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By Leo Bersani

Acclaimed for his difficult, incisive, and sometimes arguable explorations of artwork, literature, and society, Leo Bersani now addresses homosexuality in the US. infrequently an afternoon is going through with out the media focusing a frequently sympathetic beam on homosexual life--and, with AIDS, on homosexual demise. homosexual performs on Broadway, monstrous publication awards to authors writing on homosexual matters, Hollywood videos with homosexual topics, homosexual and lesbian reviews at dozens of universities, brazenly homosexual columnists or even editors at nationwide mainstream courses, political leaders talking in want of homosexual rights: it sounds as if instantly the USA has eventually began to hear gay the US. nonetheless, Bersani notes, not just has homophobia grown extra virulent, yet many homosexual males and lesbians themselves are reluctant to be pointed out as homosexuals. In Homos, he reports the historic, political, and philosophical grounds for the present mistrust, in the homosexual group, of self-identifying strikes, for the paradoxical wish to be invisibly obvious. whereas acknowledging the risks of any form of team id (if you will be singled out, you will be disciplined), Bersani argues for a bolder presentation of what it capacity to be homosexual. of their justifiable suspicion of labels, homosexual males and lesbians have approximately disappeared into their very own refined information of the way they've been socially built. by means of downplaying their sexuality, gays danger self-immolation--they will soften into the stifling tradition that they had desired to contest. In his chapters on modern queer conception, on Foucault and psychoanalysis, at the politics of sadomasochism, and at the snapshot of "the homosexual outlaw" in works via Gide, Proust, and Genet, Bersani increases the fascinating danger that same-sex hope via its very nature can disrupt oppressive social orders. His marvelous idea of "homo-ness" should be of curiosity to straights in addition to gays, for it designates a style of connecting to the area embodied in, yet no longer reducible to, a sexual choice. The homosexual identification Bersani advocates is extra of a force--as such, quite cool to the modest target of social tolerance for varied lifestyles--which may end up in an enormous redefining of sociality itself, and of what we'd anticipate from human groups.

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Extra info for Homos

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Is there a specificity in homoness, or, in other terms, how is sameness different? By this question we do risk repeating the operation I’ve just criticized with nothing more than a shift in the privileged term of difference. Instead of making the privileging of difference the superior term in the homoheterosexual opposition we are simply putting it in the inferior position and replacing it with a different structure of relationality. Yet there may be no other way to resist the reduction of homosexuality to the system that 42 T H E G AY A B S E N C E would put it down.

But the council, with its nonprescriptive bias, makes no such protest, and its emphasis on the movement of HIV from “socially devalued groups” (presumably gay men) to people without power works to facilitate a socially and politically convenient view of AIDS as an immobilized epidemic. ”7 By the end of the report, HIV (which is “not a citywide disease” in New York), having been immobilized, can therefore be seen as having comparatively little impact on American society. ” Because the report appears to have been written by people who believe that the only question to be asked about a conclusion 24 T H E G AY P R E S E N C E is whether it is statistically valid, the report can remain blithely ignorant of its conclusion’s prescriptive force.

The dating of homosexuality was a momentous event because it initiated the study of how culture regulates identity. ”7 As this suggests, the most radical element in constructionist studies is to question the given or natural status of heterosexuality. ’”8 The latter would be the invention necessary to keep the always shaky construction of heterosexuality intact. Not only did homosexuals find their existence and identity within the categories from which they had been fashioned by straight society; they were also a distinctively heterosexual fantasy, the internally excluded difference that cements heterosexual identity.

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