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What Is Queer? a Short Analysis on 'paris Is Burning'

Autor:   •  June 27, 2017  •  Creative Writing  •  1,317 Words (6 Pages)  •  953 Views

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What is Queer? A short Analysis on 'Paris Is Burning'


What is Queer?

( In this essay, when I do not know the therms people refer to themselves, I will use ‘They’ instead of He/She)

My first ever encounter with the term was in a Garbage song called Queer, for my understanding at the time - and I was 12 - Queer meant weird, exotic, outsider. My first render of a Queer person was related to oppression and bullying, even androgyny. And that was the way I rendered myself around that age. As years go by, I tended to relate Queer only inside the Gay community, up to the point that I joined groups of friends who tried to deconstruct every denomination they encounter. That was when Queer started meaning - for me - everything that is not heteronormative, though I have to admit that there are nuances of heteronormativity in the queer community that do not deny the fact that they are queer.

The movie I chose to watch and analyze is ‘Paris is Burning’, by Jennie Livingston. The Documentary talks mainly about the Black and Latino queer community and their Ballrooms from 1984-1989, in New York City. Jennie depicts in a very deep way how this marginalized subculture comments on our society, their expectations and dreams, also including more specific contemporary issues in our society like Identity and how it’s constructed, inter-sectionalism, the nuances of gender and gender performativity, the concept of ‘family’ and how it can be formed, social injustice and how they survive, the influence of capitalistic and normative desires and fantasies that these community aim as form os being themselves reaching the last levels of ‘success’ in life.

The documentary opens with the contrast of a white supremacist church panel in Harlem, to the inside view of a Ballroom competition with the initial narrative of Pepper Labeija. The movie depicts 4 different important environments for Queer people in NYC: The Ballrooms, the Piers, the personal Room and the Fashion Stores. It is important to mention that even with the high rates of oppression to minorities inside NYC, the city is still taken as a token for freedom of expression.

The Ball it’s a fun competition, about drag and performance. it’s a form of creating entertainment to themselves as they drag, embodying different genders and portraying the normative figures that would be generally accepted by society, as to fantasize their acceptance as they praise the privileges of the capitalistic white heteronormative citizens that were always denied to the oppressed minorities, such as African American and Hispanic gay men, drag queens and transgender women (mentioning the ones in the movie) .

The Piers, like the Ballrooms, can be a home for those who do not have one. It’s a place for encounter for queer people, specially near Christopher Street (where most of the gay night life is), even with the constant harassment of the NYPD and the violence of transphobic and homophobic people.

The personal Room, or the Bedroom - for those who have the privilege of having one - is where you see the most part of intimacy, if you get the chance to be inside one, where you see the characters and identities being built and molded, like in the backstage of a ballroom, is where you hear their hopes and dreams being exposed, where you see their references and models in a wall. In this movie we have the example of Octavia Saint Laurent, a black transgender woman, who dreams to be a “rich somebody” and beholds great admiration for white supermodels.

The Fashion Stores is where they pour their fantasies and desires inside the normative society. They want to look fabulous and aim to have the money to buy designer clothes as a way to be inserted in the american dream lifestyle. They either achieve


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