EXCLUSIVE: Watch romantic WWII drama ‘The Letter Men,’ based on real letters written by gay soldiers in love

EXCLUSIVE: Watch romantic WWII drama ‘The Letter Men,’ based on real letters written by gay soldiers in love

You are currently viewing EXCLUSIVE: Watch romantic WWII drama ‘The Letter Men,’ based on real letters written by gay soldiers in love
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Image Credit: ‘The Letter Men,’ via Andy & Danny Vallentine

Back in 2015, a series of letters were uncovered—the correspondence between a World War II veteran named Gilbert Bradley and his sweetheart, who signed each note with the initial “G,” dated from 1938 to 1941.

Eventually, those letters made their way to a museum in the small English town of Oswestry, where a curator made a surprising discovery: “G” stood for Gordon.

Yes, Gilbert’s sweetheart was a man, and they were in love at a time when not only was homosexuality illegal, but they could’ve faced deadly consequences had their relationship been discovered while serving in the armed forces.

Today, Gilbert and Gordon’s messages are considered the largest known collection of LGBTQ+ love letters from that era, and they remain a crucial time capsule to our community’s past.

Shortly after the letters’ discovery, husbands and filmmakers Andy and Danny Vallentine—a.k.a. The Vallentines—set off to dive deeper into the story, which eventually became the basis of their short film The Letter Men, a romantic war drama that brings Gilbert and Gordon’s moving love affair back to life.

“What I think is so special about Gilbert and Gordon’s love story is that Gordon never mentions feeling conflicted or ashamed about being gay,” co-writer Danny Vallentine shares in a press statement. “In fact, through the letters we are able to see that there was a really inclusive, thriving gay scene during this time in the UK. I was so surprised to learn this, and that can partially be attributed to the fact that people aren’t yet telling stories that represent that experience.”

At just over eight minutes long, The Letter Men manages to be a sweeping vision of a life on the frontlines of WWII and a life between-the-lines, as these brave men kept their love a secret from the rest of the world.

Known for his breakthrough role in the musical Teen Beach Movie and the dark drama King Cobra, Garrett Clayton delivers a powerful, heartbreaking performance as Gilbert. And Peaky Blinders star Matthew Postlethwaite brings the passion as Gordon. Together, they show us the spark that drew these two together over 80 years ago.

Matthew Postlethwaite, Andy Vallentine, and Garrett Clayton

And, for the Vallentines, it was all right there on the page to begin with, optioning the letters and using Gordon’s actual words on screen, which Andy—the film’s director—felt a responsibility to honor. He adds:

“In one of his letters, Gordon said, ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are.’ I can think of no better way to honor his wish than to use his own words for this film.”

And see it they have. Since 2021, The Letter Men has played 20 festivals—including the acclaimed Tribeca Film Festival—wowing audiences and winning numerous awards in the process.

The short’s success has kept The Vallentines quite busy, especially as this year also saw the world premiere of their feature film debut, The Mattachine Family, a moving ode to family, lost and found (which, by the way, features appearances from both Clayton and Postlethwaite!).

But, all the while, Gilbert and Gordon’s story hasn’t left their hearts, which is why the writer-director duo is excited to share that they’re currently developing The Letter Men into a feature film of its own, revisiting those beautiful letters to delve deeper into this timeless romance.

While we eagerly await to see their vision on the big screen, Queerty is honored to be the exclusive web host of The Letter Men, now available to stream online for the first time.

Watch The Letter Men in full below, and be sure to follow both Andy and Danny for the latest on The Mattachine Family, The Letter Men‘s feature-length film, and so much more.


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