Chapter ten: marginal identity and 'indie' film production
The highly politicised response to the crisis of the gay AIDS epidemic of the 1990s placed queer activism powerfully on the cultural agenda in the USA. The New Black Cinema of the 1980s had proved a renewed commercial viability for 'marginal' film production. The assimilation of lesbianism to a universalising construct of 'sexuality' and the edgy glamour of queer iconography opened up access to popular forms and commercial funding for lesbian filmmakers for the first time.
Pre-Stonewall gay cinema was experimental and angst-ridden. Post-Stonewall gay cinema had been characterised by positive images and institutional narratives. Queer male indie cinema was, on the contrary, risk-taking, confrontational and deconstructive. Lesbian feminist cinema had been experimental and confrontational whilst queer lesbian indie played it safe with light, romantic, classically narrative comedies. In mainstream cinema, meanwhile, male queers became cuddly positive images whilst lesbians succumbed to lurid homicidal mania. Why these wildly conflicting inversions?