Coming TogetherThe Cinematic Elaboration of Gay Male Life, 1945-1979

Coming TogetherThe Cinematic Elaboration of Gay Male Life, 1945-1979

Ryan Powell

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226634234

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book is a historiographic exploration of the first wave of films made as a part of the consolidation of gay liberation movement politics and philosophy in the U.S. between the mid 1940s and the late 1970s. It looks at how numerous kinds of film, movie-going contexts and industrial materials (advertisements, posters, reviews) operated in relation to gay liberationist discourse. A primary consideration is how this body of 200+ films—including home movies, avant-garde and experimental films, feature length independent dramas, and hardcore porn—moved beyond representational concerns to offer complex elaborations of what it might mean to be a participant in gay life. The book weaves together an expansive range of archival materials and case studies, exploring how proto gay and gay liberation era cinema took form through discourses both dominant and countercultural, how specific places and moments fostered censorship-challenging, antinormative cinema and cinema-going practices, and how gay cinema facilitated new and emergent publics. Through four chapters, the book charts changes in film and promotion as the sociopolitical organization of male-desiring men moved from a discourse of homosexuality to one of gay liberation, showing how both were taken up as self-reflexive zones of cultural production and performance.