By Marler, Regina
The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine) , No. 987
Early in the documentary Red Without Blue, Jenny, the mother of identical twins Mark and Clair, tells the camera, "I don't think of them as my children. They're just young people I know." After decades of shock filmmaking, only honesty like this can still startle us. The film--which won the audience award for best documentary at this year's Slamdance Film Festival and premieres this June on Sundance Channel--is full of such moments. Revealing, visually layered, and completely engaging, it's also a heart-wrenching emotional ride.
Mark and Clair began life in Missoula, Mont., as Mark and Alex, twins so indistinguishable their mother had to dress Mark in red and Alex in blue. Their childhood was happy. The home movies incorporated in the film show them as beaming towheaded boys, but as we eventually discover, their parents' divorce, the twins' heavy drug use, and their victimization by a pedophile took a toll. Alex's decision to come out in seventh grade inadvertently dragged Mark out of the closet too. Twins to the end, they tried to kill themselves with carbon monoxide poisoning. At age 14 they were sent to separate boarding schools for troubled teenagers, and when they finally saw each other again after two years apart, Alex told Mark he was becoming Clair.
For Mark, Clair's transition wasn't just a rejection of her birth gender but of her twin, her second self. Their twinship offers an incredibly poignant externalization of the process of self-questioning.
The filming of Red Without Blue, which began when the twins were 21 and lasted 2 1/2 years, became part of a healing process. …