Intervention: (Re)Articulating LGBT Social-Movement by Margaret MacGregor Werner

By Margaret MacGregor Werner

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A butch dyke 59 was the first to fight back by throwing a punch at an officer (Kennedy and Davis 378). 13 It was then that “mêlée broke out in several directions and mounted in intensity. ’ One queen mashed an officer with her heel, knocked him down, grabbed his handcuff keys, freed herself, and passed the keys to another queen behind her” (19697). Over the next few days, thousands of LGBT people came to the Stonewall Inn. The clashes with the police continued. While the scene at the Inn finally calmed down, the feelings of anger and militancy among many LGBT people didn’t.

Because rhetoric is always dependent on the available means of persuasion, it’s critical to assess what options were realistically available to homophile activists in the mid-twentieth century when homosexuality existed in a liminal space between mental illness and moral failing. Before radical activism could happen, homosexual people had to first rearticulate their identities in ways that would allow for such activism.

Rather than usher in a new day of inclusion, the normalization of the movement—particularly the focus on marriage—has resulted in a flurry of state-level constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. Despite some significant political gains, I argue that normalizing LGBT people has led, not to equal rights in US democracy, but to equal participation in US capitalism as LGBT people have been increasingly targeted as a consumer group. Thus normalization, rather than being a path 57 to equality has only served to shore up capitalist hegemony by bringing LGBT people into the marketplace.

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