Pride Month on The Marquee: Queer Visibility in Film
From the rainbow feather boas to the flags draped as capes to the glittery tutus, Pride season screams for self-expression. It’s a moment to be fully queer and celebrated, whether you’re flaunting your sparkle at parades and parties, or calling up loved ones to cheer them on for being themselves. As a trans person, it’s been a trek to find my true self, or at least a closer version of it. Self-expression came second to getting through the day without being misgendered. Now, after transitioning and reaching a critical mass of support from friends and family, I look for ways to be visible as queer and trans.
Films help with that.
Moviemakers are curators of looks and feelings that can take inner experience and bring it out. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) offered subversive space for gender-bending revelry, especially with the audience participation and theatre-blending (I relished playing the besequined role of Columbia in our undergrad performance alongside the movie). Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001) peeled back another layer with rock and roll rage, musical emotionality, and unabashed style. I loved To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), for standing out on the side of feminism and queerness, which was uncommon for media of its time.
There is still so far to go. Movies championing queer self-expression are still too few and narrow in the kinds of people and genders they represent. Yet there is incredible power through this medium to reach those who need it most, to reveal new angles of self-expression, and to celebrate beauty and style that’s uniquely queer.
Morgan Boecher is an arts marketer who has worked at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Signature Theater, and is currently at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Morgan, an artist himself, is the creator of the comic What’s Normal, Anyway?