“American Homo: Community and Perversity: by Jeffrey Escoffier— How Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual people Have Challenged and Changed Society

Escoffier, Jeffrey. “American Homo: Community and Perversity”, Verso, 2018. How Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual people Have Challenged and Changed Society Amos Lassen In ”American Homo”, Jeffrey Escoffier looks at LGBT movements across American political life, where they have had to deal with the historical tension between the homoeroticism and outbreaks of homophobia. He explores how “every new success brings about 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.” This is an exploration of sexual revolution as a process instead of singular events as well as a look at the central and formative role of LGBT struggles within that process. LGBT agency and grass-roots knowledge are necessary in order to create  the conditions for radical change.  We see the deconstructionist tradition of Foucault and Marcuse in this collection of essays and articles that  span 15 years in the author’s attempt to ‘recode’ the sociopolitical identity of gays and lesbians in contemporary American life.  The book covers such topics as sexual revolution and the politics of gay identity, the political economy of the closet, and the limits of multiculturalism, Escoffier traces the political vitality of gays and lesbians and “how that vitality challenges the traditional heterosexist political and economic hegemony.” In order to overcome the antidemocratic agenda of the far Right, gays and lesbians will have to unite with other social movements.

In the early chapters, we look at the rise of the gay movement and the increasing importance of visible sexuality in gay people’s lives. He go from there to the importance of how identity manifests itself in community and politics. 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 are important to understanding how we got to where we are.

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