because it seemed to depict friendship in a very meaningful way without making it “gay.” It annoys me that people made it as such. I DO find more of an allegory for an LGBT experience with the part of about being fish and hiding that, but not their relationship. It speaks to something I felt at church a while back. I figured that MOST people probably have something they’re hiding or do not talk about at church. It’s not just a gay/SSA thing.

  • Hi! This is my first time commenting here. I’ve found about this site some weeks ago and have been reading the new blog posts since.
    First I’d like to say thank you guys for creating and mantaining a place like this, I’m sure it’s helpful for so many people out there, myself included.
    Well I decided to comment in this blog post specifically because it touches on something I have many doubts about: Love between two people of the same sex.
    You see, I’m SSA and I keep asking myself if loving another person of the same sex is sinful. When I say love I mean it in a very “couple like” way, but without anything involving sex, that is, that deep, strong emotional bond is there, there is just not anything sexual. Is this type of bond, ot this way of feeling towards another person of the same sex, sinful?
    I keep catching myself desiring this bond quite often. Someone that I would want to spend a whole lot of time with, that I would care for, love and protect. Someone I would feel connected to in a special way.
    What do you think?
    I’m sorry for all this text and thanks for the blogpost!

    • Thank you Matheus! I’m glad you felt comfortable to jump in and join the discussion! I can give you my sincerest belief that love between people of the same sex is not sinful. If its lustful in nature and if the relationship is sexual in nature then yes it would be sinful in that regard. After all, a father deeply loving his son is not automatically assumed to be incest is it? I also think many straight men deeply emotionally love their guy friends though I think they suppress or don’t admit it. Hope that helps.

      • Yeah that’s what I was thinking. I was (kinda still am) afraid that this bond could be sinful because I see it almost as (if not just as) a romance, hence the “couple like” bit, but of course without anything lustful and/or sexual, just the emotional part.
        Thanks for your reply Eugene. I appreciate it.

  • Another great article, Eugene! I haven’t even seen Luca yet (and I intend to, though I’m in no hurry), but I was still enraged when I heard idiots on Twitter and other online cesspits trying to label it as a ‘queer’ film. My thoughts were just, “Gosh, can’t platonic love between two guys exist for just two seconds without the slash fiction gang appropriating it for their own purposes!?”. I even made a joke on my Twitter account asking people what punishment they would give to people who think that Luca is a gay movie. I think I was overreacting but I don’t know, it just triggered something inside of me without even watching it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with two boys having a romantic sort of relationship but it’s extremely harmful for people to perpetuate the myth that genuine platonic love between men isn’t a thing and that two guys will either be lovers or drinking buddies with a very shallow connection. That attitude prevents boys from developing these vital connections with other boys, and that leaves entire generations of men relationally stunted.

    Unlike you, the good Lawd hath blessed me with many amazing friendships with boys all throughout my youth, but for some time I was really afraid of being close with another boy because the belief that “that’s gay” got hammered into me at a young age. When I was about nine I befriended a boy who was unpopular for some reason out of pity for him, and we became somewhat close. In order to attack this boy, the other boys in my class said that we were “gay together” and that we were dating. That was also the age when I was discovering my SSA. That whole experience troubled me, and it gave me a mighty fear of going through accusations of being gay so I avoided closeness with other boys. Fast forward to when I was thirteen, a new boy moved to my school. We soon became friends, and I noticed that unlike my other friends he was extremely willing to share physical touch with me. He would hug me, or tackle me when we were in the field, or try to hold hands with me, or challenge me to wrestling matches, stuff like that. At first I was furitive about doing all that with him because I was still terrified of people thinking I was gay, but he continued and in the end I acquiesced to it. I then fell head-over-heels in love with him, and the beginning of the end of our friendship was when I told him that I liked him when we were both fourteen. Despite occasionally flirting with me, he didn’t appreciate me confessing my unyeilding passion for him and our friendship would slowly die over the following months. Looking back, I can see that he was very emotionally manipulative and probably also a narcissist, but I thank him for making me more comfy with sharing a close bond with another boy. That’s all from me.

