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RESISTANCE AND RESURGENCE: QUEER LIBERATION IN CANADA NICK MULÉ, PHD “AFTER HOMOSEXUAL: THE LEGACY OF GAY LIBERATION” CONFERENCE MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA.

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Presentation on theme: "RESISTANCE AND RESURGENCE: QUEER LIBERATION IN CANADA NICK MULÉ, PHD “AFTER HOMOSEXUAL: THE LEGACY OF GAY LIBERATION” CONFERENCE MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA."— Presentation transcript:

1 RESISTANCE AND RESURGENCE: QUEER LIBERATION IN CANADA NICK MULÉ, PHD “AFTER HOMOSEXUAL: THE LEGACY OF GAY LIBERATION” CONFERENCE MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA FEBRUARY 4, 2012

2 PRESENTATION OVERVIEW  1971: Altman’s Publication; ‘We Demand’ Manifesto in Canada  Canadian Landscape: LGBT Politics  Queer Liberation Theory Project  Gay Liberation to Queer Liberation: Evolving Definitions:  Altman Definition  Warner Definition  Mulé Definition  Emerging Principles and Tenets  Queer Liberation Theory in Development  Challenges to Queer Liberation  Importance of Queer Liberation Today

3 1971: ALTMAN’S PUBLICATION; ‘WE DEMAND’ MANIFESTO IN CANADA  1971 Altman releases the seminal work: Homosexuality: Oppression and Liberation  1971 first public protests by lesbian and gay Canadians  Ten demands (We Demand Manifesto contextually premised on the amendment of the Criminal Code two years previous decriminalizing homosexuality  Most of the demands sought legal equality of ‘homosexuals’  Inclusive non-discriminatory, anti-oppression approach (Demand 10.)  Underscored by gay liberationist principles still relevant today

4 CANADIAN LANDSCAPE: LGBT POLITICS  A few national single-issue political LGBT organizations  Multi-issue national political organization Egale heavily based on rights-claims equality  Few province/terrritory-wide political LGBT organizations  Focus of this paper on past work of CLGRO and current work of Queer Ontario

5 QUEER LIBERATION THEORY PROJECT  Resurrect the principles of the historical gay liberation movement  Re-contextualize them within contemporary queer discourse  Translate the findings in theoretical terms  Dissemination through various accessible multimedia platforms  Raise queer liberationist voice and public education

6 GAY LIBERATION TO QUEER LIBERATION: EVOLVING DEFINITIONS 1 Dennis Altman (1971) Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation: “Gay liberation is part of a much wider movement that is challenging the basic cultural norms of our advanced industrial, capitalist and bureaucratic society and bringing about changes in individual consciousness and new identities and life styles. It is a movement that is political, not in the traditional way that we have used that word, but because it challenges the very definitions and demarcations that society has created. In many ways the argument between the ‘political’ and the ‘cultural’ revolutionaries is a false one; gay liberation, like the other sexual liberation movements, is in the long tradition of romantics and existentialists in its insistence that politics and culture merge into one…Gay liberation is both an affirmation of the right to live as we choose and an intent to extend that right to others” – p. 223.

7 GAY LIBERATION TO QUEER LIBERATION: EVOLVING DEFINITIONS 2 Tom Warner (2002) Never Going Back: A History of Lesbian and Gay Activism in Canada: “It [gay liberation] means recognizing and fighting against the cultural conventions that reinforce and perpetuate inequities of power. Lesbian and gay liberation requires opposing the repression of sexuality and combating sexual stereotyping, sexism, heterosexual supremacy, violence, hatred, bigotry, and hypocrisy. It is based on an analysis of how and why gays and lesbians individually and as a group are oppressed.” – p. 8.

8 GAY LIBERATION TO QUEER LIBERATION: EVOLVING DEFINITIONS 3 Nick Mulé (2010) Queer Ontario Website: “A critical queer liberation perspective engages in a process of questioning, resisting and challenging. Resistance to heteronormative socialization and conditioning – a movement towards assimilationism to gain acceptance and respectability – is rejected. Challenged are the hegemonic notions that heterosexuality and traditional gender identities and roles are the norm. Queer liberation calls for the creation of a society that is inclusive, respectful and accepting of the gender and sexually diverse populations, as these populations choose to define themselves and live their lives.”

9 EMERGING PRINCIPLES AND TENETS  Liberation movements (black, women’s, gay liberation) are not an act unto themselves only, but to benefit broader society  An assertion of one’s self-defined sexuality in the face of heteronormative hegemony  Identity politics are recognized as a tensioned necessity  Conflation of politics and culture acknowledges the importance of equality and legal rights, as a means to an end, but not an end in its own right  Using positive power (‘gay power’) to counteract negative power (discrimination, oppressive norms)  The right to live our lives as we choose

10 QUEER LIBERATION THEORY IN DEVELOPMENT LGBTT2-SIQ Gender & Sexual Diversity Critical Political Stance Queer Coming Out Public Assertion Identity Politics Identity Activism Rights Claims Legal Justice Social Justice Politics - Culture Positive Power Individual Agency Collective Agency Live Counter Culturally Power & Agency Intersectionality Coalition Building Social Reform Macro Impact

11 CHALLENGES TO QUEER LIBERATION  Insideousness of neo-liberalism has seeped into the LGBT movement  Rights claims, assimilationism, capitalism are increasingly replacing social justice, diversity and community  ‘Professionalization’ of activist organizations  Radical voice of dissension a threat to mainstream and LGBT communities  Growing divide between progressive queers and mainstreaming LGBTs

12 IMPORTANCE OF QUEER LIBERATION TODAY  Challenge limitations of equality and its marginalizing effects  Create a counterculture that rejects assimilationism and celebrates diversity instead  See through the insidiousness of neoliberalism and contest its effects  Updating gay liberation into a queer liberation reality furthers a change-based agenda  Essential to a queer liberation ethos is a critical perspective that is reflexive in nature  Queer liberation is about preserving our uniqueness, using it to contribute to society’s growth and encouraging more and more diversity

13 CONTACT: Nick Mulé, PhD Associate Professor School of Social Work Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies York University


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