Coming to terms with one’s sexuality is a difficult, turbulent experience for those who identify outside of the hetero norm. In his new film ADORABLE, Taiwanese animator and director Cheng-Hsu Chung illustrates the experiences queer bodies encounter when navigating sexuality within today’s queer culture. Chung brings issues such as femmephobia, body-shaming, and racism within the LGBTQ+ community to light, all in the form of fluid and brightly coloured illustrations.
RCA graduate Chung combines surrealist imagery and abstract animation to take viewers on an acid trip. From oppressive isolation to extreme liberation, the experimental film connects elements of modern queer culture, representing the stages that many LGBTQ individuals undergo in accepting their identities. As a QPOC himself, Chung draws upon his own personal experiences; “It is a semi-autobiographical work, it isn’t representative of all queer people, but for the most part I hold it to be real,” Chung explains to Dazed. “I’ve reimagined my own experiences and fantasies, as well as those of others to illustrate the queer community.”
Growing up in a very traditional family home, Chung had limited access to queer culture when coming of age. Like many young QPOC, his introduction to, and initial exploration of his sexuality was through porn. In ADORABLE, Chung illustrates the way in which porn, online dating apps, and nightlife act as gateways into the world of queerness for many. Inspired by the free-spirited nature of drag queens, Chung uses the idea of queer club space, a place of expression, to paint a utopian picture of queerness.
In this utopia, nothing is off-limits. The narrative of the film explores themes of coming out, body-shaming, gender performativity, and drug use in relation to nightlife and sex. Chung uses his colourful hand-painted animations to show everything from phallic chemsex scenes to graphic drug use, joyfully bringing these private spaces into the public. He believes that existing queer-themed animations “tend to be conservative at times, and are a step behind in relation to certain topics.”
Debuting on Dazed as part of LGBTQ+ history month, ADORABLE presents a thought-provoking, liberated perspective on queer discrimination, freedom and love. Watch it above.