The Topic of Queerness in Moonlight

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Queerness has been a widespread subject in modern-day society. It has been shown in an unfavorable light through traditional movie theaters, but more modern media is starting to change and bring positivity to the taboo of queerness. In the article, “Why Moonlight Is a Small Wonder of a Movie,” the writers acknowledge today’s reality: “Our reality is queer. So are films. We’ve just made a social art of acting otherwise.” A pivot in the cultural conversation is essential in making the LGBTQ community more visible in the public eye.

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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 movies that “reminds [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).

That moment when Chiron and Kevin are sitting by the water reveals a type of vulnerability that captivates the audience and draws them into every passing moment. The intense eye contact between the two leads the audience to feel the emotion through the screen. This instance of vulnerability moves the audience and leaves them in awe as Chiron has his first sexual experience. What is interesting about this sexual scene is that it does not glorify sex itself but reveals the calm and normal nature of it. Unlike most sex or sexual scenes, this movie does not have background music.

This absence of background sound just adds to the intimacy on display. This same idea of intimacy is also demonstrated 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 type of power that is released into the atmosphere that pulls the audience into a state of anticipation. The silence shared between the two speaks volumes to the audience. It exemplifies the shared experiences and emotions that are felt between the two men. This pushes the audience to fully acknowledge the queerness of the film in its purest form–silence.

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

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The Topic of Queerness in Moonlight. (2022, Dec 16). Retrieved from