“I Just Had a Fight with My Girlfriend”: Silent-Era Screen Star Ramón Novarro’s Performance of the Closet

Friday, January 5, 2018: 9:10 AM
Washington Room 2 (Marriott Wardman Park)
Ernesto Chávez, University of Texas at El Paso
This paper is part of larger book project on the life of Ramón Novarro, the Mexican-born, devout Catholic, and gay actor who achieved stardom in the Jazz Age and whose career continued into the Vietnam War Era. Novarro was outed posthumously when in 1968 he was tragically killed by a male hustler (whom he hired). However, if one reads the many articles and statements he issued throughout his career it becomes clear that he used queer codes to, what literary critic Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has deemed, perform the closet. “I Just Had a Fight with My Girlfriend” uses newspaper accounts of Novarro’s arrests and his use of the press to highlight his Catholic devotion in the twilight of his career, as examples of his performance of the closet. By examining Novarro’s actions, this paper hopes to make larger claims about Latino gay men’s experiences in the mid-twentieth century in order to provide greater insight into how they fashioned transnational queer subjectivities in an era of intense homophobia and racism
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation