Publication Date

Spring 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Theatre Arts


Alison L. McKee


Queer Cinema, Queer Theory, Sexual Identity, Theory of Performativity

Subject Areas

GLBT Studies; Cinema; Gender Studies


This thesis offers a critical examination of essentialist and constructionist theories of queer identities, with emphasis on portrayals of internalized homophobia in film. The thesis examines three films released at the latter part of the first New Queer Cinema movement (1991 - 2000) - American Beauty (1999), Urbania (2000) and Velvet Goldmine (1998). Using criticisms of Queer as performativity, as theorized by Judith Butler, in addition to the works of Gregory M. Herek, Harry M. Benshoff, Jeffrey Weeks, and other theorists and academics, the thesis analyzes the use of characterization, mise-en-scene, and spatial and temporal relationships in these films as consideration for social, cultural, and psychological influences on the development of internalized homophobia in queer identities. The thesis also examines how these identities under discussion may have sustained or bolstered commonly held perceptions, or stereotypes, attributed to the behaviors and mannerisms of homosexual men during the time period.