Bound: Be Gay, Do Crime

<i>Bound:</i> Be Gay, Do Crime

The first time I saw Bound (1996) was with my “gold star” lesbian girlfriend Kaye. She had never even kissed a boy before she met me—and as it would turn out, I wasn’t a boy anyway. It was the 1990s. I wasn’t out as transgender. As much as I was aware of who or what I was, Kaye was in on the secret. I wasn’t what I appeared. Neither were the Wachowskis. All we knew at the time was that they were former building contractors and that this was their directorial debut. They were not yet the world-famous creators of the Matrix films. Nor were they out as transgender. Now that they are out, and I am, too, both Bound and my first impressions of it appear in a different light.

After we saw the movie, Kaye asked me what I thought of it. Trick question! I enjoyed the stealing-money-from-the-mob story, and adored its lesbian lovers and partners in crime, Corky (Gina Gershon) and Violet (Jennifer Tilly). Corky reminded me of Kaye in some ways. And of course I admired Violet’s high-femme modulation of appearances. I parried: “I don’t know, what did you think?” Kaye liked it, to her surprise, and mine.

Like a lot of viewers back in the nineties, Kaye and I saw Bound through a lesbian essentialist lens. The filmmakers weren’t lesbians, we presumed, so what would they know? On the other hand, the queer legend Susie Bright appeared in the credits as a “technical consultant,” and the patrons of the lesbian bar in the film, called the Watering Hole, read like the lesbians we knew in those days. We’d expected to hate-watch; instead, we found a film to which we could feel connected.

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