My name is Joshua Davy and I’m from Hong Kong.
When I was 16, me and my mom were invited to the W Hotel in Guangzhou because we did two pieces of artwork there. And I remember during the after party when we’re a little bit drunk, I was grinding with two beautiful models at the party and at that moment my mom asked me, she basically said, “Joshua, if you’re gay, it’s fine.”
And I did not know what to say at all because I just had my first sexual experience with a girl so I was still kind of confused and figuring things out but she was very open and it was really easy for me to talk to her about things. I just didn’t want her to be right at that time until I figured out myself.
But with my grandfather, the whole idea of coming out was a little bit different. I remember I would visit him all the time when I was younger in New Zealand and we would basically just spend time talking about his past war stories and his journey from traveling from London to New Zealand and we never really talked about that. One thing he always kind of told me that was really important to him was that I, Joshua Davy, was the only one in my entire family with my last name which basically meant that I had to maintain the family name and he kind of talked about how to find the right woman, what qualities I should be looking for and also how important it is to have at least one son.
So I think growing up with these two different conflicting ideas of it being very open and very easy to be gay and having my grandfather’s kind of alternate perspective where he just wouldn’t talk about it and it just wouldn’t be a topic of conversation. I wasn’t sure whether it was a duty to be honest and come out to him or whether I should just not say anything at all.
So when I was in my second year at Tisch, I found out that my grandfather had his first stroke. And almost as a response, I wrote a short screenplay called Stillman’s Portrait about a distant relationship between an artist protagonist and his boat craftsman of a father. The film to me was my own way of coming out to him.
I remember FaceTiming my grandfather during the heat of pre-production when everything was very busy. That was the only time I talked to him during that period. And I remember him telling me that, “Look, Joshua, my son, my good boy, you will get through this no matter what because I know you. I know that you’re a good filmmaker and I know that you’re someone who will get what he wants and make sure it happens because he cares about things.”
And that kind of stuck with me and I kind of took that on when overcoming a bunch of other challenges.
Then my grandfather passed away a week and a half before production. After he passed away, and right before my shoot, it really, really, really crushed me. And I did not know what to do at all. I did take steps back and I had to re-evaluate a lot of things in my life but I just kind of told myself what he told me, “Just do it. You can do it because you will get what you want and you will just do it because you can.”
With that, I kind of just persevered and I made my film knowing that my grandfather would never actually watch it and never find out about my sexual identity.
So six months after I made the, I finished locking the picture, my producer and I decided to show the film to the people who helped with giving us the locations, the people of the Bayles Boat Shop in Port Jefferson, Long Island. And after the screening something really remarkable happened. There was this old man sitting in the back who I didn’t really know and he kind of came up to me and just told me that he was really glad that I made the film. And I asked him why. And he told me that his daughter was gay and he had a very hard time trying to come to terms with her sexuality and he kind of wished he watched the film before this ever happened because there wouldn’t have been that 5 years of just not talking to each other. I imagine that if my grandfather did see it, he would probably say the same thing. He would probably say that, “I’m glad that you showed me this first so I could relive…feel the emotions of what it would be like if coming out turned sour” so that he would kind of know what to do if I did.