Moonlight conjures blaqueer magic

Curator's Note

Blue has marked critical points in Queer Cinema: the IKB blue of Blue (1993) by Derek Jarman, the godfather of queer cinema; Emma's beautiful blue eyes and hair in Kechiche's Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013), and Moonlight (Jenkins, 2016) adapted from McCraney's play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue". The thread of blue weaving such critical queer films together compels one to repeat after Akira Lippit the question if blue is always queer. Jarman's call "Oh, Blue, come forth!" is the title of one of the chapters in Daren Fowler's thesis on the film where he dives deep down into this transversal color of the transmedial work by Jarman; blue queers media, bodies, and languages.

Moonlight is washed by the liquidity of the color blue from its beginning to the end; even before the opening shot of Juan driving his blue car, we hear the blue waters and waves. Liquidity associated with the color blue resonates with the vibrational transitions that give water its color, blue. In Moonlight, Juan's story of his encounter with the old lady who said "In moonlight black boys look blue" and the moral of the story he gives after Little asks if his name is blue open up questions of color and vision, search for identity and recognition, even sexuality and queerness in the frame of the film's aesthetic interests in liquidity (sounds of the waves) and blueness (the specific tinge the human eye tends to see in moonlight).

Reading that the tinge of blue appears when human eyes become maximally dark adapted in published scientific research, I think of queerness and fluidity, transformation and becoming, even conjuring and magic. In "Conjuring Blaqueer Magic", a keynote discussion with Tarell McCraney and Jafari S. Allen hosted by Morehouse College Safe Space, Allen emphasized the necessity of a community and connection with others to defend the dead and fight to prevent further harm to survive. Moonlight conjures blaqueer magic as Little learns to swim in Juan's arms right before he listens to Juan's story; the first real bond Little has with a father figure like Juan in the blue waters opens up a space for recognition and acceptance of his sexuality through its association of blackness with the queering color blue. Submerging us in water with Little and Juan through its camerawork, Moonlight connects us all to conjure blaqueer magic. And we all say: Oh, Blue, come forth!


Moonlight symbolizes the systematic journey in examining what we consider normal. The correlation between blue as a color and queer cinema strikes a sudden crescendo as I contemplated more examples of your comparison. Moonlight envelops anyone who wants acceptance through introspection. The variation of Moonlight in blue is Chiron’s interaction with his disconnected love that he has for his biological mom. As a result, Chiron evaluates the safety he has when he is in Teresa’s home. The haven that she presents offers dialogue for blue to be examined more fluidly. When Chiron has inquiries about if he is a “faggot” or not, Teresa and Juan provide comforting answers that help Chiron become more reassured that the feelings he has are valid. The jealousy Chiron’s mother has for his relationship with Juan and Teresa, illuminate in blue because she is unable to avoid her drug addiction and parent effectively. As Chiron matures, he comes to the realization that the color blue in the moonlight can be explored to its full potential. Through his encounter on the beach, Chiron’s feelings were approved by his friend, Kevin. Chiron finally is enveloped with love from within. The conversation between Juan and Chiron at the beach assist in your examination of queer cinema satisfying our need for acceptance. How can we examine the process of internalizing queer cinema as individuals avoiding labels?

Thank you for your response and question, Pamella. I was thinking among similar lines when the film made me think about queerness and blackness. I felt there was something about blue: the power to appeal, mesmerize, and also queer. Blue appearing in moonlight or its power of appeal in directing our vision ("when blue light is scattered into your eye no matter which direction you look", as cited in another research/publication by NASA) or other interesting points raised (as also outlined in Daren Fowler's thesis) such as how it is usually the last color to appear in languages, how it is rarely found in nature, and how most people in the world say it's their favorite color, all these qualities of blue make me think of the politics of its magical powers. If it is a favorite color for most people, can it also be effective in making them more open, hospitable, and accepting towards queerness? Blue plays a key role in Moonlight conjuring blaqueer magic, showing that we all understand and love Little, Chiron, Black.

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