  • I wish I had a different perspective. I don’t wanna come across as “one of those” people who are sexualizing it, but I had an interesting experience with this movie and I wanna share it

    I’ll be honest, couldn’t get through Luca. I got weird vibes from the promotional art all the way to the first hour of the movie. I think it made me upset because I wanted it to feel to me like what you described; a movie about a precious and intimate friendship between two young boys. Thats’s something that’s very important to me to include in all my writings as well because it needs to be more commonplace, but for some reason it didn’t feel like that to me. I couldn’t shake the feeling of manipulation, nor could I perfectly place it. I consider all my male relationships from childhood to now to be as intimate, and more intimate than the one in this movie, that’s from childhood to last week. So many moments of my life had felt like this movie, and not jut any old moments, the MOST precious moments, and usually when I see those moments portrayed I weep, like moments of Love Simon or Boy Erased, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Spiderman, Tick Tick Boom, Sam and Frodo, Merry and Pipin, and all of those often still fall flat compared to the reality in my life… but something just felt off in this one and I can’t shake it.

    As a boy who constantly flopped around his kitchen in a mermaid costume, dreamt often of being in the open ocean, and spent almost all his time in the water (which, through counseling I’ve found really was a cry for freedom and to not be secret. I would hide my mermaid barbies under the couch and only play with them there) this should have hit something so deep in me, it literally WAS me… but it didn’t, and I just felt myself getting upset because it didn’t. It should have been the movie that I felt represented in like several others have done at this point, and I’m one that gets VERY emotionally invested in every movie I watch. This has led me to believe that it probably was intentionally an analogy for young boys dealing with questions of sexuality, as the ages we are discussing sexuality gets earlier and earlier in the main stream. I of course can’t say for sure, all I know is what I felt and I’ve had to process with myself why I had such an adverse reaction to this movie. I can say confidently that I don’t think it’s due to a sense of longing or reactionary homophobia since again, my relationships all seem to mirror this movie even in like, wild adventures jumping into water vibes, building forts, entering town contests, revealing your identity to everyone. It should have been so much for me, but it wasn’t and I was left feeling that the reality of the relationship presented in the movie felt empty to me, as if the focus was on the wrong part. Flash back to me tearfully running into the airport to get one last hug from my best friend before he leaves and standing on the car until he was completely out of sight; should be a mirror.

    I don’t have any ill feelings if you liked the movie, I wish I could be less negative in this space, but since I really had such a specific reaction I felt I had to come on and share it to offer what happened to me.

    • No worries Christopher, its fine if it didn’t have the same impact on you. Although I guess I’m a little confused as to why? You said it made you feel empty because you yourself have experienced similar relationships yet it didn’t feel like you related to it as much?

      • I related to everything that was happening, but somehow the relationship itself felt off to me. I felt a discomforting check in my spirit. What I’m left with as I try to understand it is that maybe, even though they said it wasn’t, it was made for the side A LGBT public intentionally, but also aimed at children. That’s the only way I can explain the feelings I had towards it. I have only had such overt feelings of discomfort like this over a couple different movies, almost always regarding children, and every time when I have had that check in my spirit it eventually comes out that there was something bad going on like sexual abuse on set or something. Whenever children come into the picture in these conversations that’s usually when I get checks in my spirit like this.

        I don’t wanna be doom and gloom about a kids movie… I just had such a visceral response to it which doesn’t usually happen. I wanted to bring in that perspectives in the comments cuz those are my reasons for feeling it was probably intentionally nefarious.

        But, also, God has been taking me on a journey personally regarding entertainment as a whole, so I recognize my perspective is not everyone’s. Others can watch the movie and enjoy it for what it is. I just felt I couldn’t pass up a chance to talk about it in our community in case there were others that felt the same way about it.

        • I think that makes sense. I personally did not feel that way about the relationship at all. And if the filmmakers stated that it wasn’t meant to be a romantic relationship, then we really must take them at their word. But still, art can have room for personal interpretation and that’s not a bad thing.

  • Hey Eugene, it’s Christmas and wanna wish all you guys at YOB a blessed and joy-filled Christmas. Thanks for all the posts and videos this past year from everyone.

    I haven’t seen Luca so no opinion about the film, but what you said about longings, man, those longings looking back for what can never be just never seem all that helpful or healthy. Looking back to see how far you’ve come? yeah, that can be encouraging. Besides, this whole spiritual journey following Jesus is about looking ahead and longing for what’s true in Christ, that it would be true in us. And sometimes, like at Christmas, having faith that it already is.

    All that stuff in the past, the things you think you missed out on, even the painful stuff you go thru, it’s dealing with it that makes you who you are now. It’s possible to be at peace with your past, not that it was good, but it led to good in you. That’s part of Christmas too, the promise that God redeems all that stuff.

