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THE SAD YOUNG MAN IN PURGATORY: Â How has pre-Stonewall iconography contributed to the representation and identity of the gay community?


“LOST THAT WOUNDED FAG LOOK”

American poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) once observed that the participants in the Stonewall riots of June 1969 had,


The traditional preconception of what was thought to be a submissive and insubstantial minority of sociM\a PIL JMMV Æ]VO W]\ \PM _QVLW_ IVL ITWVO _Q\P Q\ Æ]VO open the closet door. The decades leading up to the riots were described by cultural critic Michael Bronski as the “karmic aftershocks of the cultural eruptions of the postwar years”. The civil rights movement and counterculture of the 50s and 60s were a crucial point in history which left UIVa UQVWZQ\QM[ QV I XW[Q\QWV WN  QVLMÅVQ\M XW[[QJQTity. America had been ripped bare, as Bronski observes:

“TWO OF   THE   MAJOR   P R E O C C U P A T I O N S   WITHIN   THIS

C U  L  T  U  R  A  L    F  L  U  X  : SEXUALITY   AND   G E N D E R WHICH   IN   COMBINATION   WITH   ONE   ANOTHER, PRODUCED   A   CULTURAL   FIXATION   ON   H O M O S E X U A L I T Y ”


In this dissertation I will be exploring the parallels between \PM KWVÅVMUMV\ WN  \PM WXXZM[[ML XZMTQJMZI\QWV PWUW[M`]IT and the metaphorical context of Purgatory. I want to apXZWIKP\PMY]M[\QWVWN PW_\PQ[\PMUMKWV\QV]ML\WQVÆ]MVKML this image of the “wounded fag” throughout the the gay liberation movement and whether or not it still affects us today. I intend to investigate the suggestion and expression of the IM[\PM\QKWN MV\ZIXUMV\_PQKPQ[QUXTQMLQVÅTU1_QTTJM\ISQVOQV\WIKKW]V\ÅTU[NZWUXZM4QJMZI\QWVMZIL]ZQVO\PM\QUM WN ;\WVM_ITTIVLXW[\4QJMZI\QWVMZIÅTU[QVKT]LQVOUWLMZV ÅTU[ +QVMUI XTIaML I P]OM ZWTM QV ZMXZM[MV\QVO OIa UMV QV a time when they were forced to live by constricting codes and methods in order to survive. The way in which these characters were stereotyped or presented to us has aided the way in which society perceives and treats gay men throughout history.


“ P U R G A T O R Y IS THE   RESOLUTE   B R E A K I N G -­ D O W N ,   AT   WHATEVER   COST, OF   THE   PRISON   WALLS SO   THAT   THE   SOUL   MAY   BE   ABLE TO   EMERGE   AT   LAST   INTO

L

I

B

E

R

T

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AND ENDURE   UNSCATHED   THE   UNVEILED   LIGHT   OF   R E A L I T Y . ”


B

efore Stonewall we can easily note similarities between the pre-liberation gay community and Purgatory. Italian poet WN \PMUQLLTMIOM[,IV\M\MTT[][QVPQ[,Q^QVM+WUMLa\PI\ Mount Purgatorio is the spiritual realm which separates Inferno (Hell) from Paradiso (Heaven). The homologous relation. Purgatory is said to be a domain of entrapment; where sinners await judgement, wandering lost souls caged in enigmatic inLMÅVQ\MNI\M<PQ[PWUWTWOW][ZMTI\QWV\WPWUW[M`]IT[QVXZM Stonewall iconography is a recurring theme in the majority of texts that deal with gay themes. From the book covers of pre;\WVM_ITTÅK\QWV_Q\PQTT][\ZI\MLKPIZIK\MZ[[M\IOIQV[\IJTMIS urban backdrop, adopting downcast sombre gazes to the surreal _WZTL[KZMI\MLJaI^IV\OIZLMÅTUUISMZ[WN \PM[][QVOIKtors plucked from street corners to play vulnerable young men we are relentlessly being presented with Purgatorial connotations.

Similar to that of the Angry Young Men in British Kitchen Sink Dramas; literature movements such as the BeatGeneration writers also adhered to the characteristics of a “the lost soul”, communicating a sense of defeat and frustration with the world. Many of these poets were gay, such as legendary Allen Ginsberg who’s 1956 poem Howl dealt with homosexual issues and the restriction middle-class America placed on society to conform to the idyllic image of the NuKTMIZ NIUQTa [XTI[PML IKZW[[ \PM XIOM[ WN  4QNM 5IOIbQVM Exile, segregation and detachment became fundamental attrib]\M[_Q\PQV\PMY]MMZ[]JKWUU]VQ\a_PW_MZM]VIJTM\WÅ\QV\W this bracket. This detachment has anchored them by a deep rooted category in history; and continues to manifest itself in gay culture. My fundamental argument is that pre-Stonewall OIaKWUU]VQ\QM[_Q\P\PMQZ[]XXW[MLTaLMÅIVKMWN +PZQ[\QIV beliefs, were much like that of the inhabitants of Purgatory


“THE PURGATORIO,   LIKE   THE   INFERNO, IS-­   NECCESSARILY   -­   CONCERNED   WITH   SOULS   WHO   ARE SUFFERING   FOR   THE   PENALTY   FOR   SIN.”


We can easily analogise Purgatory to the process of “coming out” as it is a social simulation of entering a new world. This in turn leads onto surrealism and escapism which are also important topics to focus on. These methods are used to convey a separate world in which artists create in order to avoid the [\QÆQVO[WKQITKWVLQ\QWV[\PMa_MZMNWZKML\WTQ^M_Q\PI\\PM\QUM :M^WT]\QWVIZa )UMZQKIV VW^MTQ[\ +PZQ[\WXPMZ 1[PMZ_WWL (1904-1986) once labelled this constriction as “the heterosexual dictatorship”. At a time when America was governed by ironclad family morals, there did not seem to be a place for the ‘deviants’ whom did not balance out this social equilibrium.


Analysing the representation of gay men in the media alTW_[][\W]VLMZ[\IVLPW_\PMaLQLVW\PI^MILQOVQĂ&#x2026;ML place in society; Who did gay men look to in the media to identify with and how did this shape the queer community?


The gay community before Stonewall were indeed a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;static socie\aÂźTWKSMLQV\WXTIKM]VXZWOZM[[Q^MI[ILQ^Q[QWVKWVĂ&#x2026;VMLJa\PM restraints society placed upon them. The majority were co-operatively silent,and tolerant of the oppression forced on them; simply because there were no other options. Homosexuality was only addressed indirectly, both in the media and in reality, forcing the queer community to express themselves through other channels in which it was permitted. Two of these I will be discussing are literature and cinema. It is this detachment from reality, manifesting itself within the associated iconography, I will be focusing on.


STONEWALL 1969


“THERE WAS   A   VERY   VOLATILE   ACT   OF   FEELING ESPECIALLY   AMONG   YOUNG   PEOPLE. PEOPLE   ASK   WHAT   WAS   SPECIAL  ABOUT  THAT  NIGHT   OF   THE   STONEWALL   RIOTS. EVERYTHING   CAME   TOGETHER   THAT   NIGHT,   ONE   OF   THOSE   MOMENTS   IN   HISTORY IF   YOU   WERE   THESE   YOU   JUST   KNEW,   THIS   WAS   IT.

