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New Queer Images

Representations of Homosexualities in Contemporary Francophone Visual Cultures

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Edited By Florian Grandena and Cristina Johnston

Since the early 1980s, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of international gay/lesbian-themed visual productions, ranging from pornographic images and television programmes to advertising and graphic novels. Often originating from countries with a multicultural tradition (most notably Great Britain and the United States), this cultural phenomenon has now reached many territories, including the French-speaking world.
What are the thematic and aesthetic convergences/divergences of such visual productions? Do such works develop problematics and approaches specific to areas such as metropolitan France or French-speaking Canada? The eleven essays included in this collection (two in English and nine in French) aim to answer these questions by offering in-depth and challenging discussions of various queer-themed visual productions made in a contemporary Francophone context. Each contribution focuses on specific case studies drawn from auteur, pornographic and experimental cinemas, as well as those based on analyses of images from television, printed media and contemporary art.

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Florian Grandena and Cristina Johnston - Introduction -1

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Introduction In early 2010, French photographer/journalist Philippe Castetbon pub- lished Les Condamnés : dans mon pays, ma sexualité est un crime/The Con- demned Ones: In My Country, My Sexuality Is a Crime, a photography book that is both a ref lection of, and testimony on, the role of images in the expression and (re)negotiation of one’s sexual orientation and desires within a homophobic and dangerous environment. The work was originally inspired by the author’s virtual, online acquaintances with gay men from repressive (read: anti-gay) nations. Interested in the ways these individuals attempted to strike a balance between anonymity and seductiveness in their picture profile, Castetbon gathers fifty-one testimonies written by anony- mous male homosexuals from countries where homosexuality is still pun- ishable by law, including Guyana, Jamaica, Singapore and Uzbekistan. Each entry in Castetbon’s book strictly follows the same layout and contains the same visual elements: the f lag and the name of the individual’s country of origin; the testimonial text (moving tales of fear and hatred, but also of hope); the translation of the book’s subtitle into each man’s native tongue; the legal texts describing the specific punishments in each man’s country of origin (these range from fines and jail sentences to institutional- ised torture – whipping in Yemen, for instance – and even death sentences, as is the case in Afghanistan, Iran and Nigeria); and finally, a photograph of each subject accompanied by a short caption (limited to the individual’s first initial, his age and his place of residence)...

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