"Gerstner is a master theorist who renders a compelling and cutting-edge narrative about the complexity of black homosexual desire. The first book of its kind to specifically address the formation of black queer subjectivity in relation to white seduction, Queer Pollen offers a major contribution to African American studies, gender studies, film studies, literary studies, and art history."--E. Patrick Johnson, author of Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South
"[Gerstner] is extremely well informed on the landmark work in critical theory...and continues to establish his reputation as an influential daredevil theorist who probes the complexity of identity. Highly recommended."--Choice
"Queer Pollen examines the work of three queer black creators: Harlem Renaissance aesthete Richard Bruce Nugent, novelist, James Baldwin and filmmaker Marlon Riggs . . . Like all twentieth and even twenty-first century creators, all three have a relationship to film which emerges in their work in multimedia and in the written word . . . Gerstner asks us to de-naturalise the cinematic frame of reference and understand how it can be used as a strategy to examine how power relations are manifested as looks and inscribed on the body through desire and shame. Instead of poisoned fruit, these three authors offer insight into the ways in which desire draws its own authenticity by consuming and reappropriating a collage of different cultural forms."
Somatechnics 2.1 (March 2012)
If there is one scholar who has been setting the bar in cinematic masculinity studies, it is David Gerstner of CUNY, College of Staten Island. His two recent volumes, both multidisciplinary, Manly Arts: Masculinity and the Nation in Early American Cinema and Queer Pollen: White Seduction, Black Male Homosexuality, and the Cinematic demonstrate that highly theoretical, complex works can be intriguing, relevant, creative, and bold all at the same time. In Queer Pollen, Gerstner examines the work of Richard Bruce Nugent, James Baldwin, and Marlon Riggs, three of the most influential black gay artists of the twentieth century. Though Riggs was the only filmmaker per se (Baldwin was on the fringes of cinema culture as a screenwriter and film essayist), Gerstner interrogates the impact of this work on homoerotic whiteness, “a decadent cross-pollination between black and white.” Theorists often privilege the “blackness” over the “gayness” in these three artists’ work; Gerstner demonstrates the messiness of their artistic conceptualization and the multiple influences that inform their oeuvres. In addition, he demonstrates their use of the “cinematic” (as an aesthetic and as an apparatus). As Gerstner says of Riggs’s work, “He ably directed his career-long work toward the intricate cross-pollination of cultures that ultimately resisted a definition of identity once and for all.”
Gerald Butters, CHOICE (February 2014)