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Lecture 6

WMST 1000Y Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Neoliberalism, Heteronormativity, Dyke March

Women's Studies
Course Code
WMST 1000Y
Funke A

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Queer What it Means and Why is it Important?
Stonewall Riots in NYC A Myth of Origins
Political Ideologies that Energized LGBTQ Activism
Bathhouse Raids in Toronto in 1981
HIV/AIDS: Epidemic and Activism
Gay Marriage: The End Goal of LGBTQ Activism?
Future Battles
Especially in terms of gender and sexuality
If it is defined as always in opposition to (norms, hegemony, etc…), queer is not defined
by positively (by what queer is)
Queer is defined by what it is not
Did not emerge as an identity category or site of political coalition until the late 80s
Why Would We Want a Queer World?
Liberates LGBTQ People from Marginalization, Disenfranchisement, Oppression, and
Challenges the Normative Frameworks that Determine Personal, Social, and Political
Stonewall? The Reason for the Revolution
June 27th, 1969
A Gay Bar in New York City Greenwich Village (Gay Neighborhood)
Tired of police bullying, patrons resisted arrest
The riot that followed lasted several days
Riot started by women of color, transsexuals, cross dressers, drag queens, prostitutes,
effeminate men and boys
Marsha P. Johnson credited with “throwing the first brick”
Mythology of Stonewall has erased the central place of people of colour, the poor, trans
and other subjects who embody non-normative gender identities
The Myth of Stonewall
Gay Activism did not proceed fully formed from the Stonewall Riots
Gay Activism emerged out of the New Social movements of the 1960s
The African-American civil rights movement,
The Anti-Vietnam war movement,
The student movement,
The Black nationalist movement,
The women’s liberation movement.
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was formed in New York
Gay liberation organizations formed in cities in North America and Europe
Liberation vs Assimilation
Rights and Recognition based approach
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Homosexuals are “just like heterosexuals”
Advocate for the right to participate in existing institutions
Such as marriage, the military, anti-discrimination policies and laws, rights to housing
and healthcare, and social/sexual morality
(More) Radical
Challenges normative regimes that determined modern life
Challenges (sexual) morality, the division of public and private, marriage, and the
oppressive power of the state (police)
Celebrates promiscuity (sex positivity) and sex work
Argues that marriage was an moralizing social institution
Equated the fight for the right to serve in the military as a fight to continue state-
sanctioned murder
Understood capitalism as an oppressive force
“The power wielded by the state and by social and commercial institutions that
systematically promote, tolerate, or sanction prejudice.” (Tom Warner)
Positions heterosexuality as “normal,” hegemonic
To challenge heterosexism may also require challenge normative institutions such as
marriage, the division between public and private, gender norms, the state, and capitalism
Bathhouse Raids
Bath house is an institution where men go to have sex with men. There are lockers and
small rooms, as well as hot tubs and showers.
Bathhouses have had a long and important history in gay culture.
On February 5th, 1981, Toronto Police Services executed “Operation Soap” which
targeted gay men patronizing four different bathhouses in downtown Toronto.
Even though it is thought to be “Canada’s Stonewall,” just like Stonewall, the myth of
origins is never pure and simple.
Charter of Rights and Freedoms
In 1981, the provinces of Canada, with the exception of Quebec, reached a constitutional
agreement called “The Constitution Act” which included the “Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms.”
When it came into force in 1985, this document provided the means by which
discriminatory laws or government policies could be challenged in the courts.
Gay assimilationist activism was invested in appealing to the courts and existing legal
and political system to achieve equality.
Section 15 could be interpreted as including sexual orientation (and later gender identity).
HIV/AIDS in Canada
HIV/AIDS forced the Canadian population to take notice of LGBT communities in ways
that the LGBT activist movements hadn’t been able to do before
The organizations and strategies of the existing LGBT Activist movements helped
radicalize the activism of these new HIV/AIDS organizations
Radical Activism
Political activism exercised within the bounds of respectable politics was too slow and
often too ineffective to enact the political change that was desperately needed.
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