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Chrüterei Stein Gruppe

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Charles Green
Charles Green

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In a 1995 article published in GLQ, anthropologist Kath Weston explores the role of urban spaces in the construction of a "sexual imaginary" through which queer subjects find comfort, community, and a sense of self in the context of a move from a rural, small-town, or suburban environment to a large urban centre. Weston notes that the narrative of gay migration to the city functions as "the odyssey of escape from the isolation of the countryside and the surveillance of small town life to the freedom and anonymity of the urban landscape," and as she suggests, the valorization of urban environments in opposition to rural and small-town settings is "embedded in the gay subject" (274). The claustrophobia of small towns and suburbs seems to be a typical, if not stereotypical, feature of narratives written for and about gay teenagers. Each of the four books reviewed here is set in a small town or an outlying suburb of a major city. In these four narratives, urban centres are seen as almost mythic spaces and as privileged sites of sexual and self-exploration, whereas small towns and suburbs are represented as restrictive sites of surveillance, bullying, and heteronormativity. Although the narrative of urban migration is a compelling one in queer culture and functions as an overwhelmingly dominant trope in queer literature, as Judith Halberstam reminds us, the conflation of urban spaces with acceptance and community and the depiction of rural and small-town spaces as sites of homophobic violence should be scrutinized for its reliance on fairly simplistic class-based assumptions and for its refusal to account for the existence of rural queers who elect to "stay home in order to preserve their difference" (27). Indeed, the books under review here all replicate, to some degree, a dualism between the gay urban metropolis and the homophobic rural/small-town/ suburban setting that becomes a backdrop against which their narratives of self-discovery are constructed. While none of these texts narrates a gay urban migration (all of the protagonists are teenagers still living at home with their parents), a migration to the city is on the horizon for most of these protagonists by the end of each novel. Perhaps predictably, characters who hail from cities tend to function as catalysts for the protagonists' growth and facilitate their personal and sexual development.

And then there's Patricia Ortega's MAMACRUZ, a charming Spanish-language film about Cruz (Kiti Mánver), an older woman who has a late-in-life sexual awakening after discovering porn on the internet. The premise definitely leaves room for cheekiness (a scene where Cruz watches a couple have sex with chocolate is immediately followed up with the image of a churro being dipped in chocolate sauce), but the protagonist's journey is treated seriously and with warmth. Cruz makes friends with other women in a sex therapy group, and tries to spice up the intimacy with her distant, barely affectionate husband. She struggles to reconcile her desires with her devoutly religious beliefs. And she attempts to reconnect with her daughter, who is herself trying to realize a dream later in life, of becoming a professional dancer. If you enjoyed last year's Sundance hit Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (like I did), you'll definitely find pleasure in MAMACRUZ. (International rights to the movie were snagged by Spanish distributor Filmax.) 041b061a72


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