Special Issue 21.2 Queer/Trans Media Now

Guest Editor: Matt Connolly


EXCERPT: “The scholars in this issue…utilize a range of critical tools to freshly analyze a film’s cultural politics, carefully critique an auteur’s representational strategies, and find within the briefest of
cinematic moments the potential to upend axioms of queer theory.”


‘Unique Joy’: Netflix, Pleasure and the Shaping of Queer Taste


By Clara Bradbury-Rance

EXCERPT: “This ‘exploration zone’ is where we can imagine things get interesting, where LGBTQ viewers are likely corralled into communities of interest and queer meaning starts to take shape. However, while it may be tempting to conjure such a zone as a techno-utopian metaphor for community, built from members with ‘similar tastes and preferences’, these other viewers must also remain anonymous. Collective experience is embedded into the process so seamlessly that it is made invisible, producing the illusion of an unmediated connection between the site and the individual viewer. The resulting impression: ‘look how well we know you’ (better than your friends know you, better than you know yourself).”

On Xavier Dolan’s Musical Parentheses

By Sergio Rigoletto

EXCERPT: “The textual transgression that I wish to bring attention to is one that disturbs expectations around motivation, referentiality and restraint as projected onto the cinematic image. The essay argues that the disruptive value of Dolan’s penchant for musical parentheses goes beyond the idea of a disturbance. It constitutes an unruly mode of cinematic queerness that unleashes playful, non-linear temporalities, pushing them well beyond their expected textual boundaries and opening up for the spectator expansive horizons of queer possibility.” 

Reading Joey Soloway: Popularizing Feminist and Queer Theory in Independent Film and Television

By Sarah E.S. Sinwell

EXCERPT: “In an attempt to make these often invisible and highly contested categories of gender and sexuality visible within popular media, Soloway is also attempting to give voice to marginalized communities such as sex workers, trans people, and polyamorous couples. But, at the same time, Soloway’s representations of these identities often fall short of reconceptualizing their intersectionalities. While Soloway’s work may serve as a treatise on applying feminist and queer theories to gender, sex, and relationships, it simultaneously perpetuates and resists normative ideas about these non-normative identities. This article will argue that rather than upholding the resistant and revolutionary potential of these non-normative representations, Soloway instead draws attention to the ambivalent and contradictory cultural understandings of these identities in relation to feminist and queer theory.”

Melancholy, Respectability, and Credibility in Sean Baker’s Tangerine


By Paige Macintosh

EXCERPT: “The film’s most significant challenge to respectability discourse is arguably its depiction of Sin-Dee and Alexandra as sex workers…While the media overrepresents trans women as sex workers, Tangerine’s approach is innovative. Tangerine depicts Sin-Dee and Alexandra’s sex work as work, as legitimate labour. Alexandra’s exasperated interactions with clients like Parsimonious John and her casual rapport with Razmik normalize, rather than sensationalise, sex work. The police officer’s unhelpful attitude (accentuated by misgendering) during Alexandra’s aggressive encounter with a client also illustrates that sex workers are denied the safety net that a legalized industry provides. While Sin-Dee’s assault and Alexandra’s fight are reminders of the implicit dangers of working in the industry, the film ultimately presents these as systemic rather than individual issues – and in a straightforward rather than tragic manner.”

‘It’s not really a cat’: Art, Media, and Wildness in Cat People (1942, 1982)

By Alex Zivkovic

EXCERPT: “…Few scholars discuss the resonance of animals and animality as key themes that feed into the films’ questions of horror, gender, women, and social relations. The recurrence of animal motifs encourages us to read the films through the lens of animality. When we do so, we can see that an animal-inflected wildness itself is what is explored and suggested by shadows, images, and statues throughout the film. Those elements – not just a woman’s hidden or secret life – produce the sense of horror. Starting our analysis here allows animal studies to raise new questions about the role of women in horror films, leading us away from essentialist categories of human and animal to instead focus on a transcendent wildness presented in the 1942 and 1982 Cat People films.”

