I will admit to a difficult, but not entirely negative, relationship to the nihilistic queer media of my youth in the 90s.
It’s what I grew up on, and what I reciprocated in my own writings of the time. Despite the progressive, laid-back image, the 90s still had a lot to feel hopeless and pessimistic about as queer youth. My formative young adult sexual experiences began under both the continuing spectre of AIDS as well as under Texas sodomy laws. Not to mention, um, Texas. Matthew Sheppard was only a bit older than me, and a year later a drag queen/trans lady (like myself) in the same scene I performed in that was saving money for transition was stabbed 60 times and dumped in a ditch.
So, I mean, I get the appeal of the medium. I also get the cheeky “scribble an anarchy symbol on your high school notebook and call it politics” attitude fueling writer(?) Tomas Allende’s recent screed in some neoreactionary buzzword factory imaginatively named “Trigger Warning”. Yawn. It’s a rambling, premise-less manifesto basically insisting that transgressive art, and thus “queer culture” is exclusively the realm of angry edgy gay boys that jerk off to anime. Double yawn.
That said, the article opens up promisingly enough. Allende describes the struggles of his closeted youth in Chile, a story I can deeply sympathise, along with his awakening through discovering the Greg Araki movie The Living End. A damn fine movie.
He then states:
“Queer cinema was not about married same-sex couples with a furry pet in the suburbs. It was the disenfranchised, the freaks, and the non-apologetic crowd of queers that served no purpose other than to be themselves. It was nihilistic, pointless, and fucking fabulous.”
And I’m inclined to agree.
I’m quite familiar with the films of Araki and Todd Haynes, as well as similarly bleak works like the short stories of Dennis Cooper and darkly humorous romps like “I Shot Andy Warhol”. I have a soft spot in my heart for all those tragic transsexual movies that I’m supposed to hate. If the story involved some nervous twenty-something trying butt stuff for the first time in the second act and then dying tragically in the third, I was probably all about it in the 90s.
Strangely enough, this protest by Allende against banal gay assimilation just sort of hangs in the air, and is never elaborated on. In fact, things he says paragraphs later completely negate it.
Allende then begins gibbering the same sort of tired knee-jerk incomprehensible MRGay boilerplate about “third-wave feminism” you’d expect from the sort of chronic masturbator that would still have the Gamergate hashtag in his Twitter bio in 2016. Wait, holy shit he actually does. You can’t make this up.
It’s interesting, because second-wave feminism wasn’t exactly friendly to or inclusive of gay folks at the time. It took the intervention of a lot of folks now considered part of the core of the third-wave movement to reconcile the archaic racism and homophobia of the second wave.
Bringing up real history hardly means anything in this context, because Allende isn’t actually talking about culture. He talks about movies. He believes video games are a political movement. He admits the wild bareback fucking hard-partying boys in his cinema daydreams bear no reflection on his actual life. He exists in some reactionary simulacrum of the radical queer life he both idealizes and loathes.
I find it interesting that, despite claiming to be a fan of Greg Araki he spends two paragraphs railing against formation of sexual identity. Araki made A GODDAMN TRILOGY of movies about literally that. Totally Fucked Up is about exploring the boundaries of homosexuality, Doom Generation is about exploring the boundaries of heterosexuality (literally billed as “A Heterosexual Movie by Greg Araki“, and Nowhere explores a sexual landscape akin to pansexuality. If you don’t believe that term existed back then, here’s queer actor Alan Cumming describing himself as such in gay magazine OUT in 1999.
Allende: “The characters in those films… would never attempt to garner pity”
Even after denying that queer folks experience oppression (or something), Allende laments how “being gay meant abuse, rejection, and the possibility of contracting an incurable disease which could lead to a horrendous death”… in the past tense.
Newsflash: HIV is still around. It would take more fingers than I have to count off the number of folks I consider reasonably close that have to deal with it as an immediate medical reality. There are still a staggering amount of homeless queer youth, due to rejection and abuse at home.
In any case, while dudes like Tomas are sitting at home watching 20+ year old movies and harboring political views less radical than my grandparents, there are people actually living in queer culture. Working to develop and upkeep sustainable communities of support. Making our own art to communicate with each other.
Maybe we don’t need you or your tired-ass homocon opinions.