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Queer economics and the Castro

Getting to travel with your film around the world and meet different audiences is a huge privilege. It could easily become a full-time job, and in a world without money, that job would be mine. But I can’t go to all the screenings since I, like so many of us, can’t afford not to earn, even when the drinks are free.

Still I manage to go to some of them but there is one screening I am particularly sad I can’t attend – the Frameline screening at the legendary Castro cinema on 26th June in San Francisco.

Founded in 1977, Frameline is the longest-running and largest LGBT film event in the world, with an annual attendance of 60,000-80,000 people. And I would have liked to be a part, not only for my own personal enjoyment but also because I would like to discuss economy within this context – queer economy, as I would have called it.

FUTURE MY LOVE is rarely branded as a gay film, and I have been surprised that there have been so few questions about the fact that two women embody the love story. Some conservative people have left the cinema and I have received some hateful emails, but that’s about it. I very much hope this is because other lesbians have made such headway in queer storytelling that I am able to use lesbian characters to explore universal themes (rather than the whole drama being about the fact that they are lesbians), something I think would have been impossible ten years ago.

There still is vast under-representation of lesbian, gay and transgender stories in mainstream culture, and LGBT film festivals and activists still have an incredibly important role to play in demanding everyone’s equal rights.

No one should be discriminated against because of their gender or sexuality, so for me, gay marriage is an obvious right – even if it is the right to turn it down.

Not everyone wants to be a part of the norm but most of us would like to make that choice ourselves

The history of non-normative relationships within the gay community gives us not only inspiration how we can practise loving relationships differently whoever we are, but they can also give us new perspectives on society and our collective relationships.

Where else can we find such a goldmine of lived, experienced – rather than imagined – theory of relationships not defined by ownership or family and not defined by genetics or community, or even based on national borders?

When we forget that the most important people in history where not motivated by money, we can look at this community and be inspired by people like Castro's own Harvey Milk.

The norm never looks like the norm when you live it, it just is – blindly. In filmmaking we often speak about ‘the conflict’ as the driving force for the drama. Even in a documentary we think we need conflict for people to engage with the story. But I don’t think we need conflict to see, what we need is contrast.

And this is why I feel privileged and grateful for being gay. I am lucky to be a filmmaker and a lesbian. I don’t make my films for a particular audience with a particular sexual orientation, nor do I create them with some special lesbian magic; I make films about human issues and since the way I have experienced life falls outside the norm, I have a slightly different perspective to tell them from. It gives me a little bit of the contrast that makes what is right in front of us visible. 

To me, Jacque Fresco did just that. Gave me a perspective on economy, future and society that enabled me to see and question my own. By learning about his alternative future I learnt more about what was right in front of me all along but I had taken for granted, left alone as truths or ‘just the way they are’. Outsiders can give you inside information. By changing the angle we can portray a different dimension. 

Once you are jerked outside the norm it’s much easier to re-envision other aspects in life as well. It does not have to be your sexuality that cracks open this awareness, I have met people with the same view of the world resulting from breaking other stigmas or being cracked by other events. Others, broken, outsiders, queer – these become valuable experiences, something to understand the world from more than one angle and to easier re-imagine a new one from.

From queer cinema to queer economics

Queer cinema is a part of this process. It is for me not just about queer topics or the sexuality of the maker, but also about applying different perspectives, exploring different story structures, sound-scapes and experimenting to find new norm-breaking cinematic expressions.  

Perhaps FUTURE MY LOVE is more queer in its structure and topic than in the gender of the protagonist? Perhaps because being gay is such a non-issue in the future projected by The Venus Project that it becomes a non-issue also in the film? Jacque describes his own sexuality as ‘contaminated by his society’, that the way he had been raised unfortunately ‘damaged his ability to find men sexually attractive’ and that in the future people would probably be more likely to be bisexual. In Jacque's projection, gender and sexuality will not be such a big deal in the future and people will ‘love everyone they meet that are lovable’.

So calling a resource-based economy queer economics feels right in many ways, and it’s a compliment to both.

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