Condom Over Knife - Sasha Kurmaz - 2010 = Homonormativity

Richard McDonald on Homonormativity

In our first issue Richard McDonald asserts, simply, that

The ‘good life’ is a capitalist one.

From this position, he examines what happens when gay men are inducted into this good life through victories (marriage equality) and greater acceptance:

Gay (white, cis) men are now protected as members of the productive economy, able to buy into the dynamic of cruel optimism that lives in the image of the nuclear family: the stable job, the high wage, the relationship founded on marriage, the children born in wedlock, and so forth. This signals a momentous shift away from the radical rethinkings of kinship once so dear to gay men. As capitalism offers us a tool with which to carve out a space for ourselves in mainstream society, it tempts us to leave behind the radical aspects of gayness and queerness that it finds distasteful. When the dust settles, and your space is carved out, the template of sexual identity you have left is a very strict one. It represents a new wave of homosexual normality: the ‘homonormative’ template.

In his essay, Richard – with easy humour and a grasp of jargon – illustrates the pitfalls of ‘homonormativity’, that is, gay normality: the apparently fresh feeling that there is a good way to be gay, a normal way to be gay, which is set against, and above, ‘transgressive’ forms of gayness. Though he never discounts the work and struggle to reach this – and why shouldn’t there be gay Tories, gay capitalists, gay members of the NRA – he laments the fact, and it is lamentable, that with the exit of the most privileged members from the gay community, it’s campaigns will, inevitably, be less powerful, leaving those outside the new normal behind.

– Jago Rackham

Read Richard’s article in full in issue 1, subscribe and support our Kickstarter here.

Image Sasha Kurmaz, 2010. Sasha’s photos are also featured in issue 1.