The films examined to date show how the trinity of boundary, violation and reaction consistently operates to determine when feelings of sexual shame—mainly shock, nausea, distress and humiliation—are triggered, and how these reactions manifest as aggression (Brandon’s rape and murder in Boys Don’t Cry) or rejection (Lynda’s deliberately abusive rejection by her father in Wish You Were Here). The latter film, in particular, also shows how these individual sexual boundaries function at a societal level. The films in this chapter explore how an individual’s place in the community comes under threat when their sexual expression violates accepted communal boundaries.
The sense of belonging to a community can be understood in many ways, with social, political and religious forms being among the most obvious. To belong means to share in the beliefs and participate in the events and rituals of a given community. Religious observation, membership in a political party or workers’ union, supporting a sports team and drinking at the local watering hole are all ways of saying “I belong.”
As Wish You Were Here demonstrates, in addition to these visible forms of belonging, all communities also have a set of invisible sexual rules to which its members are expected to adhere
As Wish You Were Here demonstrates, in addition to these visible forms of belonging, all communities also have a set of invisible sexual rules to which its members are expected to adhere. Last Exit to Brooklyn shows how far a community will go to enforce compliance with these rules and ensure they are passed on to succeeding generations.