Words by Anna Day
The mark of a great story is often its ability to provoke fresh, compelling ideas and present readers with unseen perspectives. under/Limelight by Tanner Muller does just that by providing an insight into the queer-male experience in Australia and exploring the queer dating app space of our modern age.
Spaced across six short stories, under/Limelight’s intertwined characters, a mix of online personas situated in their everyday lives, is in equal parts foreign and familiar. Set against the backdrop of adolescence and young adulthood in Australian suburbs, the stories drift between the disconnect of the transactional world of dating apps and the frustrations of growing up queer in Australia. It is remarkable in style and clarity and brings out the complex vulnerability, strength, tension and compassion of being young and queer.
under/Limelight is a pertinent reminder of how the queer experience is one that can leave people feeling bereft from love in a society that has only recently accepted marriage equality. A reminder that the healing from the harm of intolerance, which is only slowly easing, is ongoing. And a reminder that members of the queer community can also do damage and that these moments, interactions and pain are often suffered in silence.
In saying this, under/Limelight records the experiences of people who refuse to be anything but themselves and in doing so sways readers with the stories of people who have an urgency and desire for life. It’s an understated but powerful piece of work that navigates between resistance to create more open, authentic spaces than any online dating app ever could.