History of Art and Film Seminar Series: Homonormative Sex in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian Cinemas

Posted by jcm22 at Oct 18, 2018 04:50 PM |
24 October 2018 - In the first in this series of four seminars, Connor Winterton (Birmingham City) examines homonormative sex in contemporary gay and lesbian cinemas, highlighting a recurrent detatchment from queer radical politics in favour of a focus on homonormative ideologies.

Date: 24 October 2018
Time: 4pm - 6pm
Location: Ken Edwards Fifth Floor SR 527

Contact: Dr Samuel Raybone


Speaker: Connor Winterton (Birmingham City)

While some contemporary gay and lesbian filmmaking intersects with, and continues, the radical politics set out by the New Queer Cinema of the 1990s in films such as Stranger by the Lake (dir. Alain Guiraudie, 2013) or Tangerine (dir. Sean Baker, 2015), some strands are also entrenched in homonormative ideologies whereby sex is (re)presented as a physical manifestation of romance and love, as well as sex being sentimentalised as not a physical act for pleasure, but a physical act that births romantic kinship in a heteronormative, and homonormative, manner. To explore these issues, this paper is divided in to three case studies that highlight some of the most prominent ways in which contemporary gay-and-lesbian themed films, both independent and mainstream, have rendered sex homonormative, or have offered a homonormative way of expressing or representing (gay or lesbian) sexual desire.

The first two case studies examine ‘homonormative gestures’ in the form of panning away from sex as exemplified in Call Me By Your Name (dir. Luca Guadagnino, 2017), and the use of the fade-to-black editing technique as exemplified in Carol (dir. Todd Haynes, 2015), and the third case study looks at how sex is presented as a physical act that creates love (and therefore births romantic kinship in a hetero/homo normative manner) in 05:59 Theo & Hugo (Olivier Ducastel & Jacques Martineau, 2016). This paper ultimately highlights the ways in which some strands of contemporary gay and lesbian cinemas have detached themselves from a queer radical politics in favour of a focus that explicitly puts homonormative ideologies front and centre, not only in their overall narrative focus, but even in their representations of sex and intimacy.


Connor Winterton is a PhD Candidate and Associate Lecturer in the Birmingham School of Media, Birmingham City University. While Connor’s PhD research is centred on representations of gay, lesbian and queer sex in contemporary cinema, his other interests and specialisms include: gender and sexual politics, feminist (film) theory, sexually explicit screen media, audiences and spectatorship, queer theory and Western film cultures. Connor is an editorial board member for the new and innovative journal MAI: Journal of Feminism and Visual Culture, and has a number of publications forthcoming that relate to audience studies, gay male identity in contemporary American teen cinema, and sexual politics and romance in Love Island (co-written with Peri Bradley).

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