THIS IS   WHAT   WE’VE   BEEN   WAITING   FOR”  

+ZIQL:WL_MTT*MNWZM;\WVM_ITT (Documentary-1984)


O

n the night of the Stonewall riots the tide had turned. This momentous event triggered the beginning of what we now know as sexual equality; a notion which is predominant in modern culture. We can now place Stonewall in a chronological and social timeline of the evolution of sexual oppression and notice a clear shift in power within the civil rights spectrum. The inevitable friction in social struggles was visible at the dawn of the seventies. The sixties was a melting pot of developing attitudes towards gender, sexuality, empowerment, conventions and freedom. Racial liberation and feminism were now stronger than ever. It was only a matter of time before gay men realised it was their \]ZV IVL JMOIV \W ÅOP\ JIKS <PMQZ QV\MOZI\QWV QV\W \PM UMdia was, by now, inescapably evident. Although still somewhat stigmatized, their communities grew stronger geographically, in terms of ‘gay ghettos’ and pockets of ‘gay friendly’ neighbourhoods. The combination of these underlying issues boiling beneath the surface of the progressive New York, with its well established liberal milieu, was now on the verge of eruption.


The burial of Judy Garland played out as a thespian omen of the events that unfolded on the same day at the Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, New York. The coincidental symbolism of these two intertwining historical landmarks seems as if it were almost scripted for some wailing opera; with the queer-canonized heroine fallen, ensued the chaos unleashed by the wrath of the gays. In the early hours of June 28 1969 The Stonewall Inn was subjected to a regulation police raid and following two nights of rioting from gay men, lesbians and drag queens; their liberation movement was born.


“AND THEN   WOULD   I, LIKE   ALL   THE   OTHERS, FIND   MYSELF   FOLLOWING   ALL   KINDS

OF BOYS   DOWN   GOD   KNOWS WHAT  DARK  AVENUES, INTO  WHAT  DARK  PLACES?”

-Giovanni’s Room (1956)


I

t is interesting to see that simultaneously, running parITTMT \W \PM JZQ\Q[P )VOZa AW]VO 5MV WN  ÅN\QM¼[ IVL [Q`tie’s cinema was their homosexual counterpart. This was a whole other subculture were identifying with IV MV\QZMTa [MXIZI\M JZMML WN  ÅK\QWVIT KPIZIK\MZ[ \PM

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Richard Dyer, a cinema specialist academic and other critics have written extensively about this interpretation of gay life in the media, and have debated whether or not it was an appropriate representation. This is particularly highlighted in his essay ¹+WUQVOW]\I[OWQVOQV"<PMQUIOMWN \PMPWUW[M`]ITI[I[IL young man”. These individuals were the supposedly ‘hopeless’ 4W[\;W]T[\PI\ILWZVML/Ia8]TX.QK\QWVKW^MZ[IVLÅTUXW[\MZ[


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WUXIZQVO\_WKWV\ZI[\QVOXWTIZ[WN UI[K]TQVQ\a#1V4WWS Back in Anger (1959) the angry young man stereotype is personiÅMLJa2QUUaI^ITQIV\UWVWKPZWUM[\aTQbMLXWZ\ZIaITWN ZM[\TM[[ PM\MZW[M`]ITUMV[MTN XZWKTIQUMLI[JMQVO¹N]TTWN ÅZMº0W_ever in Tea and Sympathy (1956) the homosexual equivelant is XWZ\ZIaMLJa<WU4MM_PWN]TÅT[\PM_MTTM[\IJTQ[PMLKQVMUI\QK role of the “sissy boy”, ridiculed by his school mates and seeking comfort in the company of an older woman. Dirk Bogarde is a brilliant example of the Sad Young Man in Victim (1961), IÅTUIJW]\PWUW[M`]ITJTIKSUIQT<PM\Q\TMWN \PMÅTUPQOPlights the passive helplessness prescribed to gay men in this era. This established sense of melancholia which was so inherently attached to homosexual culture before the gay movement lends a quality of what can clearly be interpreted as ‘purgatory’ to the image of the Sad Young Man. It is a stereotype _PQKP_I[ZMO]TIZTaMVKW]ZIOML_Q\PQVVW^MT[ÅTU[IVLXTIa[


A

VW\PMZ QVĂ&#x2020;]MV\QIT NWZU WN  OIa QKWVWOZIXPa _I[ \PM Ă&#x2026;TU posters and book covers illustrating gay life in pre-Stonewall times. Before cinema was used on a wider spectrum I[ I \WWT NWZ OIa I]LQMVKM[ \W ZMTI\M \W IVL QLMV\QNa _Q\P Ă&#x2026;Ktional characters, an important channel for homosexualQ\a \W JM LQ[K][[ML _Q\PQV I [INMTa U]NĂ&#x2020;ML ]VLMZOZW]VL []JK]T\]ZM \WWS \PM NWZU WN  X]TX Ă&#x2026;K\QWV JWWS KW^MZ[

The calibre of which varied massively between â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;drugstore book rack trashâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; to highly respected works of literature. Often characterised by a narrative thread of self-loathing, tragic endings and IKWV[\IV\KWVĂ&#x2020;QK\JM\_MMVLM[QZMIVL[PIUM\PM[MJWWS[QVKT]LM celebrated classics such as James Baldwinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Giovanniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Room !2WPV:MKPaÂź[+Q\aWN 6QOP\!IVL+PZQ[\WXPMZ Isherwoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s A Single Man (1964). Because of their artistic attributes, the beauty of language and empathetic overtones these novels, in particular, brought the topic to the surface of public discussion, shedding more light on a previously hushed subject.


Often depicted by illustrations conveying the tortured psychology attached to homosexual inner-dissension, such as the frequently recycled image of pensive men alienated from the rest of society, against an isolated backdrop, downcast eyes, languid body language and hopeless expressions. This imagery coupled with \IOTQVM[[]KPI[¹4W[\QVI<_QTQOP\?WZTLWN 4WVMTQVM[[ºIVL “They lived in fear, loved in secret” outlines the emphasis the media put on the thematic sorrow surrounding the issue. The ;ILAW]VO5IVKWV\ZQJ]\ML\W_IZL[LMÅVQVOOIaUMVI[^QKtims and criminals simultaneously. Such as Baldwin’s David in Giovanni’s Room who is torn between his olbigation towards PQ[ÅIVKMM0MTTIIVLPQ[KWV[]UQVOMUW\QWV[NWZPQ[TW^MZ/QWvanni. Michael Bronski reinforces this stance in his book Pulp Friction, Uncovering the Golden Age of the Gay Male Pulps,

“THIS IS   ONE   OF   THE   MOST   DEEPLY   INSCRIBED   MYTHS   OF   THE   LAST   THREE   DECADES-­ THE   GAY   NOVEL   OR   FILM   IN   WHICH   THE   LONG   SUFFERING   USUALLY   SELF   HATING   HERO   OR   HEROINE  IS  DOOMED  TO  DIE AT  HIS  OR  HER  OWN  HANDS,   THUS   ENACTING   THE   I N E V I T A B L E ,   IMPLICITLY   DESERVED   FATE   OF   ALL   HOMOSEXUALS”


It is this portrayal of gay men before sexual liberation which many critics and activists have argued over whether this repZM[MV\I\QWVWN IPWUW[M`]ITQ\a_I[JMVMÅKQIT\WIVWXXZM[[ML minority. “Is it good for the gays?” was a question posed by Michael Bronski in the introduction of his book, Pulp Fric\QWV 0W_ LW \PM[M \M`\[ QVÆ]MVKM \PM ZMXZM[MV\I\QWV WN  such a fragile issue? We can now see the structured foundation which rejection has lent to the queer community, much like those who fought for black power and women’s rights. Although many of us resist from being connectML _Q\P \PM \ZI[PQMZ M`IUXTM[ WN  XZM;\WVM_ITT ÅKtion, as Michael Bronski phrases it; we cannot deny, “Even with their exaggerations, high-queen dramatics, silly (even naïve) eroticism, and sometimes internalised homophobia, they give us a glimpse of what it meant to be a gay man in the tumultous years before Stonewall.”


