‘Picture it: London in the 1980s: a hopeful and yet naive young man arrives in the city’: Situating the queer self within the nostalgic media frame
Authors: Pullen, C.
Conference: Queer Representation: Pasts, Presents, Futures
Dates: 11-14 May 2021Abstract:
Russel T Davies’ TV Series It’s a Sin (Channel 4, 2021, UK) and Stephen Beresford’s film Pride (Matthew Warchus, 2014, UK) both depict gay men and their allies coming of age, engaging with an emboldening queer rights movement and the spectre of HIV/AIDS in 1980’s London. At that time, I too briefly lived in London, arriving in the bustling city, as a young queer man hoping to find love, establish my identity, join the community and become politicised. As an autoethnographical subject, I am drawn to It’s a Sin and Pride, as these dramas seem to produce characters that represent the community that I had encountered, or at least offer an idealistic vision of what I had hoped for. Exploring theoretical work on emotion and the queer body (Ahmed 2004 and 2006), I frame the nostalgic autoethnographical potential of queer nostalgia (Padva 2013), within TV and film. While It’s a Sin and Pride, potentially encourage queer audiences (and their allies) to remember the dream like psychological past, they also advocate a need confront issues in the current day, such as the rise of populism and increasing homophobia. Contemporary queer nostalgia then is not simply a moment of remembering and reimagining, but a call for action to advocate change, framing the significance of life chances and the struggle for social justice.