Straight Skin, Gay Masks and Pretending to be Gay on Screen  book cover
1st Edition

Straight Skin, Gay Masks and Pretending to be Gay on Screen

ISBN 9780367247744
Published May 28, 2020 by Routledge
204 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Straight  Skin,  Gay  Masks  and  Pretending  to  Be  Gay  on  Screen  examines cinematic depictions  of  pretending-to-be-gay,  assessing  performances  that not only reflect heteronormative and explicitly homophobic attitudes, but also  offer  depictions  of  gay  selfhood with  more  nuanced  multidirectional identifications.

The case of straight protagonists pretending to be gay on screen is the ideal context in which to study unanticipated progressivity and dissidence in regard to  cultural  construction  of  human sexualities  in  the  face  of  theatricalized epistemological collapse. Teasing apart the dynamics of depictions of both sexual  stability  and  fluidity  in  cinematic  images  of  men  pretending  to  be gay offers new insights into such salient issues as sexual vulnerability and dynamics  and  long-term  queer  visibility  in  a  politically  complicated  mass culture  which  is  mostly  produced  in  a  heteronormative  and  even  hostile cultural environment. Additionally, this book initially examines queer uses of sexuality masquerade in Alternate Gay World Cinema that allegorically features a world pretending to be gay, in which straights are harassed and persecuted, in order to expose the tragic consequences of sexual intolerance. Films  and  TV  series  examined  as  part  of  the  analysis  include  The  Gay Deceivers, Victor/Victoria, Happy Texas, William Friedkin’s Cruising and many other straight and gay screens.

This  is  a  fascinating  and  important  study  relevant  to  students  and researchers in Film Studies, Media Studies, Gender Studies, Queer Studies, Sexuality Studies, Communication Studies and Cultural Studies.

Table of Contents

List of Figures



Fabricated Screens: Sexual Authenticity, Flamboyant Masquerade,

and the Queer Epistemology of Pretending-to-be-gay Films.

Acting Gay, Mediating Stereotypes

Faking Faggotry, Negotiating Perversities

Strange Bedfellows and Their Melodramatic Straightness

Flamboyant Deceivers in a Performative Thirdspace

Chapter 1

Staging Effeminacy: Screening the Perilous Pleasures of Pretending to be a Sissy

Popularity Breeds Contempt: Extravagant Homosexuality and Its Perilous Effeminate Pleasures

The Gay Deceivers Enjoying a Slice of Festive Life

Victorious Diva and Defeated Old Queen

Perilous Heterosexual Pleasures and the Politics of Homeovestism in Homo Land

Metrosexual Straightness, Theatricalized Heteronormativity, and Straight Eye for the Queer Guys

Masculinist Straightness, Theatricalized Homophobia and Campy Guilty Pleasures

The Power of Fantasy: Football, Balls and Mirror Balls in a Pinky Macho Land

Saving Straight Loves: Phallic Anxieties, Promiscuous Gay Deceivers and Authentic Closets

Straight Drama Queens, Flamboyant Machismo and Gay Infatuation in a Deceptive Fashion

The Fabricator's Heart Belongs to Fabric in a Queer Fashion

Towards Effeminate Authenticity

Chapter 2

Take It Like a Man: Cruising Machismo in Leatherland

Cruising the Controversy

A Voyeuristic Disguise and a Voracious Gaze of Cannibalistic Culture Industry

Undisguised Demonization of Gay Sadomasochistic Pleasures

Disguising Sexual Authenticities and Subversions

The Gay Dungeon as Stimulating Cabinet of Curiosities

Reclaiming Authentic Disguise in Interior. Leather Bar

Chapter 3

Pretending to Be Allies? Straight Women, Their Pretending-to-Be-Gay Admirers and Sexual Authentication

Fag-hagging (and Hugging) Sedgwick's Angst

The Sexual Pleasures of the Fag Hag and Her Gay Partner

From Fag Hag to Fag Fuck: Unmasking Authentic Desires

The Queer Hypersexualization of the Pomosexual Latina

Lessons in Effeminacy, Faggotry and Fag-Haggery

The Real Man and His (Un)masked Heteronormative Desire

The Joy of Gayness and the Fear of Homosexuality

Pretending-to-Be-Gay Inside and Outside the Patriarchal Order

Gay Performativity and Mimetic Desire

Working Like a Proustian Homosexual in the Fields of Heteroflexibility, Intercorporality, and Inter-pretense

The Fag Hag as Director and Moderator of Sexual Authentication

Chapter 4

Odd Couples, Queer Partnerships and Gay Marriages in Pretending-to-Be-Gay Films

Teaching Faggotry, Learning to Flame

Two Erics, One Faggotry

Dropping the Soap in a World of Disguise and Disgust

Grotesque Masquerade and Ludicrous Authenticities

Flamboyant Gayness and Grotesque Homophobia

Dis/played Intimacy between Real Men and Their Absent Gay Kiss

Straightforwardness for the Straight Eye

Chapter 5

Screening Compulsory Homosexuality: The Perilous Pleasures of Parodying Heteronormativity and Fantasizing a Topsy-Turvy


Voracious Carnivals and Cannibalistic Masquerades

Realistic Gay Bashing and Surrealistic Salvations

Pretending-to-be-gay as Perilous Parody

Straights Don't Cry and Heterosexualities Are Never Queer?

Delusive Happiness and New Martyrdom in a Perfect Gay World

Unmasking the Particularities and Subtleties of Queer Martyrdom .

Hopelessly Devoted "Heteros" and Their Gay Tormentors

The Guilty Pleasures of Screening Dichotomized Alternate Gay Worlds


When Gay Masks Gaze at the Deceiver's Straight Skin:

The Grotesque Screening of Deceptive Horrors and Delights

Deforming Mirrors and Sincere Anxieties

The Terrorizing Mask and Its New Erotic Pleasures




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Dr. Gilad Padva is a film, popular culture, men’s studies and queer theory scholar. He is the author of Queer Nostalgia in Cinema and Pop Culture (2014) and co-editor of Sensational Pleasures in Cinema, Literature and Visual Culture: The Phallic Eye (2014), Intimate Relationships in Cinema, Literature and Visual Culture (2017) and Leisure and Cultural Change in Israeli Society (2020). He also publishes extensively in international academic journals, international collections and international encyclopedias. He currently teaches men’s studies and popular culture at the Program for Women and Gender Studies with the NCJW at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.