“From Bogeyman to Bison: a herd-like amnesia of HIV/AIDS in theatre?”
Queer theorists from across a broad range of disciplines argue that we are in a “normalizing” or “homonormative” period, in which marginalized subjectivities strive to align themselves with hegemonic norms. In terms of LGBTQ rights and representation, it can be argued that this has resulted in an increased visibility of “desirable” gays (monogamous – ideally civil-partnered, white, financially-independent, able-bodied) and the decreased visibility of “undesirable” gays (the sick, the poor, the non-white, the non gender-conforming). Focusing specifically on the effects of this hierarchy on the contemporary theatrical representation of gay HIV/AIDS subjectivities, this article looks at two performances, Reza Abdoh’s Bogeyman (1991) and Lachlan Philpott’s Bison (2009/10). The essay argues that HIV/AIDS performance is as urgently necessary today as in the early 1990s, and that a queer dramaturgy, unafraid to resist the lure of normativity or the ‘gaystreaming’ of LGBT representation, is a vital intervention strategy in contemporary (LGBT) theatre.