“UNDERGROUND FILM   WAS   THE   SPACE   IN   WHICH

GAY CINEMA   COULD   EMERGE   AT   THE   TIME

GAY FILM   COULD   BE   MADE   IN   THAT   SPACE,   PARTLY   BECAUSE   ITS   OVERLAPS   OF

A V A N T -­ G A R D E AND   GAY   MILEUX

AND THE   IMPORTANCE   OF   HOMOSEXUAL   IMAGERY   IN   WHAT   INFORMED   THE   U N D E R G R O U N D

(FREUDIANISM, THE    NOVEL    OF

ALIENATION, CAMP   AND   POP   ART) BUT   ABOVE   ALL   BE-­ CAUSE   OF   THE   UNDER-­ GROUND   CINEMA’S   DEFINITION   OF   CINEMA   AS   ‘PERSONAL’”


T

he 1960s in New York was an integral time for the ar\Q[\QK KWUU]VQ\a _Q\P I XZWOZM[[Q^M ÆW_ WN  KZMI\Q^M NZMMLWU# Q\_I[I\QUM_PQKPITTW_MLIZ\Q[\[IVLÅTUUISMZ[\WM`XZM[[ themselves freely and openly. This was something which the gay community responded to very strongly. It was a time to disregard the orthodox Hollywood approaches to cinema, ignore opinions of art critics and defy social boundaries of what America condoned as traditional codes of behaviour and lifestyle. ?PI\ I^IV\OIZLM ÅTUUISMZ IVL _ZQ\MZ 2WVI[ 5MSI[ ZMferred to as “treading on the very edge of perversity” these artists were “ without inhibitions, sexual or any other kind”. Pg number A savage mutation of squeaky clean American ideals and a visual replication of the threat of deviance that was allegedly thriving throughout their nation.


Not only was the popularity of underground gay bars such as the Stonewall Inn becoming more frequent and recognised, despite constant raids by the police, but also a revolutionary M`XTW[QWV_I[PIXXMVQVOQV]VLMZOZW]VLKQVMUI<PM[MÅTU[ were an important contribution to Queer society because of their refusal to adhere to Hollywood conventions. There was WN\MV I LMÅIVKM QV \PM[M ÅTU[ \W_IZL[ WZ\PWLW` XZIK\Q[M[ QV \MZU[ WN  ÅTUUISQVO# LMÅVQ\QWV KTIZQ\a M`XTIVI\QWV [\Z]Kture and realism were no longer necessities. They took inspiration from pop culture, sexuality, and surrealism to produce masterpieces, embracing seedy grotesque and poetic beauty.


“ T H E FASHIONED MODELS  

Y OF  

S U B J E C T I V I T Y AND   DESIRE

Kenneth Anger, Jack Smith, Andy Warhol and James Bidgood _MZMIUWVO[\[WUMWN \PMUW[\QVÆ]MV\QIT]VLMZOZW]VLÅTU UISMZ[WN \PQ[LMKILM#XZWL]KQVO[WUMWN \PMUW[\QVÆ]MV\QIT examples of Queer iconography that has shaped the gay community today. Writer Juan Suarez explains in his book, Bike *Wa[,ZIO9]MMV[IVL;]XMZ[\IZ[")^IV\/IZLM5I[[+]T\]ZMIVL/Ia1LMV\Q\QM[QV\PM!¼[=VLMZOZW]VL+QVMUI

THAT REFLECTED   THE   EXPERIENCES   OF   THE   (MALE)   URBAN   GAY   COMMUNITIES   OF   THE   TIME. IN   SO   DOING,   THEY   DEPARTED   FROM   THE   GENDER   POLITICS   OF   MAINSTREAM   COMMERCIAL   CULTURE YET   AT   THE   SAME   TIME,   THEY   EXPLORED   THE   TRANSGRESSIVE  POTENTIAL

EMBEDDED POPULAR  

IN FORMS”


A S I N G L E M A N ( 2 0 0 9 ) B Y T O M F O R D BASED ON   THE   NOVEL   BY C H R I S T O P H E R   ISHERWOOD


“A MINORITY   HAS   ITS   OWN   KIND   OF   AGGRESSION. IT   ABSOLUTELY   DARES   THE   MAJORITY   TO   ATTACK   IT. IT   HATES   THE   MAJORITY-­NOT   WITHOUT   CAUSE   I   GRANT   YOU... DO   YOU   THINK   IT   MAKES   PEOPLE   NASTY   TO   BE   LOVED? THEN  WHY  SHOULD  IT  MAKE   THEM  NICE  TO  BE  LOATHED? WHY,   YOU   WOULDN’T   RECOGNIZE   LOVE   IF   YOU   MET   IT! YOU’D   SUSPECT   LOVE! YOU’D   THINK   THERE   WAS   SOMETHING   BEHIND   IT -­SOME   MOTIVE-­ SOME   TRICK...”


“THAT’S WHAT   THE   STORY   IS   ABOUT   FOR   ME:

THAT ISOLATION   WE   CAN   ALL   FEEL   EVEN   THOUGH   WE   ARE   SURROUNDED   BY   PEOPLE.”

Tom Ford-


+

hristopher Isherwood’s masterpiece A Single Man is an ideal example of the traditional homosexual driven by aspects of tragedy. Dubbed by American novelist Edmund White as “the founding text of modern gay literature” the 1964 novel tells the [\WZaWN ILMÅVQVOLIaQV\PMTQNMWN I]VQ^MZ[Q\aXZWNM[[WZ/MWZOM In 2009 it was adapted to Hollywood cinema as a heavily stylized production by fashion designer, Tom Ford. George’s surroundings, including his own body are repeatedly described as »ITQMV¼\WPQUIVLPMQ[KWV\QV]W][TaQLMV\QÅMLI[IVW]\[QLMZ Not only because of the obvious social barriers which segregate him from his predominantly conformist and conventional peers but also because of his personal circumstances. He is mourning for his partner who has been killed in a car accident previous to the beginning of the book. In this way he is instantly placed in the typecast of a Sad Young Man, resenting most elements of his life and struggling to survive without his lover, Jim.


