ANC065: Forever in Transition: Queer Futurist Aesthetics in Gay Cinema
by Kevin Bertolero
There is power in performance, even within a group of individuals who are not a reproductive body of citizens, who therefore don’t technically have a future.
When motion pictures first emerged as a medium during the nineteenth century, technological limitations obstructed their reach. Commonplace scenes only seconds long—a garden party, blacksmiths at an anvil, a couple’s kiss—fascinated audiences but left much to be desired in terms of narrative. As better equipment and techniques were added to the filmmaking process, these static shots slowly lengthened and became more creative in the actions they depicted. Directors of subsequent decades incorporated sound and color to imagine worlds unlike their own, while auteurs of every generation have built upon the efforts of their predecessors to share stories previously untold. Whereas early movies documented the prosaic, the artform has long served as a means of envisioning the fantastic. If only for a moment, the lights dim and life’s pressures fade; singular sensations are illuminated.
Kevin Bertolero’s Forever in Transition: Queer Futurist Aesthetics in Gay Cinema surveys films depicting homonormative ecstasy, brief glimpses of a utopic existence free from society’s repressive turmoil. Bertolero examines the presence of such occurrence across eras, from the muted subtext of early Hollywood to more recent examples that “take pride in their explicit sexuality, depict bold characters who make bold choices, and reveal queer desire and passion in its rawest forms.” These works function as healing rituals for their creators and audiences alike, providing temporary escape from the everyday tragedies of living in a civilization centered around heterosexual norms. Though their characters may experience these challenges as well, they are also free to flourish within fleeting instances of idyllic harmony. The potential for such a reality may remain past the horizon, but these films allow the viewer to immerse themselves within an ideal for which they must constantly strive—beyond the theater and toward better days to come.
For every copy sold, Another New Calligraphy will donate $1 to Youth in Motion, a program distributing free LGBTQ+ films and curriculum guides to educators in schools nationwide.