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Between the Sheets, In the Streets

Queer, Lesbian, Gay Documentary

1997

Chris Holmlund and Cynthia Fuchs, editors

Between the Sheets, In the Streets

The first book to focus on the connections between sexuality, activism, and documentary film.

From film festivals to university campuses, from private homes to first-run theaters, people everywhere are viewing and discussing gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, and transgender films and videos. Between the Sheets, In the Streets considers these videos and films, testifying to the unavoidable connections between sexuality (the sheets) and activism (the streets) for all who identify as gay, lesbian, or queer in the 1990s.

Contributors: Chris Cagle, Linda Dittmar, Lynda Goldstein, Ronald Gregg, Janet Jakobsen, Lynda McAfee, Kathleen McHugh, Beverly Seckinger, Marc Siegel, Chris Straayer, Erika Suderburg, Thomas Waugh, and Justin Wyatt.

In this anthology accepted facts, presumed truths, and prevailing values—inside the gay and lesbian movement as well as beyond—undergo tough reexamination. The authors demonstrate convincingly that gay and lesbian forms of critical analysis as well as film production reinvigorate our understanding of documentary, identity, responsibility, and activism. The essays take pains to locate an impressive array of documentary works in relation to their historical context and contemporary import. Perhaps not surprisingly, the ‘founding fathers’ of the documentary tradition are seldom seen or heard in a book that questions the centrality of the already visible and easily spoken. These are essays that break down monolithic assumptions and challenge normalizing strategies of gay and lesbian identities and their documentary representation. They engage the mind and elevate the level of debate.

Bill Nichols, University of California at San Francisco

From film festivals to university campuses, from private homes to first-run theaters, people everywhere are viewing and discussing gay, lesbian, queer, bisexual, and transgender films and videos. Between the Sheets, In the Streets considers these videos and films, testifying to the unavoidable connections between sexuality (the sheets) and activism (the streets) for all who identify as gay, lesbian, or queer in the 1990s.

This first collection of essays to focus exclusively on queer, lesbian, and gay documentary argues that documentary films and videos speak with a sense of political and social urgency, acting as testaments to the importance of reclaiming history and asserting the importance of these points of view. Among the topics discussed are representations of young queers on such shows as MTV’s The Real World; pre-Stonewall films; portrayals of lesbians and aging; video activism in Oregon and the South; and the works of Derek Jarman, Su Friedrich, Cheryl Dunye, and Sadie Benning. A range of films and videos is examined, including Strangers in Good Company, Paris Is Burning, Juggling Gender, Silverlake Life, and Without You I’m Nothing.

Tracing an exhilarating range of perspectives and subject positions, Between the Sheets, In the Streets is an essential guide to current developments in queer, lesbian, and gay documentary.

Contributors: Chris Cagle, Brown U; Linda Dittmar, U of Massachusetts, Boston; Lynda Goldstein, Pennsylvania State U, Wilkes-Barre Campus; Ronald Gregg, Drake U; Janet Jakobsen, U of Arizona; Lynda McAfee, New York Public Library; Kathleen McHugh, U of California, Riverside; Beverly Seckinger, U of Arizona; Marc Siegel, UCLA; Chris Straayer, Tisch School of the Arts; Erika Suderburg, U of California, Riverside; Thomas Waugh, Concordia U, Montreal; Justin Wyatt, U of North Texas.

Between the Sheets, In the Streets

Chris Holmlund is associate professor in the Department of Romance and Asian Languages at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Cynthia Fuchs is associate professor of English/film and media studies at George Mason University.

Between the Sheets, In the Streets

If you’re interested in queer film, Between the Sheets, In the Streets will introduce you to the best and brightest, and explain what they’re up to. Between the Sheets, In the Streets will make you look more critically at all documentaries, and will whet your appetite for those queer documentaries that do come your way.

Lambda Book Report

In this anthology accepted facts, presumed truths, and prevailing values—inside the gay and lesbian movement as well as beyond—undergo tough reexamination. The authors demonstrate convincingly that gay and lesbian forms of critical analysis as well as film production reinvigorate our understanding of documentary, identity, responsibility, and activism. The essays take pains to locate an impressive array of documentary works in relation to their historical context and contemporary import. Perhaps not surprisingly, the ‘founding fathers’ of the documentary tradition are seldom seen or heard in a book that questions the centrality of the already visible and easily spoken. These are essays that break down monolithic assumptions and challenge normalizing strategies of gay and lesbian identities and their documentary representation. They engage the mind and elevate the level of debate.

Bill Nichols, University of California at San Francisco

With this anthology, Fuchs and Holmlund perform two key missions: they bring a much-needed specificity to discussions of gay and lesbian film/video culture and at the same time bring a long-overdue queer perspective to bear on contemporary documentary. An eminently useful collection.

B. Ruby Rich

This major collection of essays compiled by Holmlund and Fuchs is the first to focus on the connection between the sexuality of queer cinema and the social activism of documentary film. These essays add a new dimension to two potentially rich fields of study. Excellent.

Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A & M University Library, Texas

This excellent supplement to the literature of queer film studies belongs in academic libraries alongside Vito Russo’s seminal Celluloid Closet.

Library Journal