A sweeping account of the way lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have challenged and changed society
In this provocative book, Jeffrey Escoffier tracks LGBT movements across the contested terrain of American political life, where they have endured the historical tension between the homoeroticism coursing through American culture and the virulent periodic outbreaks of homophobic populism. Escoffier explores how every new success enables a new disciplinary and normalizing form of domination; only the active exercise of democratic rights and participation in radical coalitions allows LGBT people to sustain the benefits of community and the freedom of sexual perversity.
“Explores sexual revolution as a prolonged process rather than a single event, and the central and formative role of LGBT struggles within that. [Escoffier is] firmly committed to the significance of LGBT agency and grass-roots knowledge in creating the conditions for radical change. This is a landmark book that deserves to be read and re-read.”
—Jeffrey Weeks, author of What is Sexual History?
“Compelling and necessary!”
—Cirus Rinaldi, University of Palermo
“Deeply informed, conceptually potent, and essential analyses of LGBTQ histories, economics, and social life. A great deal of how I think about these things has come from his work.”
—Gayle Rubin, author Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader
“For anyone interested in the history of LGBT life, both the history of the past, and the history of what may come.”
—Samuel R. Delany, author of Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders, Dark Reflections and Times Square Red, Times Square Blue.
“In the deconstructionist tradition of Foucault and Marcuse, this collection of essays and articles by gay writer and educator Escoffier spans 15 years in the author’s attempt to ‘recode’ the sociopolitical identity of gays and lesbians in contemporary American life. Covering such topics as sexual revolution and the politics of gay identity, the political economy of the closet, and the limits of multiculturalism, the author traces the burgeoning political vitality of gays and lesbians and how that vitality challenges the traditional heterosexist political and economic hegemony. The author concludes that in order to overcome the antidemocratic agenda of the far Right, gays and lesbians will have to unite with other social movements in a Rainbow Coalition-type organization. The French intellectual tradition is very much alive in this work.”
“Escoffier’s interests mirror the enormous changes that have occurred in gay life over the past two decades. In his early chapters, he traces the rise of the gay movement and the increasing importance of visible sexuality in gay people’s lives, moving from there to the importance of how identity manifests itself in community and politics. He discusses the tensions that exist between a professionalized homosexual politic (particularly in the academy) and the more independent, community-based models of grass-roots groups such as ACT UP and Queer Nation. Escoffier is able to communicate complicated ideas in plain language, and his vision and common sense are enlightening.”
About the Author:
Jeffrey Escoffier is a Research Associate at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and the former Director of Public Health Media at the New York City Department of Health. He was the Executive Editor of Socialist Review (Berkeley) and one of the founders of OUT/ LOOK. He is also the author of a short biography of John Maynard Keynes and of Bigger than Life: The History of Gay Porn Cinema from Beefcake to Hardcore.