Slovenia’s first LGBTQ-themed film, Consequences (or Posledice, 2018), is an arresting portrayal of what happens when institutional and judicial structures fail young gay men. The debut film by director Darko Štante asks: if men haphazardly placed in youth detention centers do not receive adequate support, what happens to the gay men in it? How do failing political structures further marginalise gay men, and leave them twice-removed from society?Continue reading “‘Consequences’: On Gay Loneliness and the Spectacle of Hyper-Masculinity”
Animation opens up universes of possibilities. In worlds drawn from the imaginations of its creators, anything can happen. So then why is there so little queer representation in Western animation? There are a few examples out there, such as Steven Universe, that provide beautiful stories that speak to adults and children alike. But these examples are few and far between, which can lead one to believe that there’s something about non-heterosexuality that is shied away from in animation, despite stories that take place in space with plethoras of alien races. There is much more queer representation in anime, though it isn’t always for the best. Yet they still include these characters and themes more often than seen in the animated films of Disney and Pixar.
This list contains eight are examples of queer stories and characters created in the world of animation. Most of them are television shows, with a few short and feature films sprinkled throughout. The length of this list is a testament to the need for more gay animation, especially in the mainstream.
Horror has a rocky track record with queer representation, particularly in terms of portraying “deviant” identities as monstrous. Films such as Dracula’s Daughter (1936), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), and High Tension (2002) portray gay characters as predatory figures who seek to kidnap and kill; in these films, their sexuality is what drives them to such violence. The horror films of the 1980s and 1990s try to deal with the fear of AIDS with films about the body in pain. And then of course there is the rampant amount of queer subtext that fills the genre, either written in by filmmakers or found with the horror community. Horror films are often seen as a genre for deviants, a place to find comfort and power within monstrous identity. This is a queer genre, through and through.
With all of that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of horror’s best LGBTQIA+ films with more explicit, and mostly positive, representation.
“Mum, I’m gay.”
For those outside of the LGBTQ+ community, the weight of these three words (or their counterparts; “I’m bisexual”/“I’m transgender”, etc) can be difficult to comprehend. Many well-meaning people even question the necessity of such a declaration, blissfully unaware of the continued assumption that everyone is cisgender and heterosexual. For LGBTQ+ individuals, however, ‘coming out’ is often an intrinsic part of our personal development; the reaction of family and friends to one’s true self has ruined as many lives as it has made. Within this community, the majority of us have our own story – whether that story be tragic or comic, neat or messy, drawn-out or quickly resolved— and it is the broadcasting of these tales that Denis Parrot’s documentary Out concerns itself with.
The film takes clips of individuals either informing their relatives of their sexuality/gender or reflecting on their coming out stories, and presents these videos in a clear manner void of all context bar the name of the person, their location, and the time of recording. Largely – though not entirely – from the perspective of young people, these intimate moments are captured and memorialised. Assembled roughly within Parrot’s film, the viewer is exposed to the full range of experiences, from the breathtaking relief of loving acceptance, to the despair of violent rejection.
When scrolling through Netflix’s recent catalogue, it’s gratifying to see a lot of content focusing on under-represented minorities, especially in genres that are commonly concentrated on white, straight stories of privilege. While some, such as Pose and Everything Sucks!, manage to establish effective narratives of inclusion, others, such as Insatiable, fail miserably and feed into dangerous prejudice. It’s a relief that Special – the world’s first dramedy series about a young gay man with cerebral palsy – is not only respectful towards its subject, but also conscious of other struggles surrounding him.
“No family. No friends.”
These are the words which first expose the true vulnerability of 74-year-old drag queen Jackie Collins (also known as Jack) in the independent British drama, Tucked. He is talking to his doctor, who has just informed him that he has weeks left to live. Hated by his daughter and plagued with regret for his past decisions, Jack has nothing but the dingy bar where he performs, and the love of a roaring audience—that is, until new queen Faith sweeps into his life complete with eight-inch killer heels. Young, stylish and non-binary, Faith represents a newer age of drag, but it is their shared exclusion from the world which bonds the two queens, and leads to a unique friendship that neither could have anticipated.
Tension has become a trademark in Marco Berger’s work. You’re aware going into one of his films that the will-they won’t-they suspense will drive the narrative. The spaces in his films brim with silence, allowing the restless expressions in his characters’ faces do the talking. The point is not to make it seem like words are irrelevant—on the contrary, it is when his characters come clean that you realize the power of just talking. It is fitting then that The Blonde One, Berger’s latest film, was conceived with a mute lead in mind. While at the end they were forced to scratch that idea, Gabriel, the titular blonde (Taekwondo’s Gaston Re), clings to quietness throughout the story, even being referred to as “the mute” by his friends.
We meet Gabriel as he’s moving in to his co-worker Juan’s (Alfonso Barón) flat so he can be close to his place of work. Juan looks infatuated with the man from the moment he arrives, glancing at him for a bit too long and standing a bit too close to him at every chance he gets. While Gabriel is apprehensive at first, as he has a girlfriend and a daughter living with his parents, he’s ultimately responsive to Juan’s insinuations. The sexual tension builds until the end of the first act when a proposal to go out and buy beer quickly escalates—Juan finally acts on his desires and Gabriel reciprocates leniently. The implication here might be that we’re observing the dawn of a new love, but as Juan kicks Gabriel out of his room after having sex, we learn that’s not the case.