Douglas McGrath’s 2006 film Infamous recounts Truman Capote’s research travels to Kansas in the late 1950s. In opposition to the “effemiphobic” rhetoric of many contemporary gay cultures, Infamous highlights Capote’s effeminacy and relationships with women as creatively and personally productive, offering nostalgic alternatives to both the gay cultural attachment to masculinity and the powerful historical narratives about the inherent abjection of queerness at midcentury. However, even as Infamous exposes, celebrates, and aestheticizes Capote’s effeminacy and the male homosexuality that it evidences, it simultaneously renders race invisible. The figure of Truman Capote thus becomes a kind of historical shorthand for the nexus of whiteness, male homosexuality, and effeminacy. In other words, the depiction of Capote’s midcentury gay effeminacy in Infamous functions to destabilize, in a nostalgic key, the effemiphobia of some forms of contemporary gay culture even as it reinstantiates the presumed whiteness of gay male effeminacy.
Elisabeth Windle; Capote’s Swans: Effeminacy, Friendship, and Style in Douglas McGrath’s Infamous. Camera Obscura 1 December 2017; 32 (3 (96)): 63–91. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-4205077
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