Torch Song Trilogy is the 1988 comedy romance film written by Tony Award winning actor Harvey Fierstein, and based on his Broadway play of the same name. The film was directed by Paul Bogart. The film follows events in the life of New York City drag queen Arnold Beckwith (Harvey Fierstein) from 1971-1980. Arnold is an openly gay female impersonator who becomes involved with bisexual schoolteacher Ed Reese (Brian Kerwin). Ed is ambivalent about his sexuality and somewhat uncomfortable with his relationship with Arnold. Ed finds a way out when he meets and falls in love with Laurel (Karen Young). Arnold is heartbroken about the events but trudges on.
A few years later, Arnold meets and falls in love with Alan Simon (Matthew Broderick), a young male model. Arnold and Alan's relationship has its trials and tribulations, but they finally able to have a steady and loving relationship. The couple applies for and is approved to adopt a gay teen foster child David (Eddie Castrodad). The family addition requires more room so they decide to find a larger home in the country. The same day that they move, Alan is attacked and killed by a gang of homophobic men. Arnold is once again left heartbroken and disillusioned about his life.
Arnold's mother, Ma Beckoff (Anne Bancroft), comes for a visit a few months after Alan's murder. Stern and outspoken, Ma Beckoff uses the visit to confront Arnold about a number of issues such as the adoption of the gay teen, and where Arnold chose to bury Alan. Arnold and Ma have a series of disagreements over Arnold's lifestyle choice, and her refusal to accept things the way they are. The day before Ma leaves, she and Arnold finally find common ground and understanding. Arnold resumes a relationship with a more mature Ed, and finds happiness both in his relationship and new career as a director.