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Queerness in Media: 'Love Lies Bleeding'

Apr 19, 2024

Queerness in Media: ‘Love Lies Bleeding’

Ella Dame

The presence of queerness and queer identity in the media holds great weight and importance. Seeing yourself represented on the big screen can be very affirming, and is a way to educate other viewers on queer culture. With movies like “Moonlight” (2016) and “Call Me By Your Name” (2017) not only reaching the big screen but winning academy awards among many others, queer cinema has begun to reach the forefront of American pop culture. As more mainstream films that feature queer identities are released, we want to celebrate them together!


Love Lies Bleeding

“Loves Lies Bleeding”, directed by Rose Glass, tells the chaotic queer love story of gym manager Lou (Kristen Stewart) and hopeful bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O’Brian) set in 1989 in rural New Mexico. The film is thrilling, sensual, and fast-paced centered by its queer identity. The love between Lou and Jackie is that of a sapphic Thelma and Louise, developing alongside their criminal endeavors.

Jackie and Lou sitting closely together at the gym


How Queerness Is Shown

One of the most exciting facets of “Love Lies Bleeding” is the unapologetic queerness as well as the way it is depicted within the film. Lou identifies as lesbian and Jackie identifies as bisexual, making their love a bit dangerous during the time period.

  1. Plot – While there are instances of homophobic displays that align with the setting, their queerness is a compliment to the plot rather than a discouraging plot line. While there’s a few homophobic comments made, characters fight back and are accepted by their families without second thought. At one point, Jackie is asking Lou why she does not speak with her criminally involved father and asks if it is because he knows she “likes girls”. Lou audibly laughs and says he doesn't care about that without further explanation. While this may seem like a small detail to some, the nonchalant dismissal of that being an issue throughout the film illustrates the normalcy of queer relationships and romance.

  2. Romance – Not only is their relationship depicted in public but in private too. The overall tone of the movie is thrilling and chaotic, and the montages of their relationship are no different. From realistic scenes of their morning routine to their gym sessions, the movie displays the reality of a queer relationship despite the fictional thrilling tones underlying the plot. This presentation of deep connections between queer individuals and the quiet, intimate moments they have, like then they lay in bed just looking at each other quietly, is rightfully celebrated.

  3. Clothing – A very large portion of the movie is dictated by the clothing the characters wear. The movie takes place in the late 80s and the clothing reflects that accurately. Not only do the characters' outfits have to represent the time period and location but, the queer identities of the characters as well. Lou spends most of the film in boxier fitting tank tops like our Romeo, that express masculinity through the structure and fit of the top.
    The Romeo tank top, a trans-masc main character go-to

Both&’s Community Take

As a homebase for queer celebration and self-expression, Both& also invites you to use your powerful voice to reflect on queer media and explain what queerness in media means to you! We’d love to hear your thoughts on “Love Lies Bleeding” and different ways films can express queerness in our off-topic channel on our Discord!

Jackie and Lou from Love Lies Bleeding 2024