When Terracino arrived in Hollywood in the mid-1990s, fresh off the success of his short film My Polish Waiter, racism and homophobia were rampant and often went hand in hand. “It really gave birth to Elliot, because I wanted to do something just defiantly gay and Latino. Not about being gay and Latino, but I wanted to do something that, in essence, Hollywood kept telling me not to do.”
Elliot Loves follows the titular Dominican-American protagonist, intercutting between Elliot as a child (the precocious Quentin Araujo) being raised by a single mother and as a 21-year-old gay man (the adorable Fabio Costaprado) racing through relationships and lovers.
Terracino has broken the film into seven thematic sections to illustrate the frenetic essence of youth. “To me, when I meet young people, especially young Latinos, their lives are just so crazy and all over the place, rich and full,” he explains. “They’re suicidal on Monday, and then they meet a hot guy and want to get married on Tuesday, and on Wednesday they’re crashing again, and on Thursday they tell me they’re living life as a single man and finding out who they are, and then on Friday they’re in a new relationship.”
Each of Elliot’s lovers is also a new love, and each is more beautiful than the last, though Elliot grapples with self-esteem. “I feel like that’s the way it is when you’re gay and 21,” Terracino says. “You’re not conscious that you’re cute. You see yourself as gangly and awkward, and it seems like everywhere you go everyone is better looking than you.”