Defiant Deviance and Franco-Moroccan Cinema’s Queer Representations of Masculinity

in Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities

In the last decade, Franco-Moroccan directors have begun to explore culturally taboo and unrepresented sexual communities within Morocco. This article examines how two pioneering films, Abdellah Taïa’s Salvation Army and Nabil Ayouch’s Much Loved, contribute to an emerging cultural politics in the Arab-speaking world that is reframing marginalized or invisible sexualities. While these films address issues of sexual tourism, incest, and prostitution, among others, the focus of this article is on the films’ critiques of internalized homophobia, sexual tourism, and the sociopolitical power structures that occlude, marginalize, or shame those males outside of the heterosexual matrix. Analyzing the films’ portrayal of the semiotics of forbidden desire, internalized homophobia, and the circulation and spatialization of queer sexualities in Morocco, this article argues that Salvation Army and Much Loved complicate our understanding of Arab masculinities and add to a growing queer visibility that stretches from the Maghreb to the Gulf.

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