What Is the Future of Queer Cinema?
Let the Stories Speak for Themselves
How can we create safe spaces for queer art in 2018?
This is a question I’ve pondered over the months and years. Living in San Francisco, I've truly moved into my final gay form. I'm constantly surrounded by diverse queer people of every race, religion, and background. To me, everything and everyone is gay. Sadly, this media does not see life in the rainbow that I do. There's still many gaps in the world I walk around in, and the one I see when I turn on my television. Despire this, we’ve seen a rising number of queer related TV shows, books, music, and films come into the forefront of mainstream media— especially recently. Thanks to rising queer pop artist Hayley Kiyoko, we are living in the year 20GayTeen.
From Brockhampton and Troye Sivan, Queer Eye, and Glee (or any Ryan Murphy show), to Call Me By Your Name, Moonlight, and recently Love, Simon, I’ve read and watched and followed as artists, writers, and creators claw their way through mainstream Hollywood to tell the queer stories that we want to be told. We’ve begun to come through the threshold in media, yet we are still left with questions, caveats, and judgements.
Why do we continue to compare queer films?
How does one be gay on TV without being in a Ryan Murphy show? (authentically, at least)
When will we allow people to unabashedly celebrate their queerness?
Though I’m not so sure how to answer the last two, (please email me, Ryan Murphy) I have some thoughts on the first. I loved Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name, and though I’ve yet to see Love, Simon, I’m blown away by the response I’ve witnessed on the internet. These are all very diverse, queer-centered stories, yet they still become lumped into one category. The danger in this might seem small to others, but I’ve seen how this causes audiences to pit these films against each other for no reason. As someone who longs for more queer stories in film, this disappoints and frustrates me.
As I’ve seen similarly with the success of Wrinkle in Time and Black Panther, people are quick to compare Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler simply because they’re both black filmmakers. Instead of celebrating the fact that the number two box office successes at the moment are films led and created by African-Americans, we see article headlines harshly comparing the two. I’ve seen this happen very recently with CMBYN and Love, Simon.
Whether you like these films or not, there is no reason you should choose to compare or judge one or the other simply because they’re both queer films. They’re within their own cinematic universes, are vastly different films, and have different themes. Belittling one or the other destroys the art, taking away its value. The more we lump them into one category, the smaller they become. We are putting them right back into the box they began in, without even realizing it. If this keeps happening, no one will ever be able to be gay on television without the help of Ryan Murphy (seriously Ryan, I’d love to talk to you).
I'm not sure how cinema and television will move forward in the future, but I am hopeful. I long for real stories featuring real queer people, who are able to celebrate who they are fully, without the usual caveats that we see. Don't get me wrong, I love a good coming-of-age and coming out story. But, being queer is much more than that, and I'd like to see some art where the "struggling with my sexuality" part is not the main focus. We need to show characters in their final gay forms so kids can see what the future holds for them.
So, how do we create safe spaces for queer art moving forward? We let the art speak for itself. I didn’t get to experience all the queerness in media that kids are experiencing today, and I’ve come to terms with that. I know that I came out alright, but I also know that my 10-year-old self would have been changed completely by movies like Love, Simon. We must keep pushing for the art for our children of future generations.
© 2018 Max Kennedy