Documenting Gay Men

Identity and Performance in Reality Television and Documentary Film


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About the Book

This book charts an evolution in gay identity within American reality television and documentary film. Through focusing on the performative potential of gay men, it examines the emergence of the independent gay citizen as a bold new voice rejecting subjugation within the media. Through examining productions as diverse as An American Family, Tongues United, Silverlake Life, The Real World, Paternal Instinct, Trembling Before G-D, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and many others, this book explores how gay people as teens, devoted couples, parents, inspiring individuals and influential producers have contributed to the progression of gay identity in domestic arenas. These portrayals are played out while discussing AIDS, race, religion, the development of same-sex family forms, the issues of procreation and gay marriage and the changing views of gay men as both creative producers and responsible social agents. In these forms of entertainment, gay social actors as political agents challenge dominant ideas, and invent new social worlds.

About the Author(s)

Christopher Pullen is a Senior Lecturer in Media, Gender and Performance at Bournemouth Media School, Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom. His articles and essays on gay identity have appeared in several publications.

Bibliographic Details

Christopher Pullen
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 273
Bibliographic Info: 25 photos, appendices, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2007
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2807-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2169-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1
Introduction      5

1. Constructing Identity, the Politics of Representation, and the American Son      25
2. Performance and Documentary: Power, Carnival, Confession and Opposition      53
3. Autobiography and Confessional Performance in Documentary: Politics, AIDS and Family      85
4. Documenting Youth Identity and The Real World: Testaments, Role Models and Romantic Narratives      116
5. Nonheterosexual Family Forms: Affirmation, Race and Religion      139
6. Gay Performers and Discursive Performativity: Alliances, Community and Competition      164
7. Reproduction and Commodity: Family, Marriage and Service      187

Conclusion: The Move to the Domestic      214
Filmography      225
Appendix 1. White House Press Release      235
Appendix 2. A Typology of Modes of Individual Adaptation by Robert K. Merton      236
Chapter Notes      237
Bibliography      245
Index      257

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “compelling…persuasive and informative…clear…breadth of material…makes this book especially enjoyable and engaging…an enjoyable read…suitable for courses examining issues of sexuality, gay men, and the media”—Journal of Popular Culture
  • “a reminder of how amazingly far we have come since the early 1970s. This isn’t a history of oppression or alienation but of their opposite: the power of visibility”—The Advocate
  • “deserves a space on your shelf”—Scarlett
  • “attempts to move away from stereotypes, as well as to balance media studies of gay (men) and Lesbian(women) subjects, which have been strongly tilted toward the latter…explor[es] developments in both media over the past three decades…examination…helps to demonstrate the growing social change in perception concerning personal identity, again especially in family terms”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly.