Black Gay and Bisexual Men, Internet Access, Memory, and Visual Culture
Jiles, Robert De Von
Bruce, La Marr J
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Drawing from the fields of visual culture, black queer studies, black feminist theory, internet studies, and affect theory, “Black Gay and Bisexual Men, Internet Access, Memory, and Visual Culture” focuses on black gay and bisexual men who have internet access to create, view, and circulate visual representations about their own experiences and how they challenge, subvert, and reify negative and one-dimensional representations about their lived experiences. The cultural objects analyzed in the dissertation include two episodes from playwright and screenwriter Donja R. Love’s independent scripted web series Modern Day Black Gay and Darius Clark Monroe’s short film Slow. Both cultural objects were released for online viewing and can be accessed for free. As Black queer visual culture, Slow and MDBG trouble a racial and heteronormative visual field that renders black gay and bisexual men as excess. Tapping into affects such as desire, intimacy, love and pleasure, Love and Monroe use memory in the cultural objects to create visual images from the excess. In turn, the cultural objects stimulate black gay and bisexual viewers’ memories, and activate affective encounters occur Slow and MDBG use visual images to interrogate and reinscribe notions about black sexuality, black masculinity, black family and community, black love, same-sex romance, and black religion. This dissertation investigates the relationship between artists, the art objects, and the viewers and look for meaning in their creation, representation and interpretations of gay online hookup culture, gender and sexual stereotypes, and conservative homophobic Christian beliefs and practices. In addition to a textual analysis of the cultural objects, methods in the dissertation include interviews, self-ethnography, several small group screenings of the cultural objects by black gay and bisexual male participants, and group discussions following the screenings about the participants' interpretations of the material and how their experiences relate to the cultural texts.