Queer Movies

A discussion yesterday with my friend Dori got into the topic of queer movies. We both work at an LGBT youth center (her paid, me as a volunteer), and tonight is a movie night at the center. The thing we noticed is that queer movies are generally only of one or two real genres, generally a romantic comedy with varying levels of romance and comedy. There are a few dramas, but we really don’t see much in the way of other genres. Where are the gay action movies, or lesbian super hero movies? What about queer horror or sci-fi? Let’s see a Star Trek with the USS Stonewall!

Now, there are gay characters in other movies, such as Mitch in Paranorman, but they’re not usually the focus of the movie, side characters who happen to be caught up in the plot with the protagonists. How much better would Armageddon have been if Bruce Willis was replaced replaced by an ultra-butch lesbian? What about a Batwoman movie, since she’s openly lesbian and the Bat Family movies are proven to work?

Part of this conversation came about as we discussed the new developments in comics land where Batgirl’s roommate is going to be coming out as transgender, and she will be the first transgender character in a major title whose transgenderism is not brought about by supernatural means. I know that trans folk are probably 15-20 years behind the rest of the queer community when it comes to rights and acceptance, but this is a big step for us. However, the rest of the community already has established characters who are queer in the comics industry, and now that the movie industry is starting to get the hang of comic movies and seeing that they make big money, when will we get some queer super hero movies?

The problem with the existing system is that there is a formula in queer movies, to the point that gay and lesbian movies (and TV to a lesser extent) are rife with cliches. We talk often about how the formula to lesbian movies is that at the start of the movie, one of the girls thinks she’s straight, falls hard in love with the other, there’s conflict as she tries to come to terms with it, but in the end, they’re happily together. With trans movies, or trans characters in other movies, it’s all about getting “the surgery”, as if that’s a magical cure all to all our problems (something I’ve discussed before), and never a character who already has had it or doesn’t want it.

Even with TV this is a problem. We see so many shows trying to be Will and Grace or the L Word, which again fall into the romance/comedy/slice of life genres. So how do we fix this? There are lots of queer people in the industry, obviously, though usually not high up in the production side of things. Unfortunately, that’s part of the problem. We need to show producers that these other kinds of movies will sell. There are likely to be some such movies already out there, so look into them and show your support financially if you enjoy them. Heck, I’ve been watching a number of lesbian movies of late on Netflix, and the ones that I enjoy the most, I’ve either bought for myself or put on my Amazon wishlist for my family to buy for me when they shop for my birthday or holidays. Now, again, most of these are romantic comedies, but it’s a start. We need to let the higher ups know we want more. Tell Warner Brothers that you want a Batwoman movie. Insist to Fox that you want to see gay X-Men. Demand Disney admit that Timon and Pumba are a gay couple.

Once they know we want it, we’ll start seeing more of it… but only if we continue to show that such movies will do well. The better showing those movies have up front, the better budgets they’ll get in the long run, and it all works. I don’t know about you, but I certainly hope to see such movies in the future.

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5 responses to “Queer Movies

  1. Nice post – interesting point of view. I would like to see queer roles become mainstream, so to speak. It shouldn’t be alternative to have a gay man in a lead role in any type of movie, romantic or not. Remember the response to Brokeback Mountain? The same goes for lesbians, bisexuals, and even asexuals and pansexuals. (The fact that my browser tells me that asexuals and pansexuals are misspelled words indicates how far we have to go.) And of course it should also apply to transgender individuals, genderqueer individuals, and other various nonbinary gender identities. However, we have a LONG way to go. That’s what activism is for 😀

    Incidentally, I really don’t watch any movies or tv shows these days anyway; I just prefer reading, blogging, and listening to music. But maybe if the paradigm changes, I might get back into films.

  2. Pingback: Trans Representation in Literature | Transendent Lives

  3. Thanks , I have recently been searching for information about this subject for a while and yours
    is the greatest I’ve came upon so far. However, what about the conclusion? Are you sure
    concerning the source?

    • My conclusion or the conclusion of the train of thought? I mean, yes, there will still be problems, but it will get better. Let’s look at race in movies, for example. It used to be unheard of to have people of color in leading roles, but now we have Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Halle Berry, etc. in leading roles in movies.

      There’s still racism, of course, just as there will still be heterosexism and cissexism, but we can take steps to make it better, and show that money can be made selling diversity.

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