In 1993, Alexander Doty described horror cinema as a potently queer experience for all viewers, arguing that “the central conventions of horror...actually encourage queer positioning” and, consequently, that“everyone’s pleasure in [horror] is ‘perverse,’ is queer, as much of it takes place within the space of the contra-heterosexual and the contra-straight.”1In the time since Doty’s assessment, the queerness of horror has grown in myriad ways, most notably through advancements made by queer filmmakers as new leaders of the genre who have imbued it with their lived queer experiences and uniquely queer fears.
Queer for Fear is a programming block of horror shorts and experimental encounters with feelings of dread. It has been sequenced to emphasize aspects of queerness both implicit and explicit, metaphorical and tangibly sociopolitical. The block begins with narrative shorts that address queer fears –discovery (outing), loneliness, parental rejection and abuse. As the block progresses, shifts occur. From narrative to experimental cinema, from horror conventions (Leatherface-y killers, rotting corpses, “Oh, no! The babysitter’s dead!”) to the very real fears of everyday life in the contemporary U.S. (nuclear proliferation, mass shooters, racist violence). Its sequence emphasizes a journey to the root of fear by recognizing that beneath horror’s popular tropes lies an important political perspective which acknowledges the abusive systems of power that marginalize queer people. Our final film, They Will Know Your By Your Fruit, ends the experience in a space purely imagined, deeply abstracted, and reflective on the history of violence toward queer black women. This is a challenging program filled with upsetting material. However, for those who wish to encounter queer portraits of fear, we feel this program speaks to the breadth and complexity of these representations.
—Peter Marra, Festival Judge