Keiynan Lonsdale and Ezra Miller's campy gender-bending photoshoot is a victory for the queer community

Keiynan Lonsdale and Ezra Miller's campy gender-bending photoshoot is a victory for the queer community
Ezra Miller (Source : Getty Images)

Ahead of the MET Gala, queer actors Ezra Miller and Keiynan Lonsdale have posed in glorious gowns and fabulous dresses in a new Vogue shoot. The theme for this years Met Gala is "Camp: Notes on Fashion", which will take place from May 6 through September 8 at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The photoshoot, published on Tuesday, shows the two actors dripping camp magnificence in contrasting black-and-white outfits. The high-drama photoshoot is a treat for the eyes as it fuses the seemingly unnatural with the mainstream.

According to Vogue, Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, has framed the exhibition around Susan Sontag’s crucial 1964 essay 'Notes on "Camp,"' which asserted different ways in which the concept could be interpreted.

Bolton explains that he found Sontag’s writings -- in a nutshell, she argued that camp is the “love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration . . . style at the expense of content . . . the triumph of the epicene style” -- so timely with what we are going through culturally and politically that, “I felt it would have a lot of cultural resonance.”

Camp's relevance in today's age is explained by Bolton himself as he says that the theme perfectly matches the current socio-political environment.

"We are going through an extreme camp moment, and it felt very relevant to the cultural conversation to look at what is often dismissed as empty frivolity but can be actually a very sophisticated and powerful political tool, especially for marginalised cultures," he was quoted saying in The New York Times, adding "Whether it's pop camp, queer camp, high camp or political camp - Trump is a very camp figure - I think it's very timely."

The camp shoot has brought upon itself praise and criticism alike. Reddit user "_Have-a_nice-day_" laments the use of certain terminology when referring to camp. They told MEA WorldWide, "The use of 'strange', 'unnatural', 'exaggerated', 'worn in the wrong way' feels so homophobic from outside the fashion culture. I get that they [people] are talking about clothes that are all those things, so I'm not crying wolf here. But it's odd when they say 'camp is...'"


Though they admit that representation of the queer and drag community along these lines proves well for normalization.

Many even deem this as a step in the right direction. "Normalising queerness is essential to representation. Even if it’s just a style of clothes it still steps over the line society has drawn dividing “feminine” and “masculine”. To have it represented in such a way that feels flawless (as though they weren’t trying to shoehorn in representation) and inclusive of all people is really a good step in the right direction," Reddit user "Lemons-are-evil" tells MEAWW.

But Dr Angela Jones, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Farmingdale State College, who is an author, and teaches and conducts research in subjects such as African-American history, gender, and the gay community, has reservations about the campaign.

"Some people might read the new camp Vogue photo shoot for the Met's spring exhibit as a celebration of queer culture. The spread features cisgender male actors Keiynan Lonsdale and Ezra Miller in gorgeous dresses. Given that Lonsdale has said that he is attracted to people regardless of gender, and Miller identifies as queer, at first glance, this campaign does not necessarily feel like the usual media appropriation of queer culture," she tells MEAWW.


She brings to point how earlier this year in March, 'Pose' star Billy Porter donned a Christian Siriano Tuxedo Gown to the 91st Oscars. "So, is this move by Vogue motivated by a desire to celebrate queer cultures or capitalize on a particular cultural moment? In many ways, any increased visibility of queer culture is positive for queer representation, but before we rush to celebrate, we should think about who we should be congratulating - in this case, Vogue or the people in actual queer communities who pioneered camp and drag?"

Billy Porter attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Getty Images)


We think it is a mix of both: over the years, every time one does something gender-bending, it bodes well for the queer community.


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