Remember November 4, 2008? Obama won! Gays lost! Many gay Americans had been hotly anticipating the end of the Bush Era, but their wide-scale repudiation in the form of the passage of Proposition 8 in California made the day’s triumph seem something like a Pyrrhic victory, especially since that bigot-fueled ballot measure overturning legalized gay marriage was just one of many pro-hate measures adopted across the country. However, only a scant hundred days into the Obama administration, there are signs of brighter times ahead. On March 18, our new president formally endorsed the U.N. declaration calling for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that his predecessor had refused to sign. And this April the country was stunned by the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling that its state’s same-sex marriage ban violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples. In other words, these ongoing local civil rights battles—both won and lost—have ensured that gays and lesbians are now a major part of the nightly news media cycle in the U.S., and they have moved to the center of the American culture wars. The tide is turning decisively in favor of gay rights, despite occasional setbacks.
In cinemas, things seem as simultaneously hopeful and regressed as they do in the U.S. at large. In the past four or five years, there’s been something of an explosion of queerness on film—for better or worse—from the undercover “bromances” of Judd Apatow to the drag-pastiche of Todd Haynes to the overt politicization of Milk, to the ever-expanding circuit of gay exploitation knockoffs, including, as always, spoofs of mainstream popular culture and coming-of-age/coming-out narratives. And we mustn’t forget Brokeback’s multiple wins at the Academy Awards. A gay film isn’t necessarily ghettoized any more, but gay cinema is not exactly out of its niche market, either.
Then again, what constitutes (or ever has constituted) a “gay” film? With the days of the unofficial New Queer Cinema movement in American independent filmmaking now in the not-too distant past, who’s picking up the slack? Click here to read the rest of our introduction to our 24th symposium, RS Prop. 24: Defining a New Queer Cinema. And then, move on to the articles, including expansive takes on Broken Sky, The Wire, Be Like Others, The House of Mirth, Lan Yu, Far from Heaven, Milk, Casino Royale, and Hairspray, and essays on the Bromance and the Queer Prestige Film. And moving forward, each day we’ll highlight one of them right here on Reverseblog so you don’t miss one hot minute.