13 April 2013
Throughout the years, it is common to see groups stick together and unite around a common goal or idea. Strength in numbers is the basis behind it. This is similar to the idea of identity politics. Identity politics is a way of organizing together and staying intimately connected to the idea that some social groups are oppressed. There is a general consensus about things our society labels as Taboo. The sort of topics looked down upon range from prostitution to age of consent. Most will agree that taboo issues are not morally correct or let say “Politically Correct.” But there are some things that are taboo which need a little more thought before being put into that category. Gender bending has continuously been made into a horrible thing not to be mentioned unless it is the center of a joke. The three films assigned for the essay present the real life story of gay people who come together in one desperate act of self-fulfillment. Therefore, specific behavior exhibited by this group show how their ethnicity (values, shared experiences, language) relates to their sexual identity and social class. The "silence" referred to throughout the three films is that gays (male or female), who are unable to express themselves because of the prejudices of the heterosexual society.
First of all, trough out my essay I will discuss the main idea of the three films that were projected in class. Then, I will discuss meticulously the main point of all three movies. To begin with, the three documentaries dealt with the instantaneously critique of the politics of racism, homophobia and segregation as they are tangled with contemporary sexual politics. All of them collectively explained gay identity and their communities. Each had a different situation, ‘Paris is Burning’ was drag queens, ‘Harvey Milk’ was a gay politician, and ‘Tongues Untied’ was African American and gay. All of these documentaries showed communities within their own and forming some family where they built their home to live comfortably.
“Paris Is Burning” which depicts the ball culture of the late 1980s in New York City. A seminal exploration of the Ball competitions this film portrays the transgendered community many of whom are also members of ethnic minorities. “Paris Is Burning” provides a powerful portrait of a marginalized social group whose elaborate drag competitions specialized presentational traditions and heightened vocabulary allowed participants to become close-knit members of a distinct subculture. The film highlights their efforts to redefine their individual identity, sexuality and social class. For instance, many of the drag queens featured in this film have been abandoned by their families because they are homosexuals. To resolve this, this subgroup has formed its own families, or “houses,” as they are referenced to in the movie. Each house has a mother and a father. While these are not literal houses, it is a small community that offers support to its members. Family members assist each other with ball competitions, stealing, and encouraging each other when times are tough. This subculture is very similar to mainstream culture. Both groups of people have a longing to be accepted. Both groups put a huge emphasis on how stylish a person is. The big difference is that the drag queen subculture is daring to be different to be who they want to be and fit in with whom they want to fit in.
“Tongues Untied” is a profound movie for its expressive manner, which covers the identity of various black men’s lives, many of them being gay. Yet, through their stories and experiences one gains a sympathetic perspective on how entrapping such a life can be, almost like that of a dead end. A promising example of such an analogy can be seen by one man’s story in the film. This man was a young school boy in the south on the verge of discovering himself sexually. Though countless students and peers were critical of...