Death and Collective Autobiography: identifying multiple authorization in Silverlake Life: The View from Here

By Gabriel Kitofi Tonelo

EXCERPT: “The kind of cooperative autobiography seen in Silverlake Life, in terms of a ‘multiply authorized autobiographical documentary’, occurs due to the impossibility of fulfilling an initial autobiographical impulse by a filmmaker. In those cases, narratorial control is interrupted by external events such as, in Joslin’s film, the filmmaker-autobiographer’s death. This kind of collaborative process which stems from the interruption of a filmmaker-autobiographer’s access to the creation of their film was little anticipated in the history of autobiographical documentaries at the time of the release of Silverlake Life. Despite the large number of such films released since then, it remains one of the few finished cinematic examples in which strategies for the completion of an autobiographical endeavor had to be thought through and enacted.”

Affective Production Value on Queer Community Television: A Case Study of the Gay Cable Network and Gay USA

By Lauren Herold

EXCERPT: “For twenty years, GCN provided LGBTQ people with both sobering political coverage of issues generally missing from mainstream television journalism and entertainment programming infused with a queer sensibility. While not a television network in the traditional sense – GCN had neither its own cable channel nor a system of affiliates through which to disseminate its programming – its founder and executive producer, Lou Maletta, who passed away in 2011, did distribute his series via videotape to a number of cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Chicago, and San Francisco. The word ‘network’ in the title was in some sense aspirational: Maletta hoped to one day create a profitable cable channel devoted to LGBTQ programming, a dream he never fulfilled (but that came to fruition in 2005 with the creation of Logo TV). While neither a commercial broadcast television network nor widely distributed via cable, GCN did provide a form of networked connectivity that allowed LGBTQ people interested in producing community media to do so long before the creation of digital and social media platforms in the 2000s.”

Read Herold’s “Strategic Advocacy at the GLAAD Media Awards: An Interview with Rich Ferraro”

The Category Is: Streaming Queer Television

By Zoë Shacklock

EXCERPT: “The Foucauldian ‘discursive explosion’ I identify is based on the period of 2019–2021, during which this research was undertaken – a period that also saw an explosion in both the number of streaming services available and the number of subscribers to those services. Streaming, not unlike queerness itself, is something of a mobile entity, a field that changes faster than our attempts to map it. While this work provides a snapshot of the specific discursive construction of queerness at this point in time, it also seeks to provide a foundation for future explorations and encounters with streaming interfaces – queerness may be constructed differently by the streaming services of the future, but it will still, of course, be constructed.”

2022 SCMS Queer & Trans Caucus Chris Holmlund Graduate Student Writing Prize

“Queer Times in Moonlight

By Míša Stekl

EXCERPT: Moonlight’s narrative only appears to progress from the challenges that Chiron faced as a child, nicknamed ‘Little’, to his adult reconciliation with his sexual identity and with his estranged lover, Kevin. If we look more closely, differential repetitions disturb the linearity of this coming-of-age plot: adult Chiron’s dreams reiterate Little’s childhood traumas; adult Chiron’s identity as ‘Black’ (his chosen name) is styled after the aesthetics and drug-dealing career of his childhood mentor, Juan; and even the film’s cinematic cuts tend to confront viewers with a multiplicity of repetitions with a difference, or perhaps repetitions of difference.”


Review by Ash Kinney d’Harcourt

Transmasculinity on Television by Patrice Oppliger, Routledge, 2022

“…advances the research endeavor of examining on-screen transmasculinity which has so far received scant scholarly attention.”

Review by Angie Fazekas

A Queer Way of Feeling: Girl Fans and Personal Archives of Early Hollywood by Diana W. Anselmo, University of California Press, 2023

“As Anselmo makes clear in this important and compelling contribution to fan studies, modern American film culture owes a great deal to the activities and attachments of teenage girls.”

Review by Henry Powell

Digital Space and Embodiment in Contemporary Cinema by Jennifer Kirby, Routledge, 2022

“…a fascinating account of the changing ways that cinema has dealt with and commented upon our relationship with digital technology and artificial forms of consciousness.”

Related Content

Moonlight: Screening Queer Black Youth

By Maria Flood and Victor Evans

This podcast episode features Drs. Maria Flood and Victor Evans in conversation about Barry Jenkins’ landmark film Moonlight (2016). Read more about Dr. Flood’s book and order here: https://www.routledge.com/Moonlight-Screening-Black-Queer-Youth/Flood/p/book/9780367151393

Casting Closets, Casting Spells: An Interview with Andrew J. Owens & Alfred L. Martin, Jr.

LGBTQ+ Media Studies Reading List

Related Announcements

SCMS Queer & Trans Caucus Chris Holmlund Graduate Student Writing Prize