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WGS272 Thursday March 29th, 2012
Homonormativity and Homonationalism
The Homonormative, Lisa Duggan
A politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and
institutions but upholds and sustains them
Prominent lesbian and gay rights organizations increasingly embrace agendas
that vie for acceptance within contemporary economic and political systems.
Since the 1980’s this has occurred
These organizations have accepted certain rights while giving up activist
agenda’s that the mainstream might have a problem with
Neoliberal philosophy of consumer and private rights rather than that of citizen
Normative culture has accepted gays to a certain degree because it
benefits from it
Endorse normative and family-oriented formations associated with domestic
partnership, monogamy (against promiscuity to prevent AIDS), adoption, and
gender-normative social roles.
There is a kind of erosion in celebrating perversion
Gender normative social roles – queer’s need to clean up their act and
look representable to culture
Independent Gay Forum
Leading organization was the Independent Gay Forum
They wanted legal equality and inclusion; in turn, gays would contribute to
“decency of our national life”
They wanted gays to be imagined as being contributors to the
Believed in personal liberty and moral autonomy and believed that these
values depend on the institution of a free market economy and limited
government (the fundamental values of neo-liberalism).
Believed in capitalism and no state control
They do not contest heteronormative assumptions and institutions.
Institutions like marriage
They were against radical social change.
“is privatization, the term that describes the transfer of wealth and decision
making from public, more-or-less accountable decision-making bodies to
individual or corporate, unaccountable hands.”
Neo-liberalism’s main goal is a global economy that allows any business
person to set up shop anywhere without any regulations
Neo-liberation is essentially privatization
Neoliberals want the state to support privatization and promote welfare state
programs (especially those that benefit the more affluent)
They depend on the state to deregulate as much as possible
Neoliberalism has a sexual politics: gay access to marriage and the military.
Not-a-right-to privacy in public but legal recognition for private choices.
WGS272 Thursday March 29th, 2012
Gay marriage privatizes gay politics. Gay politics get confined to a few policy
The appeal of the gay dollar to corporate world, gay marriage and other
legal changes – they all have made a difference in gay politics
Essentially gay marriage and neoliberalism depoliticizes privacy.
Homonationalism (see Natalie Kouri-Towe in No More Potlucks )
Homonationalism is the process where some queers (mostly upper-middle-
class and rich gay men and women) gain acceptance and status in the nation
through consumerism, economic mobility, and the securing of individual rights,
such as gay marriage.
There is a way in which queer was an atrocity to the nation
They do not reproduce
They are symbolically anti-nation
They are now considered to be part of the nation
By appealing to the rights of the individual (rather than collective rights) and
turning to the nation-state for inclusion (instead of mobilizing in opposition to
the state), we have entered into an era where some queers have gained
admission into the dominant social, political, and economic order.
Some have not become a part of the dominant social, political and
It is in this era that gays and lesbians can openly work in the military–the most
sacred institution of the nation.
This is the last sort of sacred institution that gay’s are entitled to
Good and Bad Queers
The call for inclusion is predicated on making the distinction between good
queers and bad queers. These appeals argue that most sexual minorities are
no different than members of dominant society, and thus that these
queers deserve to be recognized as part of the mainstream.
The bad queers are offered as the undesirable other to help sell the good
queers to the nation, since bad queers are dangers to society or drains on state
resources. They include racialized queers, people who are HIV-positive, poor
and homeless queers, drug users, transsexuals, non-status queer migrants,
You can’t have a good queer unless you have a bad queer
You can move from good to bad queer or vice versa
Homonationalism and Gay Imperialism
once the right kind of queers are welcomed into the state, these institutions
can use the newly admitted ‘good queers’ as evidence that symmetry
has been achieved, effectively dismissing larger concerns over the rights of
those who remain marginalized and subjugated.
Good queer is a marker of democracy that gets used against the non-
The inclusion of sexual minorities under the terms of individual rights is then
used in propaganda by the state to demonstrate how civilized, modern, liberal,
and democratic the West is, particularly in opposition to backward, pre-