Intimacy as Transparency Pleasure and Solidarity in Parisian AIDS Narratives

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Robbie Spratt


In this essay, I use the term “intimacy” to refer to a sentiment of emotional proximity between two or more people. For queer theorist Lauren Berlant, intimacy principally “involves an aspiration for a narrative about something shared, a story about both oneself and others that will turn out a particular way” (281). At its core, an intimate practice is one that allows individuals to share themselves, to know each other more closely, and to work towards a narrative together. In the French society of the 1990s, the dominant heteronormative narrative deemed marriage and sex the most intimate acts largely for their procreative potential, as they produced the ideal emotional proximity and contained this proximity to the perfect nuclear family. In turn, as Berlant notes, queers are forced to find alternative methods of being intimate, whether it be their own non-procreative sex or emotionally invested practices that disavow sex completely. Although sex is heavily present within the work explored in this essay, it becomes clear that queer intimacy does not simply turn straight sex on its head by virtue of having gay participants, but rather that queer intimacy can hold a more subversive role by hinging on sexual objectification and producing emotional proximity on a larger, communal level.

Author Biography

Robbie Spratt

Robbie Spratt is a senior at Haverford College, studying French literature and cultural anthropology. Their research interests include queer theory, urban space, and community formation.

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