Gay Identity, Documentary Performance and the Move to the Domestic: Couples, Families and New Community

Authors: Pullen, C.

Conference: Popular Culture Association & American Culture Association Conference

Dates: 4-7 April 2007


Early documentaries which focused on gay people examined expository debates such as the isolation and rejection of homosexual life. However in the 1970s groundbreaking documentary makers, such as Peter Adair with Word is Out (1977, US), changed the focus which would reveal the emergence of the ‘independent gay citizen’ (Pullen, 2006) (attempting to represent themselves). This paper contextualises this emergence, and examines a progression in gay identity. This reveals gay citizens in contemporary documentary involving themselves in performance within domestic environments, connected to the idea of the ‘chosen family’. Evidence of this will be discussed examining the documentaries; Daddy and Papa (John Symons, 2002, US) and Paternal Instinct (Murray Nossel, 2002, US), and the reality television series; The Amazing Race (Bruckhiemer Films for CBS, 2001-present) and Wife Swap: Partner Edition (RDF for ABC, 2005). This transgresses dominant sexual archetypes which have confined the homosexual as connected to sensualisation, isolation and rejection. It extends the potential of gay identity, revealing a move towards ‘the domestic’ (Pullen, 2006).

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Christopher Pullen