January 21, 2020 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Jonathan Demme’s Queer Cinema

Yesterday, we lost one of great American filmmakers of the past 30 years in Jonathan Demme, who died in his Manhattan home at the age of 73. He had been fighting cancer for some time.

There are many reasons to remember and celebrate Demme’s life, not least of all his contribution to cinema spanning from his ’70s screwball inspired comedies to the classic ’90s thriller Silence of the Lambs, to the intimate and moving Rachel Getting Married in 2008. But Demme’s interest in telling complex, human stories meant something more to the queer community. When Demme took on 1993’s Philadelphia, one of the first mainstream Hollywood films to address HIV/AIDS, homophobia, and discrimination in the workplace, he did it in way a that made straight audience sit up and take notice.

Now, of course you can argue that they should have been taking notice from the start. But sometimes it takes a true storyteller to show people just what they need to be paying attention to, and why they need to care about things that they might feel don’t pose an immediate threat to them. With Philadelphia, Demme brought a story of the modern plague home to Americans all across the country. In some of his other films like Silence of the Lambs and Something Wild, he introduced elements of queer relationships that enriched the films themselves, and the way we understood the world of those films.

Losing Demme means losing one of our greatest American storytellers, and someone whose open-heartedness and curiosity led him to tell the stories we needed to hear. He will be sorely missed.

Related Posts

Honoring Timothy Dean One Year Later

January 8, 2020

January 8, 2020

An intimate gathering was held Tuesday, Jan. 7 at West Hollywood Park to honor the 1-year anniversary of 55-year-old fashion...

Cases Linked to Deaths in Ed Buck’s Apartment Still Hot, LASD Announces

March 5, 2019

March 5, 2019

The deaths of Timothy Dean and Gemmel Moore incite calls for justice within community.  By Jorge Paniagua When one of...

Memorial Night for WeHo Bartender Charles Kinsley

February 26, 2019

February 26, 2019

As the West Hollywood night scene mourns the loss of long-time bartender Charles Kinsley, the Mother Lode will be holding...

Long Beach LGBTQ Center’s Trans Day of Remembrance

November 15, 2018

November 15, 2018

Joining with over 100 cities around the world, The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach will be hosting an International Transgender...

Mourning Transgender Lives Lost so Far This Year

November 15, 2018

November 15, 2018

The transgender community is still one of the most targeted minorities in the United States. Not only are gender-nonconforming individuals...

When Nino Fortson Died, So Did His Name

June 5, 2018

June 5, 2018

Another trans life lost, and misinterpreted in death.

Remembering Stephen Hawking, LGBTQ+ Ally

March 26, 2018

March 26, 2018 14

The late Stephen Hawking was a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights.

The Trans Lives We Lost in 2017

January 7, 2018

January 7, 2018 68

Lost, never forgotten.

Drag Innovator Flawless Sabrina Bows Out of This Life

December 14, 2017

December 14, 2017 68

Adieu to the godmother of drag

J.D. Disalvatore, Artist and Activist, Gave Queer Filmmakers a Voice

September 12, 2017

September 12, 2017 781

The LGBT+ advocate, producer, and animal rights activist lost her life to cancer last week. She was 51.

Sheila Michaels Gave Women a Better Option

July 25, 2017

July 25, 2017 134

Sheila Michaels wanted an honorific for women who “didn’t belong to men.”

Diane Torr Saw the Power of Drag Before Anyone Else Did

July 24, 2017

July 24, 2017 191

The gender warrior and artist gave us a new way of seeing

Matt Redman Memorial Feb. 19 in WeHo

February 13, 2017

February 13, 2017 167

Matt Redman, one of the founders of AIDS Project Los Angeles, died lastDecember 27. He was 67. As The Pride...

Gay author, historian Stuart Timmons dead at 60

January 28, 2017

January 28, 2017 574

BY KAREN OCAMB  |  Author, historian, gay activist Stuart Timmons died Saturday morning at the Serrano North Convalescent Hospital in...

Debbie Reynolds, early Hollywood AIDS activist

December 29, 2016

December 29, 2016 597

BY KAREN OCAMB  |  The LGBT community—reeling from the deaths of icons George Michael and Carrie Fisher and AIDS Project...