Conceived as the second film in Callum McGrath’s Film Archives trilogy, this new video work continues
McGrath’s interest in the re-articulation of history, conceiving the past in new ways that challenge typical
forms of historiography. This project reconstructs specifically the history of queer organisations and
societies, to consider how conservative politics has perversely shaped their trajectories. The project
questions who the future is built for and how the ideological structures that prop it up can be critiqued.
The Gay Agenda stems from McGrath’s research into the Mattachine Society, the first gay rights
organisation in America. The Mattachine Society was founded by three Marxist communists in Los
Angeles and its legacy paved the way for many LGBTQIA+ organisations around the world. After three
years the founding members were kicked out of the organisation due to their ties with the USA
Communist Party, in an attempt to make the Society’s agenda more palatable for the community. This
video initially starts in a documentary format, quickly descending into fictive and speculative freefall. The
Gay Agenda considers the intricate and complicated political forces that shaped the course of gay rights
organisations, especially in regards to its normalisation, de-sexualsation and attachments to capitalism.
The Gay Agenda considers how temporalities of modern family life were invented by the conservative
right and in turn weaponised as an exclusionary force against multiple minority groups. The project
complicates the legacy of gay rights movements and considers how they have been shaped by these forces.
Presented as an alternative reality, the work narratively suggests that a gay underground conspiracy does
in fact exist and is plotting an extreme escape from Earth’s impending collapse.
McGrath’s practice explores how queer time theory can be applied to video and collage-based work to create
temporal junctures that critique dominant forms of remembrance that do not cater to the complexities or
perceived ‘truth’ of the past. The Gay Agenda examines Lee Edelman’s controversial text No Future:
Queer Theory and the Death Drive, pushing Edelman’s argument for radical queer anti-futurity to its
extreme. In the book, Edelman argued that politics is structured by the family and that queerness should
radically reject the future. Not to be taken as a serious proposal, The Gay Agenda instead generates an
alternative reality to contemplate the relationship between past, present and future.