Queerness in “Moonlight”

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Queerness has been a prevalent topic in modern society. It has been shown in a negative light through classic cinema, but more modern media is beginning to shift and bring positivity to the taboo of queerness. In the article, “Why Moonlight Is a Small Miracle of a Movie,” the authors acknowledge the truth of today. “Our reality is queer. So are movies. We’ve just made a social art of pretending otherwise.” A pivot in the cultural conversation is essential in making the LGBTQ community more visible in the public eye. In more recent times, queer, more specifically, gay culture has been defined by the high amount of sex positivity. In Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016), he encapsulates the vulnerability of a young, black, queer male, leaving the audience in awe of the beauty of the film. It is one of those films that “remind [the audience] to stay tethered to those corners of queer experience… that [the audience] has trained [themselves] not to see,” by subtly incorporating the experiences of Chiron as he grows up (The Future of Queer Cinema).

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That moment when Chiron and Kevin are sitting by the water, they display a sort of vulnerability that captivates the audience and draws them into every passing moment. The intense eye contact between the two lead the audience to feel the emotion through the screen. This case of vulnerability causes the audience to move in and watch in awe as Chiron has his first sexual experience. What is interesting about this sexual scene is that is does not glorify sex itself but shows the calm and normal nature of it. Unlike other sex, or sexual scenes, this film lacked background music. This lack of background noise only contributes to the intimacy on screen. This same idea of intimacy is also displayed in a later scene when Chiron and Kevin are adults and talking to each other for the first time in a decade. When Chiron tells Kevin that he is the only person who has ever touched him in a sexual way, there is a kind of energy that is put into the atmosphere that pulls in the audience into a state of anticipation. The silence shared between the two speaks words as loud to a bomb to the audience. It demonstrates the shared experiences and emotions that are felt between the two men. This pushes the audience to fully acknowledge the queerness of the film it the purest of form—silence.

In terms of class discussion, there are a few points that could be asked that contribute to a reflection on the film. What did [the class] think about the overall film? How did the subtleness of queerness contribute to the overall structure of the plot? And what does the class think about the end scene with Chiron and Kevin sitting by the water in each other’s arms?

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Queerness in "Moonlight". (2022, Dec 14). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from

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