    Hey man, I only know you thru reading your posts & comments, and seeing your art, and y’know what, I think you’re awesome Eugene, not cause you’re perfect but because what God’s working in you is showing thru all the places you’re not. Merry Christmas, a day late.

    • Aw well thank you very much, Alan! A late Merry Christmas to you too. Yeah I know longing for things that should’ve been can be counter productive and one should live in the present and look what’s in front of you. Still, the movie brought those feelings out. I think it also evokes longings for a relationship I had now. I have great friends now, don’t get me wrong. But it would be nice to have an Alberto of sorts that helps me out of my introverted shell.

      • An early Happy New Year’s back atcha! I get it, movies are good at that. When I saw Good Will Hunting, “it’s not your fault” hit deep, still does tbh. All those feelings that get stirred up can become their own kind of shell, kinda opposite the walls we set up when we shut down that damage more than protect.

        I don’t know if this will register with you, I’m not particularly introverted, but when I find myself stuck inside a shell or behind walls, it helps changing things up & moving out along positive lines, be it physical, emotional or spiritual. For me that’d be a road trip or seeing the sunrise at the shore, opening up deeper with friends, or some measure of obedience that needs the cross to make it thru. It doesn’t always get rid of the shell or the walls, but usually it makes enough of a hole in them that I can see new.

        Hey, this is totally outta the blue, but if you ever do any kinda street art you should make it part of your posts sometime.

  • I want to preface my comments by stating they’re not about this post, but others you’ve made previously, including nudity & hugging & for lack of a better word, non-sexual coupling relationships.

    I was fascinated with your messages & comments.

    I respected your viewpoints & sensitivity to adhering to living as a Christian believer, while simultaneously battling SSA issues.

    I would think most bonafide Christian biblical churches who teach correctly homosexuality is a sin, haven’t made any inroads to minister to us with SSA. Consequently, it leaves many feeling lonely, abandoned, misunderstood, etc. Though we have Jesus, not being able to confide with other men who understand this struggle, can be difficult.

    The reality of having sexual urges which can’t be expressed as a now celibate believer is also daunting. Not that I’m completely obsessed with this, but there are times when let’s face it, you get horny & there’s no outlet. This is why I struggle with porn & wanking. I realize this in of itself a major problem with most Christian men for various reasons, but especially those with SSA

    So, it’s refreshing to hear someone’s voice speaking to these issues & what to do about them, while still honoring Jesus.

    As some who has previously been with men before, the void now left is challenging. You long for the emotional & physical intimacy, but can’t indulge anymore, so I think it’s liberating & healthy to talk about it & find out ways where you can fill these needs in a non-sexual way.

    There’s so much more I would want to say, as I long for an outlet to talk with others & hear their thoughts on these topics as well.

    I realize there are many challenges to the cuddling & having these SSA relationships, especially if you’re attracted to one another. And I would think if you somehow did engage w/o crossing any lines, there would be curiosity about their nudity versus the lust. I would like to get to the point where I’m desensitized to looking at another male body, I’m attracted to. I’m probably extremely naive to think I might not get aroused, but maybe in most cases I wouldn’t.

    Sorry if my thoughts aren’t well articulated, I just wanted to thank you for your posts. I tried to respond to this recent post, hopeful I might get a response.

    • Hey Joe! And indeed a response you shall get, though I’m sorry its a touch late. Thank you for sharing a little about yourself and your story. Yeah there are definitely struggles in close relationships with other SSA guys. In my own experience I think the struggle of making the relationship not be dramatic is more difficult than any aspect of keeping the relationship away from lust. In a lot of ways this wouldn’t be so hard if only we just lived in a society where men in general were encouraged towards intimacy with each other. But sadly not. I still hope to have that with a straight man some day.

  • Eugene Heffron

    I’m a 30-something still trying to find my way in the world. Lover of all things creative, I am a drawer with an intuitive mind while also a deep thinker. I can be a person of extreme opposites: one moment a lone wolf, the next a social butterfly; one moment joyful and optimistic, yet sad and melancholic the next. As I came to terms with my SSA I met fellow SSA Christians and formed deep, intimate bonds. I’ve always longed for brotherhood and, at last, I have found it after years of social isolation. I am glad to be part of this community of bloggers and share my stories and struggles, joys and sorrows, dreams and longings.

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