A hard-hitting look at the regulation of sexual difference and its role in circumscribing African American culture
The sociology of race relations in America typically describes an intersection of poverty, race, and economic discrimination. But what is missing from the picture—sexual difference—can be as instructive as what is present. In this ambitious work, Roderick A. Ferguson reveals how the discourses of sexuality are used to articulate theories of racial difference in the field of sociology. He shows how canonical sociology—Gunnar Myrdal, Ernest Burgess, Robert Park, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and William Julius Wilson—has measured African Americans’s unsuitability for a liberal capitalist order in terms of their adherence to the norms of a heterosexual and patriarchal nuclear family model. In short, to the extent that African Americans’s culture and behavior deviated from those norms, they would not achieve economic and racial equality.
Aberrations in Black tells the story of canonical sociology’s regulation of sexual difference as part of its general regulation of African American culture. Ferguson places this story within other stories—the narrative of capital’s emergence and development, the histories of Marxism and revolutionary nationalism, and the novels that depict the gendered and sexual idiosyncrasies of African American culture—works by Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison. In turn, this book tries to present another story—one in which people who presumably manifest the dysfunctions of capitalism are reconsidered as indictments of the norms of state, capital, and social science. Ferguson includes the first-ever discussion of a new archival discovery—a never-published chapter of Invisible Man that deals with a gay character in a way that complicates and illuminates Ellison’s project.
Unique in the way it situates critiques of race, gender, and sexuality within analyses of cultural, economic, and epistemological formations, Ferguson’s work introduces a new mode of discourse—which Ferguson calls queer of color analysis—that helps to lay bare the mutual distortions of racial, economic, and sexual portrayals within sociology.
Jimmy Creech, a United Methodist pastor in North Carolina, was visited one morning in 1984 by Adam, a longtime parishioner whom he liked and respected. Adam said that he was gay, and that he was leaving The United Methodist Church, which had just pronounced that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” could not be ordained. He would not be part of a community that excluded him. Creech found himself instinctively supporting Adam, telling him that he was sure that God loved and accepted him as he was. Adam’s Gift is Creech’s inspiring first-person account of how that conversation transformed his life and ministry.
Adam’s visit prompted Creech to re-evaluate his belief that homosexuality was a sin, and to research the scriptural basis for the church’s position. He determined that the church was mistaken, that scriptural translations and interpretations had been botched and dangerously distorted. As a Christian, Creech came to believe that discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people was morally wrong. This understanding compelled him to perform same-gender commitment ceremonies, which conflicted with church directives. Creech was tried twice by The United Methodist Church, and, after the second trial, his ordination credentials were revoked. Adam’s Gift is a moving story and an important chapter in the unfinished struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil and human rights.
There have been few book-length engagements with the question of sexuality in Africa, let alone African homosexuality. African Intimacies simultaneously responds to the public debate on the “Africanness” of homosexuality and interrogates the meaningfulness of the terms “sexuality” and “homosexuality” outside Euro-American discourse. Speculating on cultural practices interpreted by missionaries as sodomy and resistance to colonialism, Neville Hoad begins by analyzing the 1886 Bugandan martyrs incident—the execution of thirty men in the royal court. Then, in a series of close readings, he addresses questions of race, sex, and globalization in the 1965 Wole Soyinka novel The Interpreters, examines the emblematic 1998 Lambeth conference of Anglican bishops, considers the imperial legacy in depictions of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and reveals how South African writer Phaswane Mpe’s contemporary novel Welcome to Our Hillbrow problematizes notions of African identity and cosmopolitanism.Hoad’s assessment of the historical valence of homosexuality in Africa shows how the category has served a key role in a larger story, one in which sexuality has been made in line with a vision of white Western truth, limiting an understanding of intimacy that could imagine an African universalism.Neville Hoad is assistant professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin.
Focused on the intimate effects of large-scale economic transformations, After Love illuminates the ways that everyday efforts to imagine, resist, and enact market reforms shape sexual desires and subjectivities. Anthropologist Noelle M. Stout arrived in Havana in 2002 to study the widely publicized emergence of gay tolerance in Cuba but discovered that the sex trade was dominating everyday discussions among gays, lesbians, and travestis. Largely eradicated after the Revolution, sex work, including same-sex prostitution, exploded in Havana when the island was opened to foreign tourism in the early 1990s. The booming sex trade led to unprecedented encounters between Cuban gays and lesbians, and straight male sex workers and foreign tourists. As many gay Cuban men in their thirties and forties abandoned relationships with other gay men in favor of intimacies with straight male sex workers, these bonds complicated ideas about "true love" for queer Cubans at large. From openly homophobic hustlers having sex with urban gays for room and board, to lesbians disparaging sex workers but initiating relationships with foreign men for money, to gay tourists espousing communist rhetoric while handing out Calvin Klein bikini briefs, the shifting economic terrain raised fundamental questions about the boundaries between labor and love in late-socialist Cuba.
Splashed against the tumultuous Clinton years and framed by the clash between gay political might and anti-gay activism, All the Rage presents the first authoritative guide to the new gay visibility. From the public outing of Ellen DeGeneres to the vicious murder of Matthew Shepard, gay lives and images have moved onto the center stage of American public life. Lesbians and gay men are indeed everywhere, from television sitcoms to Budweiser ads, from the White House to the Magic Kingdom. Combining personal stories with incisive analysis, Suzanna Danuta Walters chronicles this historic moment in our culture, arguing that we live in a time when gays are seen, but not necessarily known.