Furthermore it is this distinction from the rest of the idyllic imagery surrounding George’s life; the residents of his street watering their roses, the children playing cowboys and indians, the almost aching purity in the vibrancy of a little girl’s cyan dress, the rigidness of his co-workers and students at his university, all of them within the sheltering boundaries of their white picket fences. Moreover all of which only accentuates his alQMVI\QWVNZWU\PMZM[\WN PQ[KWUU]VQ\a4Q\MZIZa;KPWTIZ2W[MP Bristow writes in his essay “I am with you, little minority sister” in Patricia Juliana Smith’s book The Queer Sixties that, “it is rather misleading to claim—that “Isherwood’s work IV\QKQXI\M[ \PM OIaTQJMZI\QWV XMZ[XMK\Q^M \PI\ _W]TL ÆW_er in the aftermath of the 1969 Stonewall riots.” This perspective can distort how we understand Isherwood’s historiKIT [QOVQÅKIVKM I[ I _ZQ\MZ [QVKM Q\ MZZWVMW][Ta QUXTQM[ \PI\ PQ[ VW^MT[ Å`I\ML \PMQZ OIbM ]XWV IV MUIVKQXI\QVO N]\]ZM WVM ÅTTML _Q\P \PM [XQZQ\ WN  Y]MMZ ZM^WT]\QWVº *ZQ[\W_


A Single Man, much like Tom Ford as a brand, abides by I [\ZQK\ IM[\PM\QK KWLM ,M[XQ\M Q\[ Ă&#x2020;]QLQ\a .WZL[ ^Q[]IT TIVO]IOM UIQV\IQV[ I LQOVQĂ&#x2026;ML [MV[M WN  LQ[KQXTQVM [QUQTIZ \W that of a starched collar on a designer suit. The experiences /MWZOM\ZI^MT[JM\_MMV\PZW]OPW]\\PMĂ&#x2026;TUIZMKI\MOWZQbMLJa I KWVĂ&#x2020;QK\ WN  I\UW[XPMZM[ IVL P]M[ ;QOVQĂ&#x2026;KIV\ UWUMV\[ IXpear saturated with warmer colours; variation between classic monochrome, to soft pastels, to glowing saturated hues. We IZMUILMI_IZMWN \PMOZI^Q\aWN \PM[KMVMJa\PQ[QV\MV[QĂ&#x2026;ML \ZIV[NWZUI\QWV WN  UQ[MV[KMVM 1\ Q[ \PQ[ KWVĂ&#x2020;QK\ _PQKP ZMsounds continuously throughout the piece, a silent struggle be\_MMV \PM XWQOVIVKa WN  /MWZOM[ M`Q[\MVKM IVL \PM JMI]\QN]T sensual, enlightening single moments he witnesses throughout \PMĂ&#x2026;VITLIaWN PQ[TQNMJZWSMV]XJaIZ]VVQVOXIZITTMTWN  sporadic memories of his life with Jim before the car accident. George wanders the metaphorically sparse dream-like realm WN  4W[ )VOMTM[ _Q\P ]VLMZTaQVO KWV[Q[\MV\ [M`]ITTa LZQ^MV KWV\MUXTI\QWV )T\PW]OP PM Q[ I XTIKQL ZMĂ&#x2026;VML IVL OZIKMful he is privately characterised to his audience by his carnal voyeuristic nature. His encounters with those around him act as fantasies, threaded together by an underlying pulsation of his own desire. We observes shirtless tennis players on his university campus, admires a Hustler outside the liquor shop whilst they share a cigarette and chances upon a meeting with one of his students, Kenny in a bar late at night. Each meeting is prominent; symbolic of his restless distracted existence.


Nonetheless this desire is presented to us as a very obviously animalistic urge which takes no precedency over the undoubtedly sombre ambience of the piece, establishing George’s mourning for Jim. His voyeurism acts as a skeleton, left behind by the corpse of a great love which has died and withered, thus leaving him in an inevitably desolate existence, a notion XZMKWVKMQ^MLJaMIZTQMZOIaÅK\QWV)[:QKPIZL,aMZ IZO]M[QVPQ[M[[Ia¹+WUQVO7]\I[/WQVO1V"<PM Image of the Homosexual as a Sad Young Man” ... The options presented to a gay audience in pre-Stonewall media are seldom, lacking appeal and often hold bleak connotations of condemnation.

“THE WORLD   BEFORE   THE   SAD   YOUNG   MAN   OFFERS  FOUR  RESOLUTIONS:

D E A T H , N O R M A L T Y , BECOMING   A   DREADFUL  OLD  QUEEN   OR,   IN   LATER   TEXTS,     FINDING   ‘SOMEONE   LIKE   ONESELF’   WITH   WHOM   ONE   CAN   SETTLE   DOWN.”


PINK NARCISSUS ( 1 9 7 1 )      BY JAMES  BIDGOOD


“I DIDN’T   SEE   WHY YOU   COULDN’T   TREAT   A

BEAUTIFUL BOY THE  WAY  HOLLYWOOD  DID  A BEAUTIFUL  

WOMAN.”

-James Bidgood


O

ne of the most notorious lost treasure of 1960s gay unLMZOZW]VL IZ\PW][M Ă&#x2026;TU _I[ \PM QKWVQK M[KIXQ[\ KTI[[QK 8QVS 6IZKQ[[][!7ZQOQVITTaKZMLQ\ML\W)VWVaUW][Q\TI\MZ emerged to be the brainchild of New York physique magazine XPW\WOZIXPMZ IVL [M\ LM[QOVMZ 2IUM[ *QLOWWL JWZV ! <PMĂ&#x2026;TUQ[I\MKPVQKWTWZPWUIOM\WPWUWMZW\QKQ[UIVLXPITTWcentric surrealism; set in a Times Square apartment it visualises the sexual fantasies of a New York Hustler. The main character, played by doe eyed pin-up boy Bobby Kendall who is now IVW\IJTMOIaQKWVQ[KIX\]ZMLQV*QLOWWL[LMTQKI\MIM[\PM\QK 5]KP TQSM /MWZOM[ KPIZIK\MZ QV ) ;QVOTM 5IV *WJJa 3MVdall wanders from various scenarios in a deep state of voyeurism. The piece is infamous for its blurred categorization JM\_MMVQ\[KWVVW\I\QWV[_Q\PJW\PIZ\Ă&#x2026;TUIVL[WN\KWZMXWZnography. However it deals with its complex sexual themes in a manner which translates perfectly to the context of the time in which it was released. A hybrid of B-movie Hollywoodiana, avant-garde and kitsch soft-core pornography Pink 6IZKQ[[][ IK\[ I[ I X]ZOI\WZQIT TIVL[KIXM LMĂ&#x2026;VQVO OIa QKWnography. The biker boys, sailors, roman emperors, hustlers, matadors and other sensitive young male characters are crucial symbols relating to different areas of homosexual subcultures.


