Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer, and Transgendered (GLBQT) Cinema

Niall Richardson

in Cinema and Media Studies

ISBN: 9780199791286
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer, and Transgendered (GLBQT) Cinema

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Mainstream cinema’s dominant subject has always been heterosexuality. Whether explicit, as in the romance genre, or simply implied, as in other genres, heterosexuality has been the foundation of mainstream cinematic representations. Queer characters, however, have been represented since cinema began, although only recently could they be labeled as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. Until the 1970s, queer characters in cinema were coded through a conflation of gender transitivity with sexuality. For example, gay men were coded as effeminate—the stereotype of the sissy—while lesbians were represented as butch. Arguably, the spectator did not always read the character as queer and simply responded to the violation of gender propriety. No matter how spectators read specific characters, people identified as queer have always appeared in cinema and television. Often sources of humor or horror, queer characters have appealed to audiences for generations. One of the main concerns for queer activism has been how representations have colored public perception of queer minorities. Given that, until fairly recently, many spectators may not have known someone who was identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (GLBT), the cinematic representations could fuel further homophobia or prejudice. And many young people growing up in relative isolation with gender uncertainty have first identified with a queer character on screen. Arguably, negative stereotypes promote self-loathing in the queer spectator. It is for this reason that the study of GLBT issues in film and media has been a politically important area of scholarship— interrogating representations and readings and also considering films made by GLBT-identified directors. This scholarship grew from the earliest writings that attempted to theorize camp as well as from an underground concern with rewriting the history of film with a place for gays. More recently, academic scholarship has debated how GLBT characters were represented in films (lesbian and gay criticism); how queer-identified spectators reread or negotiated the meaning of mainstream cinema (queer readings); or how GLBT people have represented themselves (queer cinema).

Article.  5512 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies ; Film ; Radio ; Television

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