Queerama: Re-imagining Queer Pasts and Futures

Asquith, Daisy. 2022. Queerama: Re-imagining Queer Pasts and Futures. In: Joanna Zylinska, ed. The Future of Media. London: Goldsmiths Press, pp. 177-194. ISBN 9781913380144 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Uncovering the roots of queer desire and queer community has been a largely frustrating and deceptive experience for LGBTQI+ researchers in both theory and practice, who find precious little evidence, beyond the legal and medical, of our existence in the past. Cinema and television representations of non heterosexual and non binary-gendered experiences in sex and love before the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967 were overwhelmingly characterised by death, mental illness, sin, and imprisonment. A handful of brave filmmakers persisted in giving voice to their queer desires, almost always in a coded, fictional, undercover signal only meant to be received by those ‘in the know’; see Dyer (1990), Medhurst (2006), Doty (1993). But queer lives have always been lived, whether visible or not, and their lack of past representation is a political problem that requires resolution in order to avoid slippage in the human rights that have been hard won since Stonewall. The temporal turn in recent queer theory rejects the idea of linear progress and simplistic notions of queer lived experience. Queer theorists such as Dinshaw (2007), Munoz (2009), Ahmed (2010a), Freeman (2010), Halberstam (2011), Berlant (2011) and Monaghan (2016) have done important work on the rejection of heteronormative life narratives to make space for a resistant story about queer love, queer success, queer happiness that will fill the gaps in history for future readers. Linear heteronormative temporality, full of “rites of passage” such as marriage and procreation “makes queers think that both the past and future do not belong to them” (Muñoz 2009, 112). Our story told as one of victimhood, illness, violence, and secrecy does not make for a solid foundation on which to build our psychological futures. The erasure of our love, sexual desire, creativity, vulnerability, care and courage leaves a damaging void. As Dinshaw writes, there is understandably “a queer desire for history” (2007, 178). As a documentary practitioner I see my contribution to this labour as providing a nuanced queer history on screen, that embraces our “strange temporalities, imaginative life schedules, and eccentric economic practices” (Halberstam 2005, 1) in place of the othered, legislated, and diagnosed. If our story can be corrected and complicated, perhaps a new queer generation can stop “growing sideways” (Bond Stockton 2009) and “explode the categories of sameness, otherness, present, past, loss, pleasure” (Dinshaw 1999:2) to be replaced by a new queer optimism for the future.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Goldsmiths Press


22 March 2022Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 May 2022 10:10

Last Modified:

17 Jan 2023 15:36



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