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Queer Intimacy and the Impasse: Reconsidering My Beautiful Laundrette

Vinh Nguyen


This paper reconsiders the queer interracial relationship in Hanif Kureshi and Stephen Frears’ seminal film My Beautiful Laundrette (1985). Rather than analyze the romance between the main protagonists as a national and personal “union” that provides resolution to complex racial issues, I argue that Omar and Johnny’s relationship makes room for the possibility of connection and contact, however fraught and tenuous, without denying histories of racial violence or flattening out forms of difference. As an “impasse,” their queer relationship suggests the potential of coexistence that does not offer reconciliation between the nation and racialized subjects. Through a reading of the film, I suggest that intimacy is not broken by the accommodation of past and present racial injury within its plane of desire. Instead, queer desire defers interracial resolution but does not deny the possibility of intimacy, of something yet to come.


Black British Cinema, South Asian Diaspora, Queer Sexuality, Interracial Relations, Affect

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The Johns Hopkins University Press

ISSN: 1920-1222

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