From homonationalism to shame in the Israeli documentary Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life

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This article explores the role of the affective experience of shame in Tomer Heymann’s documentary Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life (2018) about internationally successful Israeli gay porn star Jonathan Agassi. It argues that by emphasizing shame as constitutive of Agassi’s queer identity, the film subverts the hypermasculine, Israeli, militarized image of his star persona. The film thus refuses to support the conservative trend of Israel’s LGBT community that aims to remove stigmas from gay identities within a logic of homonormative and homonational sexual politics of ‘pride.’ In this film, shame becomes a refuge, a site of solidarity and belonging for Agassi as well as for Heymann, the filmmaker. Both resist mainstream Israeli gay politics and refuse to adopt the sexual and national identity that this normative logic demands. The question of queer identity in the film is organized around the formative experience of shame and based on the relation to others. Thus, the film, in effect, produces a queer sociability and ethics in shame.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Documentary Film
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Israeli documentary
  • Shame
  • gay pornography
  • homonationalism
  • queer performativity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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