Post-Marriage Equality and Post Gay? Contemporary Queer Irish Cinema
(at time of presentation)
Páraic is a PhD student in the Department of Media Studies at Maynooth University, where he is an IRC Scholar and John Hume Scholar. His research project is currently titled Queering in the Years: Gay Visibility in Irish Media, 1974-2014. He has a published in the area of Queer Media Studies, including a book chapter in LGBTQs, Media and Culture in Europe from Routledge and he has an article forthcoming in Media History, titled ‘OUT-ing AIDS: The Irish Gay Civil Rights Movement’s Response to the AIDS Crisis’. Páraic has spoken extensively about gay representations and politics in the Irish media, most predominantly in The Irish Examiner. He has also been a contributor on Newstalk and RTÉ Radio One.
Barton, Ruth. 2004. Irish National Cinema, London: Routledge.
In an essay on Irish cinema, Ruth Barton (2004) argues that one of the definitions crucial to understanding a national cinema in Ireland, is ‘its dialogue with the national culture’. She later notes that ‘the inherent drawback to the embrace of a collective culture is its rejection of “deviant” identities. Among such identities noted by Barton is that of queer subjects, which for the most part, have been largely absent from Irish cinema, with the exception of a handful of texts. However, with the successful ‘yes’ vote in the Same-Sex Marriage Equality referendum in 2015, there was an expansion in Irish nationhood to include gay and lesbian individuals as part of the national family. Notably since then, there has also been a queer turn within Irish cinema. 2016 saw the release of Darren Thornton’s A Date for Mad Mary and in 2017, John Butler released his second film Handsome Devil. Both these text are centred around queer characters and narratives.
This paper will argue that Irish cinema is beginning to map the cultural effects of the Marriage Equality referendum and the wider progressions in LGBT liberation politics that took place in 2015. In doing so, I will argue that some of the cultural currents evident from that campaign are articulated in a similar way in these new queer Irish films. These themes include the universalising of queer identities for a mainstream audience and the formal omission of queer intimacy from the texts. Furthermore, given the politics of respectability and assimilation conveyed through the narrative and cinema form, this paper will question whether this queer turn in Irish cinema can be classified as ‘post-gay’ and interrogate whether these mainstream films attempt to eliminate difference between the queer and straight identifying characters.