Shaun Cole - Looking for Cucumber: Representations of gay men's style on television comedy drama - 10/01/2019

FSW Lecture in collaboration with A* - the Antwerp Gender and Sexuality Studies Network

About the lecture

The representation of gay men in gay-focused made for television drama saw two particularly significant contributions in the middle years of the second decade of 21st century. HBO’s comedy-drama series Looking, which premiered on Sky Atlantic in the UK on 27 January 2014, followed the lives of a group of predominantly gay male friends living in San Francisco (arguably in a nod to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City novels). Over the course of two seasons and a finale ‘movie’ Patrick, Dom and Augustin are followed through the ups and downs of their social, work and romantic lives in San Francisco. Premiered on UK Channel 4 almost a year later (on 22 January 2015) Cucumber, written by Russel T Davies who had found television notoriety with his 1999 drama Queer as Folk, followed the complexity of 21st century gay life in Manchester, England through the lens of the break-up of boyfriends Henry and Lance. Both Looking and Cucumber drew on and challenged previous old stereotypes, archetypes and new representations of gay men in terms of social circles, relationships, intersectionality of identity and, of particular pertinence to this paper, dressed appearance. This paper will consider the fashion-dress-style (Tulloch 2010) ‘choices’ the main protagonists and supporting characters in both Looking and Cucumber. It will examine continuity of existing gay styles, for example through the 1970s clone-like style of Looking’s Dom, age-appropriate dressing through Henry and consider notions of butch and camp styling through supporting characters in both series.

About the speaker

Dr Shaun Cole is a writer, lecturer and curator, working on fashion, dress, masculinities and sexuality, and is currently Associate Professor in Fashion at Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton). He is Vice Chair of the Costume Society UK and associate editor of the Fashion Style and Popular Culture. Shaun’s publications include ‘Don We Now Our Gay Apparel’: Gay Men’s Dress in the Twentieth Century (2000), Dialogue: Relationships in Graphic Design (2005) The Story of Men's Underwear (2010) and Fashion Media: Past and Present (2013). His exhibitions notably include ‘Graphic Responses to AIDS’ (1996), ‘Dressing the Male’ (1999) and ‘Black British Style’ (2004). He is currently working on a new book Gay Men’s Style: Fashion, Dress and Sexuality in the 21st Century.


Thursday 10 January 2019
Venue: room M.002, de Meerminne, St-Jacobstraat 2, 2000 Antwerp
The lecture is in English.

Participation is free, but online registration is mandatory.