Many consider the new gay visibility a sign of social acceptance, while others charge that it is mere window dressing, obscuring the dogged persistence of discrimination. Walters moves beyond these positions and instead argues that these realities coexist: gays are simultaneously depicted as the sign of social decay and the chic flavor of the month. Taking on the common wisdom that visibility means progress, All the Rage maps the terrain on which gays are accepted as witty accessories in movies, gain access to political power, and yet still fall into constrictive stereotypes. Walters warns us with clarity and wit of the pitfalls of equating visibility with full integration into the fabric of American society. From the playful TV fantasies of lesbian weddings on Friends to the very real obstacles confronting gay marriage, from the award-winning comedy Will & Grace to Bible-thumping radio superhost Dr. Laura, All the Rage takes on naive celebrants and jaded naysayers alike. With a sophisticated mix of caution and optimism, it provides an illuminating guide through these exciting, controversial times.
Stephen O. Murray University of Chicago Press, 1996 Library of Congress HQ76.3.N67M87 1996 | Dewey Decimal 306.766097
American Gay is an investigation into how people have been gay or lesbian in America. Murray examines the emergence of gay and lesbian social life, the creation of lesbigay communities, and the forces of resistance that have mobilized and fostered a group identity. Murray also considers the extent to which there is a single "modern" homosexuality and the enormous range of homosexual behaviors, typifications, self-identifications and meanings.
Murray's erudite scholarship challenges prevailing assumptions about gay history and society. He questions conventional wisdom about the importance of World War II and the Stonewall riots for conceiving and challenging shared oppression. He reviews gay complicity in the repathologizing of homosexuality during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Discussing recent demands for inclusion in the "straight" institutions of marriage and the US military, he concludes that these are new forms of resistance, not attempts to assimilate. Finally, Murray examines racial and ethnic differences in self-representation and identification.
Drawing on two decades of studying gay life in North America, this tour de force of empirical documentation and social theory critically reviews what is known about the emergence, growth, and internal diversity of communities of openly gay men and lesbians. American Gay thus deepens our understanding of the ways individuals construct sexualities through working and living together.
Andy Warhol'S Blow Job
Roy Grundmann Temple University Press, 2003 Library of Congress PN1997.B6735G78 2003 | Dewey Decimal 791.4372
In this ground-breaking and provocative book, Roy Grundmann contends that Andy Warhol's notorious 1964 underground film, Blow Job, serves as rich allegory as well as suggestive metaphor for post-war American society's relation to homosexuality. Arguing that Blow Job epitomizes the highly complex position of gay invisibility and visibility, Grundmann uses the film to explore the mechanisms that constructed pre-Stonewall white gay male identity in popular culture, high art, science, and ethnography.
Grundmann draws on discourses of art history, film theory, queer studies, and cultural studies to situate Warhol's work at the nexus of Pop art, portrait painting, avant-garde film, and mainstream cinema. His close textual analysis of the film probes into its ambiguities and the ways in which viewers respond to what is and what is not on screen. Presenting rarely reproduced Warhol art and previously unpublished Ed Wallowitch photographs along with now iconic publicity shots of James Dean, Grundmann establishes Blow Job as a consummate example of Warhol's highly insightful engagement with a broad range of representational codes of gender and sexuality.
This interdisciplinary collection examines the shaping of local sexual cultures in the Asian Pacific region in order to move beyond definitions and understandings of sexuality that rely on Western assumptions. The diverse studies in AsiaPacifiQueer demonstrate convincingly that in the realm of sexualities, globalization results in creative and cultural admixture rather than a unilateral imposition of the western values and forms of sexual culture. These essays range across the Pacific Rim and encompass a variety of forms of social, cultural, and personal expression, examining sexuality through music, cinema, the media, shifts in popular rhetoric, comics and magazines, and historical studies. By investigating complex processes of localization, interregional borrowing, and hybridization, the contributors underscore the mutual transformation of gender and sexuality in both Asian Pacific and Western cultures.
Contributors are Ronald Baytan, J. Neil C. Garcia, Kam Yip Lo Lucetta, Song Hwee Lim, J. Darren Mackintosh, Claire Maree, Jin-Hyung Park, Teri Silvio, Megan Sinnott, Yik Koon Teh, Carmen Ka Man Tong, James Welker, Heather Worth, and Audrey Yue.
The right of same-sex couples to marry provoked decades of intense conflict before it was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. Yet some of the most divisive contests shaping the quest for marriage equality occurred not on the culture-war front lines but within the ranks of LGBTQ advocates. Nathaniel Frank tells the dramatic story of how an idea that once seemed unfathomable—and for many gays and lesbians undesirable—became a legal and moral right in just half a century.
Awakening begins in the 1950s, when millions of gays and lesbians were afraid to come out, let alone fight for equality. Across the social upheavals of the next two decades, a gay rights movement emerged with the rising awareness of the equal dignity of same-sex love. A cadre of LGBTQ lawyers soon began to focus on legal recognition for same-sex couples, if not yet on marriage itself. It was only after being pushed by a small set of committed lawyers and grassroots activists that established movement groups created a successful strategy to win marriage in the courts.
Marriage equality proponents then had to win over members of their own LGBTQ community who declined to make marriage a priority, while seeking to rein in others who charged ahead heedless of their carefully laid plans. All the while, they had to fight against virulent antigay opponents and capture the American center by spreading the simple message that love is love, ultimately propelling the LGBTQ community—and America—immeasurably closer to justice.