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From Adolescent Boys to Queer Young Men

Support for and Silencing of Queer Voice in Schools, Families, and Communities

Michael Sadowski

Gilligan (1996) and other feminist relational psychologists have identified a “silencing” to which adolescent girls are vulnerable when they confront pressures to conform to patriarchal values and norms in various social contexts. As Machoian (2005) and other researchers have noted, the silencing of girls’ authentic voices at adolescence is associated with heightened risk for depression and for suicide, cutting, eating disorders, and other self-harming behaviors. This article is based on in-depth interviews that examined the ways in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identifying youth might be subject to an analogous silencing of their authentic “queer voices.” Drawing on four case studies of male youth who participated in a larger qualitative research project, the article examines how schools, families, and communities both supported and silenced the authentic expression of their voices as gay- or queer-identifying boys. Since two of the case studies are based on interviews with participants at both late adolescence and young adulthood, the article also examines the effects of supportive factors over time and how they helped contribute to a purposeful, voiced sense of queer male identity as the participants reached manhood.

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Queer Sensations

Postwar American Melodrama and the Crisis of Queer Juvenility

Cael Keegan

This essay analyzes the cinematic genre convention of the “sensation scene” as a vehicle for the representation of queer crises in American juvenility during the postwar era. Through popular cinema, post-WWII America organized and communicated concerns about the production of “fit” masculine and heterosexual juveniles who would be capable of carrying out the postwar expansion of American democratic and capitalist ideologies. The sensation scene was deployed by popular films to mark queer and racialized masculinities in an aesthetic system that mirrored institutional efforts to prevent “unfit” juveniles from accessing the benefits of full social and political participation. Today, the genre device continues to structure popular film representations of and common thinking about the relative value of young, male American lives.

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Not Just a Phase

Queer Girlhood and Coming of Age on Screen

Whitney Monaghan

In this article, I seek to interrogate the visibility of queer girls in contemporary cinema. I demonstrate how queerness has long been associated with a passing phase of adolescent development in the teen media sphere. I reflect on the nuanced relationships between queerness and girlhood in four contemporary US independent queer films, arguing that Pariah (2011), Mosquita y Mari (2012), First Girl I Loved (2016), and Princess Cyd (2017) are representative of a new wave of queer girlhood on screen. Rejecting the pervasive tropes of coming out as coming of age and just a phase, these films use queer girlhood to challenge linear models of girlhood.

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Siobhan B. Somerville

This article offers a first-person account of the author's experience teaching an undergraduate course on local queer culture, using her own campus as the site for primary research. The course asks how students might understand the role of Midwestern public universities in the production of queer culture. And how might such knowledge revise understandings of queer culture and its locations, both in the past and in the present? The author describes the course design, the goals of introducing undergraduate students to two scholarly methods (archival research and ethnography) and a number of original research projects undertaken by students.

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Miles away from Screwing?

Queer Gothic Girlhood in John Harding’s Florence and Giles

Robyn Ollett

Literary fiction is a widely popular arena in which discourse on sexuality and queerness is produced and disseminated. The Gothic is an especially crucial mode in literary fiction that has a historically intimate relationship with queer subjectivity. Observing this relationship between Gothic fiction and queer subjectivity, in this article I analyze the representation of queer Gothic girlhood in contemporary fiction, taking as my focus John Harding’s 2010 reworking of the Henry James classic, The Turn of the Screw (1898). I show how Florence and Giles develops familiar tropes attached to the figure of the queer child and look specifically at how readings of the parent text implicate contemporary readings of this figure. With close readings that draw on the queer feminist ethics of Lynne Huffer, I consider what seems to be happening to the figure of the queer Gothic girl in contemporary fiction.

