Week 7: Cruising

At the center of all three of this week’s readings—particularly Edward Guthmann’s The Cruising Controversy and Chris Holmlund’s Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’— was the question of intersectionality. Citing critical, academic, and mainstream reactions of gay and lesbian/feminist communities respectively, Guthmann and Holmlund are questioning the queer community’s ability to be inclusive in its activism. Discussing the massive protests during the pre-production of  William Friedkin’s Cruising, Guthmann states that a hidden motivation behind the “fear-mongering” resistance was the “nervous urge to deny the kinky corners of gay sexuality” (5).  Extrapolating, Guthmann asks if the gay community is denying the uniqueness of their culture and therefore simply replicating heterosexual ideas of respectability by “always insisting on a ‘positive image’ to show the straight world” (5). In Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’, Holmlund bases their entire essay on exploring identity-based elements of “queer” films that were otherwise ignored—race and age. Holmmund asks “when activists talk about ‘what life is like for queers in this country’ whose ‘queer’ life are they describing” (44)? For both Guthmann and Holmlund, discourse around queer films represent larger issues with the queer community and are instrumental in understanding the contradictions and hypocrises within the movement toward’s its liberation. Through analyzing reactions to queer representations, Guthmann and Holmlund call attention to the fact that while attempting to combat mainstream homophobia, the queer community also intensely homogenizes itself. In the most Foucauldian sense, censoring the “negative” is creates a single-minded concept of what it is and can be “positive.”  And this new “positive” representation—of desxualized, respectable, white middle class gays—is more reflective of the dominant ideology of the heteronormative capitalist society that excludes members of the community rather than the diversity of the community itself. How effective can activism that fights for only one type of queerness? Not very,especially as the queer communities newly made undesirables—sex workers, people of color, transgender individuals, low-income earner—are already the ones who would already be the most at risk.


Works Cited:

Guthmann, Edward. “The Cruising Controversy” William Friedkin vs. the Gay Community.”Cinéaste 10.3 (1980): 2-8. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 8 Mar. 2017.

Holmlund, Edward. “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’: Hollywood’s Deadly (Lesbian) Dolls.”Cinema Journal 34.1 (1994): 2-8. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 8 Mar. 2017.

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