The Life and Death of Modern Homosexuality

Ben Miller at The Baffler:

While some academics (like John Boswell and Terry Castle) spent years arguing, with ever-decreasing success, that something like the contemporary “gay” or “lesbian” had always existed in relatively similar ways, “constructionist” models like those offered by Foucault and D’Emilio have become dominant in today’s academic histories about gay, lesbian, and trans lives. In the mainstream, however, it’s almost the reverse. If in the 1970s and 1980s there was a vibrant public activist culture in which both Queer History One and Two were debated, today most gay and lesbian people firmly rely on the former. The wages of nationalism are generous, and Queer History One’s story—you have always existed, you have dignity because you are like Great Men/Women—has proven to be an easier position from which to argue for the dispensation of civil rights and protections from the state. It’s unsurprising that this has become the mass-market narrative about homosexuality in the contemporary West: we’re born this way, and we always have been. Recognize us, and we’ll marry, pay taxes, and serve in the military.

more here.