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Doing Queer Love

Feminism, AIDS, and History

Lisa Diedrich

In this essay, I utilize the concept of the echo, as formulated in the historical and methodological work of Michel Foucault and Joan W. Scott, to help theorize the historical relationship between health feminism and AIDS activism. I trace the echoes between health feminism and AIDS activism in order to present a more complex history of both movements, and to try to think through the ways that the coming together of these two struggles in a particular place and time—New York City in the 1980s—created particular practices that might be effective in other times and places. The practice that I focus on here is one that I call 'doing queer love'. As I hope to show, 'doing queer love' both describes a particular history of health activism and opens up the possibility of bringing into being a different future than the one a conventional history of AIDS seems to predict. It is an historical echo that I believe we must try to hear now, not just in order to challenge a particular history of AIDS activism in the United States, but also in order to provide a model that can be useful for addressing the continuing problem of AIDS across the globe.

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Redefining Representation

Black Trans and Queer Women's Digital Media Production

Moya Bailey

This article explores Black trans and queer women’s use of digital media platforms to create alternate representations of themselves through a process that addresses health and healing beyond the purview of the biomedical industrial complex. These activities include trans women of color using Twitter to build networks of support and masculine of center people creating their own digital health zine, two projects that value the propagation of crowd-sourced knowledge and the creation of images that subvert dominant representations of their communities. I argue that this process of redefining representation interrupts the normative standards of bodily representation and health presented in popular and medical culture. My research connects the messages within the seemingly objective realm of biomedicine to the social contexts in which they emerge and are shared. By highlighting two examples where I see these connections being made, I shift attention to the images deployed to redefine representations within these liminal communities.

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Repetitions of Desire

Queering the One Direction Fangirl

Hannah McCann and Clare Southerton

Like other fangirls, fans of former boyband One Direction (“Directioners”) have often been represented in media discourse as obsessive and hysterical, with fan behaviour interpreted as longing for heterosexual intimacy with band members. Subverting this heteronormative framing, a group of Directioners known as “Larries” have built a sub-fandom around imagining a relationship (“ship”) between two of the band members, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. Representation of the Larry fandom has gone beyond pathologizing fangirls to framing their shipping practice in terms of “fake news.” The conspiracy theory panic around Larries misses the complex ways that subtext and queer reading are mobilized within the fandom to invoke feelings of queer intimacy and belonging. Drawing on a digital ethnography conducted on Twitter with Larries, we argue that these fans engage in queer reading strategies to explicitly imagine and interrupt dominant heterosexual narratives, and thus queer the figure of the fangirl.

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“Coaching” Queer

Hospitality and the Categorical Imperative of LGBTQ Asylum Seeking in Lebanon and Turkey

Aydan Greatrick

This article argues that Northern responses to, and recognition of, LGBTQ refugees bind queer organizations in Lebanon and Turkey, which support such refugees, in a state of contradiction. This contradiction is defined both by the failure of Northern LGBTQ rights discourses to account for Southern ways of being queer, but also by the categorical imperative of hospitality, which asks that the “right” refugee appears in line with the moral, political, raced, and gendered assumptions of Northern host states. In recognizing this imperative, this article observes how queer organizations in Lebanon and Turkey navigate this contradiction by simultaneously “coaching” their beneficiaries on how to appear “credible” in line with Northern assumptions about sexual difference, while working to accommodate the alterity of those they support.

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Mapping the (Adolescent) Male Body

Queerness, Pedophilia and Perversions in "L.I.E." and "Mysterious Skin"

Sarag E. S. Sinwell

Drawing on the work of Gayle Rubin, Jonathan Dollimore, and B. Ruby Rich, this paper will explore the ways in which Michael Cuesta’s L.I.E. (2000) and Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin (2004) portray adolescent male bodies and subjectivities within the context of the queer. Throughout these films, cinematic identification is primarily tied up with the stories of adolescent boys. However, the perverse acts in which they participate (both voluntarily and involuntarily), the inclusion of multiple points of view, and the focus on our own cultural constructions of childhood, adolescent and adult sexualities trace a network of nodes of identification. Thus, I argue that L.I.E. and Mysterious Skin queer identification by imagining a multiplicity, fluidity, and diversity of modes of identification that engage with both the normal and perverse natures of identity, sexuality, and subjectivity.