ESTHER NEWTON MADE ME GAY
JEAN CARLAMUSTO | USA | 2022 | 92 MIN | ENGLISH
Esther Newton’s cultural anthropology work formed the cornerstone of what we now know as LGBTQ & Gender Studies. By her side, we take a time journey as emotionally and intellectually curious as Esther herself, from academia’s treacherous waters to the dog agility course where she further proves her mettle.
Though neglected in childhood after a brief, fanatic closeness with her Communist mother, Esther was relentlessly loving in life, her gender deviancy drawing her towards outsiders who she hoped to give a voice in scholarly circles. Her groundbreaking Mother Camp illuminated the world of drag queens, for whom she had an affinity, feeling like a female impersonator herself as someone who wholeheartedly identified with butch lesbianism. And she went on to give Cherry Grove, Fire Island and her own Butch Career similar elucidation. Filmmaker and activist Jean Carlomusto underscores how Esther’s incredible accomplishments and deep humanity continue to push queer spaces towards further inclusivity, as lovers and contemporary academics sing her praises, today’s youth appreciate her impact, and her adorable dogs hang on her every command. By the end of this cerebral yet big-hearted doc, you’ll know exactly why.