Esther Newton Made Me Gay


Firehouse Cinema Wed, Sep 6 7:00 PM
Q&A with Esther Newton, Jean Carlomusto, and Shanti Avirgan, moderated by Debra Zi
Firehouse Cinema Thu, Sep 7 7:00 PM
Cast/Crew Info
Directed by:Jean Carlomusto
Produced by:Shanti Avirgan
Film Info
Event Type:Special Event
Runtime:92 min
Release Year:2022
Production Country:U.S.
Original Language:English
Event Type Link:


Wed Sep 6: Q&A with Esther Newton, Director Jean Carlomusto, and Producer Shanti Avirgan, moderated by Debra Zimmerman


Esther Newton Made Me Gay explores the life and times of cultural anthropologist Esther Newton. The film tells her story of awakening to gay life in the 1950’s, the women’s liberation movement and lesbian-feminism, drag culture, and forging a butch identity that for her is in conversation with trans-masculinity. Keenly attuned to the societal forces that shaped her life, Esther guides us through an anthropology of herself, a study influenced by her love for a sport – competitive dog agility – that pairs her aging butch body with her beloved dog teammate on an obstacle course that is constantly changing.


In her persistent efforts to train her body back into shape after numerous health setbacks, we see the intense drive that helped Esther navigate a lifetime of obstacles she faced in her quest to become who she wanted to be: a butch lesbian, scholar, and athlete.


Throughout her career, Esther was a pioneer – questioning and challenging status quo assumptions on gender, sexuality, and anthropological methods. Her work inspired generations of scholars to pursue research in what would eventually become the field of LGBTQ & Gender Studies.


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