- Queer Media Manifestos
A Statement of Outrage Against American Assimilationists. Who Practice Appeasement of Hetero Terror in the Wake of A.I.D.S. Genocide in the United States
I disclaim gay cinema! I renounce those who have eroded the humanity of gay and lesbian liberation and replaced it with lavender media consumerism. The New Festival, Frameline, and all lesbian and gay film festivals which now foster assimilation into the death culture: all of you gay volunteers for America: keep your hands off my films! I am withdrawing all of my work in this country. My screening at Millennium next month will be my last. You can have your Queer Hollywood! You can keep your apolitical assimilationism! Enjoy your corporate sponsorships! Watch your boring, stupid, irrelevant, gutless, artless “gay and lesbian movies!”
I have made films since 1970, when I first met Jonas Mekas and he inspired in me the belief that a moving image art was possible. Though I realize that not all of my films have been the most revolutionary in vision or scope, I HAVE tried for 31 years to create a body of work which is based upon integrity, placing the emphasis on the value of the human individual, which in this case, happens to be a gay male. Somehow, over the years, as my generation of queer men died off from AIDS, a different value system has sprung up, and the practitioners of what I would describe as a “gay media culture industry” have become ensconced in management.
This gay media culture industry derives its values from the worst of American culture. It is built upon a consumerist ethic, tossing aside works of art after one screening, always seeking the new, the novel, and the irrelevant, divorcing itself from the genuine community which can only exist through an honest historical perspective; [End Page 559] it is ageist, anti-intellectual, fame-obsessed, careerist, and money-hungry.
I’m not saying that artists must starve or live in obscurity, but in the face of a mainstream culture which dehumanizes and destroys the only sacred thing: the human being, some measure of social and cultural responsibility is required. This is especially so for people who through whatever this sexual difference is about, have borne some of the hatred and bias of this culture. As this country rises up to defend its “way of life,” I must withdraw my work from involvement with the “gay/lesbian culture” which seeks only to become part of the death-machine in exchange for the satisfaction of “belonging,” and having Laura and George Bush say that “gay is ok.”
Enjoy your gay movie celebrations. America gives you itself reflected in your own image: good little queers, feeding the culture which would exterminate you.
Queers love manifestos. We love writing and reading them. From Sergei Eisenstein to Valerie Solanas to Chris Crocker, queers have crafted manifestos on topics ranging from postrevolution Soviet cinema to feminist utopias and dystopias to mentally unstable pop stars. The manifesto is a fitting mode of expression for those who have been historically marginalized. After all, what other literary form is so adaptable to ranting and raving, drama and vendettas, militaristic metaphors, and the occasional flirting with totalitarianism? Queer experimental filmmaker Jerry Tartaglia posted the manifesto above, under the subject heading “Queer Disclaimer” on the Frameworks Mailing List on October 29, 2001, “immediately after the 9/11 attacks when members of gay organizations were expressing their ‘solidarity’ with President Bush and his policy decisions.”1 While this disclaimer is very much a product of its time, its passionate stance and many of the issues it brings up—the commercialization of queer life and culture, the dangers of co-optation, assimilation, and tokenism—are echoed and reinforced in the collection of manifestos collected in this issue’s Moving Image Review. Unlike Tartaglia’s, many of the other manifestos written by queers do not directly address [End Page 560] queer subjects. They either subsume queerness within a call for larger, systemic changes (Eisenstein, Solanas), or fixate on images and icons from dominant culture (Crocker). Yet one could argue that the authorship of these manifestos implicitly “queers...