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Digital Subscriptions > GCN > 332 > lesbian rep

lesbian rep

Directed by a queer woman, with an all- female crew, the ilm Below Her Mouth has been lauded and panned for its graphic female sex scenes, but is it a step forward for lesbian representation, or just more of the same? Róisín McVeigh charts the evolution of the modern lesbian on screen, and inds it’s still a straight, white man’s game ater all.
Natalie Krill and Erika Linder in Below Her Mouth, 2017

For most of Hollywood’s lifetime lesbian characters have been invisible or concealed in mainstream cinema, and even written out of stories for reasons that were once lawful (the Hays Code), and later commercial. While lesbian characters and stories are becoming increasingly more prevalent, their representations remain largely unsatisfying. Since the ’80s, the same-sex genre has made strides to shake off Hollywood taboos and clichés. In Desert Hearts (1985), the comedic/melodramatic and glamorous portrayal of a love affair between two women was considered revelatory.

It was the first time a lesbian couple had been portrayed in a positive light. But I’m a Cheerleader’s (1999) satirical telling of a closeted high school cheerleader who gets sent to straight camp triumphed in its unapologetic queerness and mockery of homophobia. Elsewhere with the casting of stars such as Angelina Jolie in Gia (1998) and Meryl Streep in The Hours (2002), lesbian stories slowly crept into mainstream cinema. These films paved the way for the new age of lesbian cinema making headlines and garnering award nominations this side of the millennium. New films of this genre are put on a pedestal, often considered groundbreaking and dubbed as ‘art-house’, despite still falling prey to the many tropes of the mainstream film industry. Like Blue is the Warmest Colour, Carol and Pariah before it, Below Her Mouth is the latest love story between two women to be both hyped and put under the microscope.

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About GCN

In this issue of GCN Róisín McVeigh explores the changing representation of lesbians on the big screen against the background of GAZE's screening of the controversial Below Her Mouth; Toryn Glavin argues that The Crying Game has a ring of trans truth; Editor Brian Finnegan explore Ireland's LGBT+ community's paradoxical relationship with An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar; Tributes are paid to two beloved LGBT activists, Ann Loiuse Gilligan and Dave Roach, by those who loved them most; Legendary queer photographer Nan Goldin and feminist filmmaker Vivienne Dick sit down with Mary Nally to discuss queerness, mythomaniacs and much else. And of course, there's much more to explore...
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