Twenty years after New Queer Cinema’s arrival, the terrain for
making has radically changed. To an extent, this volume’s table of contents
maps that history. In the United States by the turn of the millennium, the
earlier queer movement had given way to new social landscapes and a new
generation of queers. Once again, historical context and political environ-
ment played a role. The
retroviral cocktail was discovered in 1996; its
accessibility (at least in the United States, where its costs could be sustained)
relieved the panic and fatalities of the 1980s and early 1990s. As the death sen-
tences of the past transmuted into longer- term chronic illness with a more be-
nign prognosis for many
communities, longevity allowed for a focus on
matters other than survival. The urgency that had fueled the
was gone.
So was Reagan, replaced by eight years of a Clinton White House (1992 98)
that lessened rhetorics of damnation to such an extent that even eight years
of George W. Bush couldn’t roll back the tide. With President Obama in the
White House, even more beach- heads of acceptance could be established.
The marketplace was more crowded now, a legacy of the earlier genera-
tion’s push for acceptance, though the goal certainly wasn’t marketplace ac-
ceptability at the time; in capitalism, even queers (with money) get options.
Activism gave way to lifestyle, as the old defiance faded into homonormativ-
ity.1 “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re married” is a very different war cry from
the 1980s street chant “. . . get used to it.” What had transpired? Was this
now a postqueer era, as some have suggested? Or had that phase too already
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