July 12, 2023
LGBTQ Thrillers

LGBTQ Thrillers

What is an LGBTQ Thriller? The Novelty and Nuance of the Genre.

The cloak-and-dagger world of thrillers, from those tinged with horror to ones packed with suspense, often thrive on novelty. The element of the unexpected keeps the reader or viewer on edge, their heart pounding as they navigate the labyrinth of plot twists. Here enters the LGBTQ thriller, a sub-genre that incorporates the richness of queer narratives within the traditional thriller framework.

So, what makes a thriller an LGBTQ thriller? Simply put, it’s a thriller that centers on LGBTQ characters or explores themes that are crucial to the LGBTQ community. These themes could range from coming out and identity exploration, to social acceptance and persecution. An LGBTQ thriller, like all thrillers, thrives on suspense and surprise, but it does so while spotlighting the trials, triumphs, and, in these instances, terrors of the LGBTQ experience.

The distinction of LGBTQ thrillers lies in their exploration of themes, action, plot, characters, and tropes. Much of this genre’s vitality stems from how LGBTQ characters are portrayed. While other thrillers might use LGBTQ characters in secondary roles or as plot devices, LGBTQ thrillers put these characters front and center, painting them as complex individuals whose identities drive the story, not just decorate it.

As for the tropes, oh how they dance differently! In most thrillers, romantic elements are often sidelined to accentuate action, suspense, and horror. LGBTQ thrillers, however, tend to weave in romance more tightly into the narrative, pulling on the strands of love, passion, and heartbreak in their drive towards the climax. The old saying “the personal is political” also rings true for the LGBTQ thriller. Identity, society, politics, and personal struggle are intertwined, adding depth and resonance to the story.

The plotlines of LGBTQ thrillers can vary as greatly as a box of prismatic Crayolas. They may speak to the unique vulnerabilities faced by LGBTQ individuals, making the stakes feel higher and the suspense more acute. For instance, a lesbian character might have to confront a homophobic villain or an outing threat that compromises her safety. Similarly, the menace could be an internal one, an exploration of the psychological terror of grappling with one’s identity in a world that can be hostile.

When it comes to action, LGBTQ thrillers often deliver a double punch. They retain the high-adrenaline chases, thrilling encounters, and nail-biting showdowns that define the thriller genre, while also unveiling action through the lens of LGBTQ struggle, resilience, and rebellion. This might mean a gay spy using his queerness as a disguise or a transgender detective using her unique insight to crack a case that others can’t.

Now, let’s delve into some fantastic examples. On the silver screen, “Stranger by the Lake” is a French thriller that captivates. It’s a haunting exploration of desire and danger in a gay cruising spot, where love lurks in the shadow of a serial killer. Another movie, “Bound,” is an American neo-noir thriller featuring a lesbian couple trying to rob the mob, all wrapped in a high-stakes, high-suspense narrative.

As for novels, “The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters is an intoxicating mix of post-WWI societal drama and a lesbian love affair that spirals into a gripping crime story. On the edgier side, “In the Woods” by Tana French introduces detective Rob Ryan, who not only deals with a chilling murder case, but also struggles with his own identity and past trauma.

Taking a slightly different tack, the graphic novel “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by Alison Bechdel, though not a conventional thriller, incorporates elements of suspense and intrigue as it explores Bechdel’s own coming-out process in relation to her father’s hidden homosexuality and suicide.The sub-genre of the LGBTQ thriller, in essence, breaks open the door for queer characters and themes to take the spotlight, offering not just representation but also a thrilling exploration of the complexities of LGBTQ life. Both on page and screen, LGBTQ thrillers tap into the veins of suspense and surprise, weaving in the intricacies of LGBTQ experiences to deliver something truly unique. There’s an undeniable electricity, a distinct resonance, and an added layer of depth that sets the genre apart from other thrillers.

From clandestine romance to the nerve-wracking confrontation of villains both external and internal, LGBTQ thrillers continue to captivate audiences, adding new dimensions to the traditional thrill of the chase. Whether the tale is of a lesbian couple against the mob, a gay detective grappling with his past, or a tormented family secret coming to light, there is an LGBTQ thriller out there guaranteed to set hearts pounding and pages turning. Indeed, the genre seems poised to not just enrich the thriller canon, but also to redefine it.

This is the captivating world of LGBTQ thrillers: diverse, authentic, thrilling, and decidedly off-beat. So, the next time a storm is howling outside or a quiet evening beckons for some excitement, consider picking up an LGBTQ thriller. The journey is guaranteed to be as unexpected as it is unforgettable, as thrilling as it is deeply human.

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