This essay examines the game played in the first act of Barry Jenkins’s 2016 film Moonlight. “Smear the queer” is a game most resembling tackle football. The author examines how the “rules” of the game manifest as a type of power, one whose function is to set the terms of relation. Smear the queer engenders a calculus of violence, as the game represents a mode of policing, and the film highlights the ways race, gender, and sexuality are marshaled to regulate queer Black people’s embodied expression. Focusing on those who touch protagonist Chiron’s life, the author considers smear the queer as it comes into play off the field, arguing that the smear—a framework for relation and a politic of touch—seeks to exploit queer vulnerability in order to make violence intimate and permanent in day-to-day interactions so that it no longer figures as spectacular. Such a tactic seeks to foreclose the otherwise world-making possibilities of being and becoming, living and creating “with.”

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