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Crafting a Rom-Com That’s True to 21st-Century Gay Life

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On a brisk November day, in a wing of the Newark Museum of Art mocked up as the first New York museum dedicated to L.G.B.T.Q.

history, Billy Eichner stood in front of a glass vitrine. Inside was a black-and-white image of Magnus Hirschfeld, a Weimar-era physician and sexologist.

In character as Bobby, the museum’s chief curator, Eichner gave a brief precis of Hirschfeld’s career, finishing with an ad-lib, “Tragically, he’s also my type.” He took it again: “Ultimately he wanted an open relationship.” And again: “We also had a very weird night together.” The scene continued, as Bobby walked through the exhibit, delivering a lecture that encompassed homophobia, Nazis and, eventually, AIDS. “It’s a painful history; people need to experience it,” Eichner’s Bobby said.

Watching on a monitor, the director Nicholas Stoller turned to me. “Blockbuster comedy,” he joked good-naturedly. “You feel it?” This was the final week of shooting for “Bros,” a romantic comedy written by Eichner and Stoller.

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