“HIS FILMS   AND   PHOTOGRAPHY   ARE   A   LINK   BETWEEN

M E ERO R O PHO

D I A T E T I C I S M -­ O M A N T I TOGRAPH

D R   C   Y

AND THAT   WORLD   OF   BLATANT   SEXUAL   REPRESENTATION   IN   WHICH   WE   NOW   LIVE”


The juxtaposition of Bidgoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s intricately assembled camp set LM[QOVIVL\PMPIZ[PMZUWZM^QWTMV\QUIOMZa][MLQV\PMĂ&#x2026;TU KWTTQLM_Q\PXWM\QKĂ&#x2020;]QLQ\a;\]LLMLTMI\PMZRIKSM\[Ă&#x2020;W_MZing meadows, chiffon embellishments, grimy public lavatories, J][\TQVO[\ZMM\[KMVM[NZIOQTMJ]\\MZĂ&#x2020;QM[IVL[ILWUI[WKPQ[\QK U][KTMLĂ&#x2026;O]ZM[KWM`Q[\_Q\PQV\PQ[LZMIUTQSMUQTQM]`WN [aUbols in an amalgamation of masculine and feminine imagery. The ambiguity surrounding the production of Pink Narcis[][PMQOP\MV[Q\[QV\ZQO]MIUWVO[\KZQ\QK[[QVKMQ\_I[Ă&#x2026;VITTa discovered and released in 1971, meaning its development ocK]ZZMLWV\PMK][XWN \PMKMV\]Za[[M`]ITTQJMZI\QWV<PMNIK\ that it was entirely shot in secret from a New York apartment in the early 60s over seven years however was only unleashed \WI]LQMVKM[IN\MZ\PM;\WVM_ITT:QW\[UISM[Q\I^MZaQVĂ&#x2020;]MVtial cinematic piece representing the Queer community. With its hyper sexualised representation of Machismo, infused with \PM^]TVMZIJQTQ\a[]ZZW]VLQVO*QLOWWL[UIQVKPIZIK\MZ*WJJa Kendall, Pink Narcissus was a groundbreaking visual masterpiece that truly holds notability amongst its fellow avant-garde =VLMZOZW]VLĂ&#x2026;TU[WN Q\[OMVMZI\QWV :QKPIZL,aMZPQOPTQOP\[*WJJa3MVLITT[\MVLMZXWZ\ZIaITWN  a hustler as another example of a Sad Young Man. The fact that the reality of his character existing in this halfway limbo between the harsh Times Square setting and his own imaginary sexual fantasies, underlines his environment as :

â&#x20AC;&#x153;URBANISM  AS  â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;ALIENATIONâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; THE   TRADITION   OF   PERCEIVING   THE   CITY   AS   A   WORLD   OF L O N E L I N E S S ,   LOOSENED   MORAL   ORDER F L E E T I N G   IMPERMENENT   CONTACT

AND  LOVE   FOR   SALE.â&#x20AC;?


<PQ[ MKPWM[ \PM XTIQV\Q^M UWWL WN  2WPV :MKPa[ ZM^WT]\QWVIZa OIa VW^MT š+Q\a WN  6QOP\Âş _PQKP \MTT[ \PM [\WZa WN  I New York Hustler in Times Square. The evident depiction of the isolation that the individual is burdened with, in conjunction with their sexuality within the context of an urban city. At the end of Pink Narcissus, Bobby Kendall is confronted by an omen in the form of a customer entering his room. It becomes clear that the old man is, in fact, the inescapable portrayal of himself; suggesting that he may be fresh and desirable in his youth but as this juvenescence fades, all that will be left of him is the solitary category that his sexuality has burdened him with. The effect of the city on the homosexual: the assumed inevitability that he will eventually become a lonely old man, preying on the beautiful young creatures he exists alongside as a hustler. As :QKPIZL,aMZKTIZQĂ&#x2026;MLQVPQ[M[[Iaš=VLMZOZW]VLIVL)N\MZÂş â&#x20AC;&#x153;Here poverty, prostitution, drugs and street life are represented as the condition of America, with homosexuality seen as both symptomatically anomic but also sometimes a genuine grasping after human contactâ&#x20AC;? (Dyer.140)


T H E A N G E L I C   CONVERSATION   ( 1 9 8 7 ) BY   DEREK   JARMAN


“LOVE IS   TOO   YOUNG

TO KNOW   WHAT   CONSCIENCE   IS BUT   WHO   KNOWS   NOT   CONSCIENCE

IS BORN   OF   LOVE”

-William Shakespeare


“ J A R M A N CONTINUALLY   EMPHASISES  

A

coherent link is evident between underground cinema of the [Q`\QM[IVL\PMI^IV\OIZLMM`XMZQUMV\ITÅTU[WN ,MZMS2IZUIV Brutal, raw and with a relentless harrowing energy of chaos PQ[ÅTU[[\WWLW]\I[[WUMWN \PMUW[\LQ[\QVO]Q[PMLIZ\XQMKM[ QV*ZQ\IQVQV\PM! [<PM[XQZQ\WN PQ[ÅTU[[\WWLNWZ\PM [IUMX]ZXW[MI[\PI\WN :MJMT?Q\PW]\I+I][MIVL<PM?QTL One. They were the manifestation of social frustration that contributed to the political zeitgeist during Thatcher Britain. In particular for the gay community it was a period of anxiety.

T H D E S T R U C T I V I N T O L E R A N C P O T E N T I A

E E   E   L

IN ALL   SOCIETIES, PARTICULARLY   WHEN   THEY   ARE   FORCED   TO   CONFRONT   EQUALITY ONLY   IN   THE   ANGELIC   CONVERSATION

DOES PROVIDE   LOVING  

JARMAN A   COUPLE.”


2IZUIV[! XWM\QK[]XMZ Ă&#x2026;TU<PM)VOMTQK+WV^MZ[I\QWV is a pastiche of symbolic imagery; again, the use of dream-like [M\\QVO[ IVL QV\MV[QĂ&#x2026;ML \IJTMI]` NWTTW_QVO I JT]ZZML VIZZI\Q^M broken into nine sections. The piece is synchronous in its idyllic romanticism yet unsettling dystopian nature; the frailty of the love scenes initiate a sense of calm and safety upon the audience, however it is splintered with the industrial danger suggested by spinning radar systems, smoke and burning cars. The narrative NWTTW_[ \PM \_W UMV Ă&#x2026;VLQVO MIKP W\PMZ _ZM[\TQVO MUJZIKQVO making love and ends with both of them separating again. References to cleansing, wandering, hostility, friction, loss, ritualism and spiritualism are blatant and their associations with Purgatory are overtly demonstrated. Jarman has been quoted that he was:

šM`XTWZQVO I TIVL[KIXM 1 PIL VM^MZ [MMV WV Ă&#x2026;TU" IV IZMI of psyche that hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t been projected before. I have seen very few on male love which are gentle, they usually have I ^QWTMV\ []J\M`\<PM )VOMTQK +WV^MZ[I\QWV Q[ OMV\TMÂş


<PM\PMUMWN [M`]ITQ\aQV\PMĂ&#x2026;TUQ[UIQVTaM`XZM[[ML\PZW]OP romanticism as opposed to the harsher more explicit iconography presented to us by Bidgood and Anger in the form of Q\[ ![ ]VLMZOZW]VL IVKM[\WZ[  <PM )VOMTQK +WV^MZ[I\QWV follows its protagonists through an empty landscape of moun\IQV[TISM[KI^MZV[IVLĂ&#x2026;MTL[\WXWZ\ZIa\PMLM[QZMJM\_MMVI [IUM [M` KW]XTM 1V\MZ[MK\ML _Q\P ZMILQVO[ WN  ;PISM[XMIZM[ 14 sonnets. The method of shooting conjures a heightened atmosphere of nostalgia; through its jerky uncertain movement; reminiscent of a slideshow. One of the reasons I have chosen \PQ[ XQMKM Q[ JMKI][M WN  2IZUIV[ XZWUQVMV\ QVĂ&#x2020;]MVKM WV \PM Queer community in the 80s; especially within relevance to the )1,;MXQLMUQKI\\PM\QUM<PMZMNWZM\PQ[Ă&#x2026;TUXTIKM[Q\[MTN WV a timeline representing the evolution of the Queer community. 2IUM[+IZa8IZSM[_ZW\MQVPQ[IZ\QKTM;M`]ITQ\aIVL\PM/Ia Sensibility in the Art of Derek Jarman for The Gay Times:

