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What Does Tilda Swinton Mean When She Says She's Queer?

Tilda Swinton

In a new interview conducted by gay playwright Jeremy O. Harris for British Vogue, actress Tilda Swinton said she considers herself queer and always has.

“I’m very clear that queer is actually, for me anyway, to do with sensibility.” she said in the interview. “I always felt I was queer — I was just looking for my queer circus, and I found it. And having found it, it’s my world. Now I have a family with Wes Anderson, I have a family with Bong Joon-ho, I have a family with Jim Jarmusch, I have a family with Luca Guadagnino, with Lynne Ramsay, with Joanna Hogg.”

It's a little unclear what Swinton means by “queer.” The term usually means that a person is either not cisgender or not straight, but Swinton seems to be using it to express more of a state of being that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with gender or sexuality. It almost seems as if she means “weird.”

Perhaps she is actually using the word as queer people understand it, though. She did mention several queer people when she talked about her own queerness in the interview, including Guadagnino and the deceased photographer-fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Swinton has appeared in several queer-themed projects, including gay director Derek Jarman's Caravaggio and Edward II. She's also played many extremely queer roles, from starring in Orlando as an immortal who changes their gender several times to playing the androgynous angel Gabriel in Constantine to playing the Ancient One — who was a Tibetan man in the comics — in Doctor Strange. She also starred in the boldly sexual Female Perversions opposite Amy Madigan in the 1990s. 

Even when not in queer movie roles, Swinton has a famously androgynous presentation. She’s long been a style icon and a celebrity crush for lesbians and queer women, and she has many gay male fans as well.

An excerpt from the interview is online now, and the full interview is in the magazine's February issue, available in print or via digital download.

Tags: film, Coming Out

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