Homo-Sexile: Gay and Transgender Communities - Sexual and National Identities in Latin American Fiction and Film




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This dissertation is an examination of the fictional portrayals of Cuban and Argentine gay and transgender communities that often experience resistance from authoritarian dictatorships and machismo attitudes towards sexual and national identity. It focuses on three novels: Manuel Puig’s El beso de la mujer araña (1976), Reinaldo Arenas’s Antes que anochezca (1991), and Mayra Santos Febres’s Sirena Selena, Vestida de pena (2000). It also focuses on two film adaptations: Hector Babeno’s adaptation of Puig’s novel Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) and Julian Schnabel’s film adaptation of Arenas’s novel Before Night Falls (2000). Lastly, it includes five documentaries: Nestor Almendros and Orlando Jimenez Leal’s Mauvaise Conduite (1984), Andres di Tella’s Prohibido (1997), Jenny Livingston’s Paris Is Burning (1990), and Wolfgang Busch’s How Do I Look (2006). I have chosen these works because of their historical significance vis-a-vis machismo and its relationship to Argentina’s La Guerra Sucia [The Dirty War] from 1976 to 1983, and the Cuban Revolution in 1959. The accounts of the Cuban revolution, and Juan Perón and General Rafael Videla’s Argentine dictatorship are pivotal historical markers of the fictional novels, their feature film adaptations, and the documentary films. The gay and transgender protagonists in these works strive to become part of imagined communities that bring them together through sharing patriotic and political values, thus enabling these characters to strive towards national and sexual identities. The models of communities that represent a space that allows for possibilities of these dual identities are prison as community, drag as community, and the dynamics of Latin American exile communities in the United States.



Latin American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism, Literature and history -- Latin America, Motion pictures -- Latin America -- History, Women's studies, Gay and lesbian studies, Latin America -- History



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