â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is perhaps peculiar that in the 1980s and 1990s, for PWUW[M`]IT[ I XMZQWL WN  Ă&#x2026;MZKM IV`QM\a IVL LZQ^M \PM [QVO]TIZ XMZ[WVQĂ&#x2026;KI\QWV WN  OIa ZQOP\[ [PW]TL JM IV IZ\Q[\ IVL VW\ a politician; and that this artist should have such a sense of the quasi-mystical, the ethereal and the past. But for gay men the complexities of social pressure and political frus\ZI\QWV VW LW]J\ ZMY]QZM I XWTQ\QKIT IXXZWIKP \PI\ Ă&#x2026;ZM[ \PM QUIOQVI\QWV IVL WVM _PQKP Q[ Ă&#x2026;TTML _Q\P KWUXI[[QWVÂş


It is a compound of scenic juxtapositions resembling an obscure half way point between shelter and hazard. Again, this is still a reoccurring subtext ever present within \M`\[LMITQVO_Q\PPWUW[M`]IT\PMUM[<PM)VOMTQK+WVversation plays out as if it were the aftermath of not only \PM;\WVM_ITTZQW\[J]\WN OIaTQJMZI\QWVI[I_PWTM+WVnotations with death, danger and isolation still loom in the majority of scenes. It forces the audience to ask what [WKQM\a[\WTMZIVKM\W_IZL[PWUW[M`]ITQ\aIZMQVIUWLMZV age. Amidst the fragility and tenderness of The Angelic +WV^MZ[I\QWV_MIZM[\QTTXZM[MV\ML_Q\PWUMV[\PZMI\MVing the reality of gay relationships in the 80s; as if to imply the struggle in the obtainment of love for gay men. Although America and Europe evolved at different paces throughout the civil rights movement and the zeitgeists of each of their sexual liberations may not align precisely, the spirit of freedom was very current at this particular time in history. The widely publicised health dangers of AIDS was widely spread in Western culture at this stage and the struggle to evade stigmatization was a valid similarity between both cultures. In this case, The Angelic +WV^MZ[I\QWVQ[VW\WVTaTWaIT\W\PMUM[WN PWUW[M`]ITity but also to Britain; addressing the political and social decline of England in its presentation of urban tyranny.


“WALK LIKE   A   MAN”:

C O N S T R U C T I N G M A S C U L I N E   R E P R E S E N TAT I O N

T H R O U G H PIN   UP   BOYS, P A N S I E S AND   LEATHER   STUDS”


I

VWZLMZ\W]VLMZ[\IVL)UMZQKI[I\\Q\]LM\W_IZL[PWUW[M`]ITQ\aJMNWZM ;\WVM_ITT_M U][\ Ă&#x2026;Z[\IXXZWIKP\PMY]M[\QWVWN  how masculinity was represented in the media. What was expected of gender in the socially enigmatic period between the end of World War II and Stonewall riots is encoded very KTMIZTa \PZW]OP Ă&#x2026;TU <PM ]VUQ[\ISIJTM TMILQVO PMIZ\\PZWJ[ of the 50s and 60s, including Rock Hudson, James Dean and Marlon Brando, not only made an impact on female audiences but became idols within underground gay culture.


1V!<MIIVL;aUXI\Pa#ILIX\MLNZWU!XTIaJa :WJMZ\)VLMZ[WVLMXQK\ML\PMKWVĂ&#x2020;QK\JM\_MMVUIKPQ[UW culture and gender-role expectations. A pinnacle scene in _PQKP\PMUIQVKPIZIK\MZ<WU4MMQ[\I]OP\PW_\Wš_ITS like a manâ&#x20AC;? after being outcast by his peers as a result of PQ[[]XXW[MLTaNMUQVQVMI\\ZQJ]\M[MUJWLQM[[WKQITI\\Q\]LM[\W_IZL[_PI\Q[IKKMX\IJTMWN UMV1V![:MJMT?Q\PW]\I+I][M\PMPIZUWVaJM\_MMV\PM\_WUITM leads, the dominant Jim Stark (James Dean) and timid Plato (Sal Mineo) in addition to the contrast between traditional red-blooded qualities and subversive sensitivity OI^M\PMĂ&#x2026;TUIZWW\MLXW[Q\QWVQVOQVOIaK]T\]ZM<PMĂ&#x2026;TU emphasized the tenderness of manhood which would challenge the regimented values and gender structures of \PM\QUM<PMZMTI\QWV[PQXJM\_MMV6I\ITQM?WWL[KPIZacter, Plato and Jim echoes that of a purgatorial existence in that, each of them are misunderstood; turning to each other for affection and creating a family unit between \PMU[MT^M[ ZMĂ&#x2020;MK\QVO aM\ IOIQV \PM ITQMVI\QWV ZMKWOVQbML within the psychology of the pre-Stonewall homosexual.


Similar to that of the sad young man, the â&#x20AC;&#x153;sissyâ&#x20AC;? has been a concreted role established in cinemas since the early 20th century. Utilised as an ambiguous insertion between the feUITM IVL UITM OMVLMZ ZWTM[ QV Ă&#x2026;TU Q\ [\IVL[ W]\ I[ 0WTTa_WWL[ Ă&#x2026;Z[\ OIa [\WKS KPIZIK\MZ <PMQZ [XMKQĂ&#x2026;KQ\a WN  \PMQZ [M`]ITQ\a _I[ VM^MZ LMĂ&#x2026;VML WZ LQ[K][[ML 1\ _I[ [QUXTa QTlustrated through their comedic value, considered by many as sheer crudeness. We can also see this same pattern occurring QV <MI IVL ;aUXI\Pa QV <WU 4MM[ KPIZIK\MZ JMQVO LMUIZcated from his macho peers who mock him with derogative VIUM[  []KP I[ [Q[\MZJWa# W]\TQVQVO IV WJ^QW][ Q[[]M _Q\P sexual obscurity and renouncing him from a community unit. We can see this parallel in pre-Stonewall literature again in :MKPa[+Q\aWN 6QOP\<PMZMQ[IVM^WKI\QWVWN ZML]VLIVKaQV effeminacy on a repetitive basis, the narrator explains no customer would pay for sex from a feminine hustler when they could OM\Q\NWZNZMMNZWUI_WUIV1V<MVVM[[MM?QTTQIU[! play A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche describes her husband, who committed suicide after his homosexuality being discovMZMLI[PI^QVOšI[WN\VM[[IVL\MVLMZVM[[_PQKP_I[V\TQSMI UIV[Âş1\Q[KTMIZ\W[MMI\ZILQ\QWVWN \ZIOMLaQV\PQ[KWV\M`\


1V ! <PM ?QTL 7VM ZMQVNWZKML I TMI\PMZKTIL 5IZTWV *ZIVLW[QKWVQK[\I\][NWTTW_QVOPQ[XMZNWZUIVKMI[\M[\W[\MZWVM XMZ[WVQĂ&#x2026;ML;\IVTMaQV\PMĂ&#x2026;TUILIX\I\QWVWN ![);\ZMM\KIZ6IUML,M[QZM.QVITTaQV!3MVVM\P)VOMZZMTMI[MLPQ[ underground cinematic tribute to pop-culture, Scorpio Rising, which once again, contorted interpretations of masculinity by utilising motorcycle heritage within a queer context. How sigVQĂ&#x2026;KIV\IZM\PM[MĂ&#x2026;O]ZM[_Q\PQVOIaK]T\]ZM'<PM[\IZ[WN MIKP of these movies have acquired a powerful gay following and in turn, remain cultural symbols of not only their evident masculinity, but also their connotations within homosexual semiotics.


