Student Research Projects

Out of the Closet: Viewing Deviancy through another Perspective by Examining Films in the 1950s and 1960s

Student Benjamin Freiler '14
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department History
Course HIST 460: Senior Thesis Seminar


Previously, scholars, such as Vito Russo, argued that the majority of gay images from films of the 1950s and 1960s characterized same-sex relations negatively. By contrast, this project examines positive gay tropes in films from the mid-twentieth century. Applying post-structuralist and gender analyses, this project contends that for several decades the Movie Production Code limited the expression of gay relations. In response, directors and screenwriters passed the Code by finding ways to depict gay themes subtly. Specifically, they depicted gay themes through the use of hidden subtexts that fall into certain tropes, including the sinner, the anti-hero, and the advocate.