Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Queer Wars

I've been reading Paul Robinson's Queer Wars, the New Gay Right and Its Critics (University of Chicago Press, 2005). The book seems a little dated, in that it critiques gaycon literature from the late 90s and early 00s. The book is a very good read (if you like criticism).

Robinson examines the work of Bruce Bawer, Andrew Sullivan, Michelangelo Signorile, and Gabriel Rotello. He presents their conservative criticism of the gay scene. Robinson's book is remarkably evenhanded, well-written, but still has an interesting perspective of a gay radical, the very kind of radical that the subjects of his book criticize. He also carefully compares and contrasts the different conservative strains of his subjects (and notes, with a certain degree of relish, who despises whom).

The markers of politics, gender, and sexual conduct layout Robinson's critique of Bawer, Sullivan, Signorile, and Rotello. Where the subjects vehemently disagree with each other about their world views, Robinson makes the case that fundamentally these men present a conservative explanation about gay America.

The book is good read, and a short one. Pick it up, read it, weep. The gay experience, focused as it seems to be on marriage and the military is a far cry from the transformational experiences of Stonewall and Gay Liberation. What's scary is that a lot of what these men write is pretty close to mainstream at this point.

Robinson finishes his book with an epilogue that juxtaposes the cable series, Queer as Folk with the conservative strands in his book. It's a clever and engaging way to end his book. In Brian's character, maybe all of us gay bad boys will have our redemption. I sure hope so, because getting married and serving Uncle Sam seems like a pretty hollow experience for the gay life that I've had so far.