One of the leading heart-throbs of the 50s and 60s, Rock Hudson, who shocked the public when his homosexuality was discovered, referenced to as the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Secret Torment of the Baron of Beefcakeâ&#x20AC;? and his â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jekyll and Hyde ExpeZQMVKMÂşQVUIOIbQVMIZ\QKTM[<PMVW\QWV\PI\IVWZUIT clean cut, butch, decent, all-american boy could possibly adhere to the same lifestyle as the examples of the Sad Young Man, The Sissy and screaming queens laid before ][QV\PMUMLQILQLVW\JITIVKM[WKQM\a[XZMKWVKMX\QWV[ about gender stereotypes. These were images that America was not only conditioned into identifying with, but also felt KWUNWZ\IJTM_Q\PSMMXQVO_Q\PQVIĂ&#x2026;ZUTa[P]\XQOMWVPWTM


“ANGER’S HOMAGE   TO   THE   MOTORCYCLE   MYTH USES   THE   VIOLENCE,   THE   DECADENCE   AND   THE   RITUALISM IN   TRACING   THE   PATH   OF   BOYS   AND   THEIR   TOYS   TO   MEN   AND   THEIR   MACHINES-­ THE   SORT   OF   THING   THAT   FILM   ART   CATALOGUES   REFER   TO   AS   “ C O U N T E R C U L T U R E   OF   ICONOGRAPHY”


Biker boys featured massively in another channel of gay male iconography, homoerotic physique magazines. Their models, described by Juan Suarez as â&#x20AC;&#x153;human debrisâ&#x20AC;? of Hollywood Ă&#x2026;VLQVO_WZSQVšTM[[OTIUWZW][UIZSM\[Âş_MZM][MLI[IVW]\let for artistic expression of desire and also as a means of mufĂ&#x2020;MLXWZVWOZIXPa1V\PMKI[MWN 2IUM[*QLOWWL[XPW\WOZIXPa these publications, according to British painter David Hockney; used models who were street boys, prostitutes and criminals. Gay iconography has referenced aggression and dominance in early works of American poet Walt Whitman(1819-1892) whose writings illustrated an intrigue with labourers, soldiers, KWUZILM[[IQTWZ[IVLĂ&#x2026;MTL_WZSMZ[2]IV;]IZMbKWUUMV\ML š*W\P?PQ\UIVIVLLM+PIZT][[\W]OPJWa[IZMXIZ\WN I\ZIdition in gay culture that has received less pictorial representation than its Hellenic counterpart, since its lacked the artistic alibi of Greek classicism and was invested in eroticizing commonplace working-class motifs and milieus.â&#x20AC;? (Suarez. 155) Bike Boys.

?M KIV KTMIZTa [MM UIVa 9]MMZ Ă&#x2026;TUUISMZ[ PI^M QV\MZ\_QVML motorcycle culture with their own ideals. In Pink Narcissus, a scene where a man dressed in leather mounts a motorbike and accelerates towards Bobby Kendall, dressed as a matador []OOM[\Q^MTaT]ZM[PQU\W_IZL[IZMLĂ&#x2020;IOM[\IJTQ[PM[WJ^QW][ TQJQLQVITI[[WKQI\QWV[_Q\P\_W[\ZWVOUITMĂ&#x2026;O]ZM[QVK]T\]ZM <PMUIRWZQ\aWN 3MVVM\P)VOMZ[;KWZXQW:Q[QVOKWV[Q[\[WN  scenes depicting biker boys but where does this fascination come from? It has been argued that its importance echoes an QZWVQK KWUUMV\IZa WV [WKQM\a[ XMZ[XMK\Q^M WN  \ZILQ\QWVIT OIa male imagery induced by the Sad Young Men of the generation. ) [QOVQĂ&#x2026;KIV\ ^Q[]IT [aUJWT ILWX\ML Ja \PM bMQ\OMQ[\ WN  \PM 50s and 60s alongside the sailor, the soldier, the hustler and the matador, is the biker aesthetic. These identities have been reiterated by artists throughout the 21st century such as Pierre et Gilles, Tom of Finland and Gilbert and George. This presentation of bravado primarily surfaced as a backlash of youth culture in response to post-war sensibilities. In a time _PMV)UMZQKI_I[JMOQVVQVO\WĂ&#x2026;VITTaZMKWV[\Z]K\Q\[W_V[MV[M of society, deviation and rebellion was inevitable. It was this sense of â&#x20AC;&#x153;limboâ&#x20AC;?; society feeling as though they were trapped in a state of uncertainty that indicates once more to purgatory.


Bruce Benderson reveals that Bidgood would often send IVI[[Q[\IV\W]\QV\W\PM-I[\^QTTIOMI\\PM\QUMWN Ă&#x2026;TUing Pink Narcissus and offer â&#x20AC;&#x153;vagrants and hippiesâ&#x20AC;?. It is this essence of demoralised hopeless romanticism which so relentlessly resounds within gay iconography; provQVO:QKPIZL,aMZ[;ILAW]VO5MV\PMWZa[WIKK]ZI\M It could be argued that this exaggerated delineation of machismo is simply a form of protest to the oppressive, emasculating image thrust upon gay men in litMZI\]ZMIVLĂ&#x2026;TUIZW]VL\PM[IUM\QUM1\Q[I_IaWN  asserting dominance over heterosexual men. Much like the image of a woman burning her bra in protest during the sexual revolution, the biker boy alludes to something far deeper than mere carnal indulgence. The biker JWa [QOVQĂ&#x2026;M[ MUXW_MZUMV\ WN  OIa UI[K]TQVQ\a \PM ZMjection of its genteel brother, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the sad young manâ&#x20AC;? and casts aside any victimized state of suffering. Whereas the sad young man was abandoned, forced to keep his identity a dirty little secret; biker culture established a uniformity and community which renounced alienation. The contrast between the purgatory that sad young men IZMKWVĂ&#x2026;VML\WIVL\PMšWXMVZWILÂş_PQKPJQSMZJWa[IZM free to explore acts as a metaphor for gay liberation. It is essentially another method of escapism and moreover it lead to gay men reclaiming the status of â&#x20AC;&#x153;real menâ&#x20AC;? once more. These precise encoded intimations expressed by the UIKPWIK\WZ[WN \PM[IVL[KWV^MaQVO^QZQTQ\a\PI\ IOIaXZM;\WVM_ITTI]LQMVKMNW]VL\WJM[WQLMV\QĂ&#x2026;IJTM


T H E I D O L I S A T I O N OF   THE   QUEER M A R T Y R


“GAY BROTHERS   AND   SISTERS...YOU   MUST   COME   OUT.   COME   OUT   TO   YOUR   PARENTS...COME   OUT   TO   YOUR   FRIENDS...IF   INDEED   THEY   ARE   YOUR   FRIENDS.   COME   OUT   TO   YOUR   NEIGHBOURS.   COME   OUT   TO   THE   PEOPLE   YOU   KNOW   AND   WHO   KNOW   YOU.   BUT   FOR   ONCE   AND   FOR   ALL,  

