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The Limits of Desire: On the Downlow and Queer Chicago film


The small-budget independent film On the Downlow, directed by Tadeo Garcia and released in 2004, represents the star-crossed romance between two male Latino members of a Chicago street gang. I argue that the film provides a critique of the city's racialized organization of space, as well as a critique of the paradoxical hypermasculine homosociality of the street gang itself. The film's protagonist must decide whether he will remain loyal to his gang or loyal to his lover—but he is incapable of embracing a queer identity. Since the film dramatizes a failed and tragic love affair, I suggest that it provides an important counternarrative to the mainstream gay movement's celebration of well-adjusted, happy homosexuals.

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