Blog: ‘Straight to the Front Row: Investigating Contemporary Western Gay Male Cinema’

Date 19.02.2019

‘Straight to the Front Row: Investigating Contemporary Western Gay Male Cinema’ was hosted this past weekend at the University of Northampton’s new Waterside campus. Alex Cojocaru, undergraduate Creative Arts Student and Jessica Ritchie, Criminology Lecturer at the Uniervsity of Northampton have teamed up to blog about the conference.

This international conference was co-organised by Anthony Stepniak, PhD Student and Associate Lecturer at University of Northampton, assisted by Connor Winterton, from Birmingham City University.

The conference brought academics together to provide an opportunity to consider how gay cinema has and continues to evolve – and the potential impacts on the LGBTQIA+ community.

The conference highlighted there have been a number of progressive films (compared to the historical representations and mainstream film) portraying gay male relationships. But brought to the forefront there is still space to grow to expand portrayals of the queer community.

We are seeing a ‘normalisation’ of gay characters, but they are still underrepresented and minimised in their portrayal – showing characters as predominately naked, middle class, white, fit gay men, and often as ‘deviant’ in their sexuality, in comparison to heterosexual relationships. Further there is a lack of on screen representation of relationships where gender identity and gender assignment are portrayed.

Special meanings can be found through the use of iconography, music, dance, art, physical space, filming techniques, and language (including translations) which contribute to the real and at times complex gay relationships and communities portrayed in film, pornography and fandom. What is portrayed is often beautiful, realistic representations of gay relationships and communities, the primary purpose of which is not to educate the ‘mainstream’ community, but to just exist for entertainment.

However, we need to throw some shade on representations to expand on the expectations and stereotypes which are perpetuated in mainstream film. To continue to test what is considered to be ‘decent’ or ‘moral,’ to expand the culture and sexuality through mainstream film but also pornography. We need to consider the ethics of representations, when there are financial motivations especially for mainstream film, there needs to be true and respectful representations of the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community.

A very thought-provoking conference!

Download the list of speakers and their topics and catch up with discussion from the conference on Twitter @STFRUoN