Ameliorative homecomings: framing the queer migrant in A sinner in Mecca (2015) and Who’s gonna love me now? (2016)

Cakirlar, C. ORCID: 0000-0003-1171-8635, 2020. Ameliorative homecomings: framing the queer migrant in A sinner in Mecca (2015) and Who’s gonna love me now? (2016). The Garage Journal: Studies in Art, Museums and Culture (1). ISSN 2633-4534 (Forthcoming)

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This study critically analyses the themes of queer migrancy and homecoming in two recent documentaries, A Sinner in Mecca (2015) and Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? (2016). Parvez Sharma’s A Sinner in Mecca documents the filmmaker’s journey from the USA to Saudi Arabia for his hajj pilgrimage. Using an essayistic first-person documentary register, Sharma constructs tension around his attachments to nation, religion and sexuality. While the film offers a critique of religion as a punitive state apparatus, Sharma’s pronounced ownership of a migrant gay Muslim identity functions in progressive counter-valence. Yet the prioritized themes within A Sinner in Mecca are informed by a humanitarian framework of identity politics, and a dramatization of precarity and transgression. Although Sharma’s queer diasporic accent addresses a global audience, the promotion of identity risks overlooking complex modes of intersectionality and obscuring the differences in intimate belonging that various queer Muslim communities attach to Islam around the world. Heymann and Heymann’s portrait documentary Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? tells the story of Saar, a gay man who got expelled from his religious kibbutz in Israel and moved to London. Treating Saar’s HIV diagnosis as the marker of an affective crisis, the film oscillates between two distinct spaces of domesticity: Saar’s family in Israel, and his network of friends in London Gay Men’s Choir. Exploring the difficulties Saar experiences as a result of his family’s prejudices against his sexual orientation and HIV status, the film attempts to document the ways in which he negotiates his attachments to friends and family. What redeems the queer diasporic subject in this film is Saar’s return to his homeland and family in Israel. In both films, the conflict between religion, national belonging and sexual identity is resolved through a normative pull towards domesticity that re-articulates a particular form of homonormativity and its affective structuring of same-sex intimacy in the context of queer migrancy. This study investigates these normative tendencies by focusing on humanitarianism, spectatorial address, and intersectionality in transnational LGBTQ documentary.

Item Type: Journal article
Description: Issue title: Transitory parerga: access and inclusion in contemporary art
Publication Title: The Garage Journal: Studies in Art, Museums and Culture
Creators: Cakirlar, C.
Publisher: Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
Date: 28 October 2020
Number: 1
ISSN: 2633-4534
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 16 Jun 2020 19:23
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2020 16:22
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