Aesthetics of queer becoming: Comrade Yue and Chinese community-based documentaries online

Jia TAN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


While many studies explore how digital technology influenced the production and consumption of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) media in the Euro-American context, few have focused on LGBT media in China despite its significant growth. Intersecting LGBT media studies with studies on Chinese communication technologies, this paper looks at videos made in community-based documentary workshops, including the Queer University (kuer daxue) Digital Filmmaking Training Camp. Many of the videos are articulations and reinventions of multiple selves enacted through the construction of image and sound. Against the backdrop of neoliberalized governance of selfhood, this new wave of community-based queer documentaries, exemplified by Comrade Yue (2013), embodies the “aesthetics of queer becoming.” Specifically, the expressive personal histories in these videos contest the “authentic” homosexual subjects that function as objects of knowledge in mainstream media. The bodily corporality on screen and the intimacy of the video apparatus operate as an interrogation of identity that intervenes in the ongoing discursive debate between the biological determinist and socially constructed views on homosexuality. Furthermore, video-making itself becomes an act of coming out through confessional or performative modes of sound–image relationships. Video is a vital medium to work through and within the process of identification and community formation. The medium of the video, with its capacity for dissemination online, functions as a unique format that gives rise to a new set of queer aesthetics and politics through first-person audio-visual constructions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-52
Number of pages15
JournalCritical Studies in Media Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication

User-Defined Keywords

  • documentary
  • neoliberalism
  • Queer; Chinese
  • selfhood


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