There’s a peculiar, as-yet-unnamed brand of millennial-shaming that comes from streaming services that let you know what your taste is based on viewing habits. (“Because you watched Les Misérables…” Who told you? Who told you?!) For the gay viewer who has scanned mainstream platforms trying to find queer movies of quality, there’s a very specific shame, the sense of social disenfranchisement that comes from realizing what paltry options we have at all. With Netflix, that flouter of traditional categorizing, there’s no way to find gay-themed films outside of arbitrary groupings based on personal algorithms, so you’d better hope that re-watch of Stranger by the Lake helps the machine find something for you other than Bear Cub or Poltergay. Hulu actually offers an LGBT category, and it’s grown a bit, but it’s still just a subset of an already small general catalog. Historically, Amazon Prime has been fairly well-stocked, but there’s something demoralizing about Todd Haynes and Derek Jarman movies having to knock knees with gay-for-pay rent-boy exposés and Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds (which is actually pretty good).
The queer cavalry has attempted to come to the rescue with a couple of new streaming services. Yes, it’s unfortunate that embracing our “difference” can mean shelling out another 10 bucks a month for a different app (diversity isn’t just a moral, social imperative—it’s good for capitalism!). Yet Dekkoo is a welcome addition to the lineup of niche platforms, such as FilmStruck and Shudder, that truly seem to care about who’s watching and why—though they unmistakably skew male. While most popular digital platforms are often frustrating for cinephiles with their lack of an editorial outlook, lumping everything together in one unsearchable mass, Dekkoo is, conversely, most appealing for the way it puts everything on the same plane. One can sort through them via the expected queer movie preoccupations (Camp, Coming-of-Age, Transgender, Vampires!), but, for the cinephile, the real fun is panning for the diamond in the rough. Sure, Dekkoo has something called I Was a Teenage Werebear, but oh so casually, it offers such rarely accessible landmarks as Jean Genet’s Un chant d’amour, David Buckley’s Saturday Night at the Baths, Ron Peck’s Nighthawks, and Patrice Chéreau’s L’homme blessé; and contemporary wonders like Julián Hernández’s Raging Sun, Raging Sky, Benjamin Crotty’s Fort Buchanan (found in the “Military” section!), and Patric Chiha’s still-unreleased Fassbinderian doc-melodrama hybrid Brothers of the Night.
The selection over at Qreel, recently launched by Breaking Glass Pictures and NakedSword Film Works (NSFW, get it?), is not quite the same treasure trove, but it’s still getting its feet wet and hopefully will expand to include more major titles. In other words, more Taxi zum Klo, less Sauna the Dead, please. Until then, one can browse its predictably enticing interface, with its mass of undifferentiated images of waxed chests, tighty whities, and drag queens. Enjoy it or resent it—or both; it’s all a matter of taste.
Michael Koresky is the director of editorial and creative strategy at Film Society of Lincoln Center; the co-founder and co-editor of Reverse Shot; a frequent contributor to the Criterion Collection; and the author of the book Terence Davies, published by University of Illinois Press.