There's no doubt that this fall will bring heated debates about gay rights, as Mainers vote on giving same-sex couples the right to marry. But Christopher Stiegler, an adjunct art history professor at Southern Maine Community College, is interested in starting a different kind of conversation.
Starting in September, Stiegler will curate SPACE Gallery's Normative Narratives film series, showcasing "representations of gay men that aren't stereotypes" and opening up what he hopes will be a casual dialogue about art, politics, and filmmaking.
The series will feature four movies:
• September 12: The Green (2011), about a gay couple who moves to a small Connecticut town and encounters suspicion and homophobia.
• October 10: The Living End (1992), the tale of two HIV-positive gay lovers on the lam.
• November 14: Keep the Lights On (2012), which tells the story of a decade-long relationship that's both passionate and dysfunctional.
• December 12: Parting Glances (1986), considered a pioneering film of gay cinema as it was one of the first to grapple with AIDS — and featuring Steve Buscemi in his first big-screen role!
Stiegler, who moved to Portland from Brooklyn two years ago, was always an indie-film lover. He recalls that "a lot of the representations that I saw in movies when I was younger helped me ground myself and my adult gay male identity."
In part, he wishes to honor the sense of identification through this film series. But he also wants to look beyond common caricatures — what he describes as "the limp-wristed hairdresser who wears cutoff jean shorts" — to "find films that aren't solely interested in the fact that the characters are gay." These four selections achieve that goal, with nuanced characterizations and storylines that develop around sexuality as well as other issues and conflicts.
In a press release, Stiegler wrote that he hopes "to initiate an alternative queer community, one that exists through camaraderie and conversation rather than inside of bars or at pride parades." To that end, he is reaching out not just to LGBT organizations, but also to Portland's active filmmaking community and guest panelists who will be available to answer questions about the films. Paul Marcarelli, a writer and co-producer of The Green (and Verizon's "Can You Hear Me Now?" guy), will be on hand for a Q&A following the September 12 screening.
Normative Narratives series | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St, Portland | Doors at 7 pm; films at 7:30 pm | $5-7 | 207.828.5600 | space538.org