It turns out Howard is actually gay and he breaks off his wedding to Emily. It looks like he will lose his job, but Cameron returns to his hometown and rallies the community to support Howard (and Cameron gives Howard his Academy Award). At the end, the entire town celebrates as Howard's parents renew their vows.
In this comedy, Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline) is a beloved small-town English teacher and drama club leader in. Everything seems to be going well for him. His is set to wed Emily Montgomery (Joan Cusack - in an Oscar-nominated role) in a few days after a three-year engagement, and his former student Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) has been nominated for an Academy Award. The entire town watches the Oscar ceremony and can't believe it when Cameron actually wins. During his acceptance speech, Cameron thanks Howard on national TV and also mentions that Howard is gay. The town is shocked, especially Howard's parents Berniece (Debbie Reynolds) and Frank (Wilford Brimley). Though most people believe Howard's protests that he is not gay, his boss Principal Tom Halliwell (Bob Newhart) essentially says Howard must marry Emily or he will lose his job (it was still taboo in these times to be openly gay).
Cameron's comments create a media frenzy as dozens of reporters, led by gay-reporter Peter Malloy (Tom Selleck), descend on the town to cover the marriage. Howard continuously protests the label as gay despite his love for dancing, his obsession with Barbara Streisand and the fact that he has never slept with Emily during their three years of dating. Peter is convinced, however, that Howard is gay and tries to get him to come out, saying that the town and his family will ultimately support him. Peter even goes as far as kissing Howard, who seems to enjoy it before running away.
The wedding finally arrives as Peter watches. When it comes time to say "I do," Howard instead says "I'm gay" in front of the entire town. Emily is shocked and has a comical nervous breakdown, having waited three years (and lost tons of weight) to prepare for this day. Howard feels ashamed and retreats to his house after punching Peter in the face. Cameron sees news coverage of the event and decides to return to the town. Emily, not realizing Peter is also gay, tries to seduce him only to have another comical breakdown after learning he is a homosexual. While running down the street, she bumps into Cameron (who she tutored when he was in high school). Cameron says he always thought Emily was beautiful (even when she was fat) and the two dance in the moonlight.
Graduation day arrives, and though Howard has resigned, he decides to attend the ceremony. Cameron bursts into the auditorium to ask why Howard was forced to resign and why he didn't win the "teacher of the year" award. Principal Halliwell first states that the students won't accept Howard, but the students begin to stand up and in a sign of solidarity, claim that they too are gay. When Principal Halliwell then says the community is opposed to Howard, they begin to stand up and say they are gay, including Howard's parents and brother. Eventually everyone stands up and says they are gay, including Principal Halliwell. To a round of applause, Cameron actually gives his Oscar statute to Howard in lieu of the "teacher of the year" award.
We then see Howard and Peter dressing up in a suit at the church where Howard was to get married to Emily. They then enter the Church to watch as Howard's parents renew their vows. Everyone in the community (including Emily and Cameron) attend the party afterwards and all dance together as the credits roll.
The film also includes cameos by Glenn Close, Dan Hedaya, Jay Leno and Whoopi Goldberg.
Thanks Evan B!