BREAK DOWN   THE   MYTHS,   DESTROY   THE   LIES   AND   DISTORTIONS.” -Harvey Milk


A

prominent aspect of gay culture has always been â&#x20AC;&#x153;Queer Martyrdomâ&#x20AC;?. A closely connected offshoot of the Sad Young Man, Queer Martyrdom was a consequence of the oppression forced upon the community. Anyone who suffers or lays down their life in the name of their sexuality has been given a saintly status. Much more than a role model or even excessively admired stereotypical icons, the martyr represents the severity of an issue; bringing a much deeper matter of fatality to the surface. One of the best recognised visual representations of The Queer Martyr is Saint Sebastian, depicted countless times in christian imagery as a naked man tied to a tree bearQVOIZZW_QVĂ&#x2020;QK\ML_W]VL[\PMOIaKWUU]VQ\aPI[ZMXM\Q\Q^MTaILWX\MLPQUI[IVQKWV.ZWU,MZMS2IZUIV[ !NMI\]ZMTMVO\PĂ&#x2026;TU;MJI[\QIVM\W8QMZZMM\/QTTM[ tragic portrait of him we can, again, notice the alignment between religion and sexual oppression in the visual arts. In 1998 the world was shocked at the brutal abduction and murder of 21 year old Matthew Shephard, who was tortured and found tied to a fence. The heavily publicised homophobic community of The Westboro Baptist church expressed their disgust at his â&#x20AC;&#x153;gay martyr sta\][Âş1V!!\PMZIXMIVL[\IJJQVOWN *ZIVLWV<MMVI a young transgender boy gave the transgender community a platform to speak from about their own issues. 0W_M^MZWVMWN \PMUW[\VW\IJTMĂ&#x2026;O]ZM[QV\PMX]JTQKMaM# ITMILMZQV\PM4QJMZI\QWV.ZWV\PQOPTaKMTMJZI\MLXWTQ\Qcal pin-up boy, human catalyst for the emergence of a gay community on the San Francisco scene around the Stone_ITTZQW\[\W\PQ[LIa[\IVL[W]\I[IZO]IJTa\PMLMĂ&#x2026;VQ\Q^M OIaUIZ\aZQV\PM4QJMZI\QWVUW^MUMV\"0IZ^Ma5QTS


His vision of a â&#x20AC;&#x153;gay utopiaâ&#x20AC;?, mirroring that of the heterosexual American dream; without fear of losing your job, or the respect of your peers based on your sexuality was a radical prospect, no one had dreamt possible before. Although a robust presence of a gay community lay somewhat muted IVLKWVĂ&#x2026;VML\WIV]VLMZOZW]VL[KMVMWN IZ\PW][MĂ&#x2026;TU[[MMLa OIaJIZ[IVL[\QĂ&#x2020;MLX]TXĂ&#x2026;K\QWVVW^MT[\PMZMPILVM^MZJMMV IR][\QĂ&#x2026;MLXWTQ\QKIT^WQKMNWZ\PQ[\aZIVVQbMLUQVWZQ\a#[\I\ing that they had a right to, not only equal social treatment from those around them, but in addition a right to live their lives outside of the closet. In 1985 Robert Epstein released his documentary The Times of Harvey Milk, followed by  /][>IV;IV\Ă&#x2026;TU5QTS<PM[M\_WXZWUQVMV\XQMKM[ WN  KQVMUI W]\TQVM \PM [QOVQĂ&#x2026;KIVKM WN  5QTS QV I XWTQ\QKIT social context and his contribution to freedom and identity which the gay community have now come to attain. He ZMĂ&#x2020;MK\ML I KWVĂ&#x2020;QK\ WN  )UMZQKIV ^IT]M[ KPITTMVOQVO \PM WTL fashioned morals of opposing candidate Dan White. In a political climate where White strived to enforce traditional values upon an increasingly progressive nation which had just experienced a major civil rights revolution and was beginning to accommodate different minorities, Milk encouraged gay UMVIVL_WUMV\WKWUMW]\IVL]VQNa-KPWQVO\PMbMQ\OMQ[\ of the Stonewall riots he was quoted in his public speeches, â&#x20AC;&#x153;

â&#x20AC;&#x153;BURST  DOWN   THOSE   CLOSET   DOORS ONCE   AND   FOR   ALL, AND   STAND   UP   AND   START   TO   FIGHTâ&#x20AC;?


?PQ\MIVL5QTS[QLMIT^Q[QWV[NWZ\PMQZKW]V\ZaZIVWVIXIZallel; each one a different interpretation of the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Great American Dreamâ&#x20AC;?. Although White appealed to the Nuclear Family of )UMZQKI5QTSZMXZM[MV\ML\PMKWVĂ&#x2026;VMLUQ[]VLMZ[\WWLXMZKMV\age of people who previously did not have a voice or a right to live their lives the way they wanted. In the aftermath of Stonewall, Milk presented to the Sad Young Man an alternative resolution for their compromised reality, no longer were they MXQ\WUQbMLJa\ZIOQKX]TXĂ&#x2026;K\QWVJWWSKW^MZ[WZW\PMZUMTIVKPWTic allusions. This was an open door to join society as an equal.


T

hroughout my research of gay iconography before and after the Stonewall riots I have found that gay consciousness has been QVÆ]MVKMLPMI^QTaJa\PMZMXZM[MV\I\QWVWN PWUW[M`]ITQ\aQVKQVMUIÅK\QWVIVLIZ\8W[Q\Q^MOIaZWTMUWLMT[IT\PW]OPXTMV\QN]T now in the 21st century, were seldom. This lead to an issue of categorisation which is still evident in today’s society. The way in which these characters were represented and their relation to Purgatory leads me to question their position in modern culture. 0I[\PMUWLMZVOIaVW^MTIVLÅTU¼[XZWOMVQ\WZOW^MZVMLI[M\WN  [\Z]K\]ZM[IVLKWLM[_PQKPLMÅVM\PMY]MMZKWUU]VQ\aQV\PM[\ century? Have we become habituated to a built-in consciousness of alienation, isolation accompanied by emotional and moral demise? Although we can appreciate the jovial entertainment value of modern rom-coms, teen dramas and Bildungsroman comingW]\ÅTU[_PQKPZMXZM[MV\OIaUMVI[XZW\IOWVQ[\[_QTT_MM^MZ be rid of the notion of estrangement from the rest of society?

.QTU[[]KPI[)UMZQKIVKWUQVOWN IOMÅTU-LOMWN ;M^MV\MMV (1998), British drama Get Real (1998) and artistic French ÅTU13QTTML5a5W\PMZ!XZM[MV\\W][INIUQTQIZ[M\WN  narrative codes where the Sad Young Man is still an established ÅO]ZMQVKQVMUI1VKZMI[QVOTa[W[QVKM\PM!![UIVaWN \PM[M OIaKPIZIK\MZ[[]KKMMLQVW^MZXW_MZQVO[WKQITLQNÅK]T\QM[IVL prevail to enjoy their long deserved (although often compromised) “happy ending”. The question stands not to be: “Is society prepared to integrate homosexuality?” but “Is the gay community ready to dispel their concreted identity as Sad Young Men?”. I have found that this rejection has been instilled in us, there will always be a part of the modern gay man who will remain in Purgatory.


The Sad Young Man in Purgatory  

Dissertation