glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy





social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

Gay Left  
page: 1  2  3  4  

With the advent of AIDS, the social constructionist approach to sexual behavior, championed by the Gay Left, gained a new urgency. The social approach to sexuality facilitated the ability of activists and researchers to identify the social conditions that shaped sexual conduct and the spread of HIV infection among gay men and enabled them to suggest social strategies to prevent HIV. The promulgation of safer sex was closely tied to the intellectual contributions of Gay Left thinkers, many of whom--Jeffrey Weeks, Simon Watney, and Amber Hollibaugh, for example--became AIDS activists.

The third issue that the Gay Left has addressed is the "traditional" one of the relationship of homosexuality to capitalism, social class, and the economic forms of oppression. The Gay Left has long challenged the myth that the glbtq community is an economically privileged elite. Gay left writers have explored the ways that the economy has shaped the lives of glbtq people who come from all social classes and occupations. Amy Gluckman and Betsy Reed's pioneering anthology, Homo Economics (1997), brings together many of these perspectives.

Sponsor Message.

Right-wing groups in the U.S. have opposed the civil rights of glbtq people with the argument that the glbtq community is wealthier and more prosperous than the average American family and that glbtq people are therefore in no need of any "special" civil rights to participate in the economy or have an opportunity to hold a decent job.

Conservatives made such an argument in 1996 before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Romer v. Evans, concerning an amendment to the Colorado state constitution that barred the passage of any gay and lesbian civil rights legislation. However, economist Lee Badgett and progressive activists developed the argument and the data to counter the right-wing's claim. Their argument may have been influential on the Court's majority in the historic ruling in Romer v. Evans, though conservative Associate Justice Antonin Scalia mouthed the right-wing's line in his bitter dissent when he fulminated that "those who engage in homosexual conduct tend to reside in disproportionate numbers in certain communities, have high disposable income, and . . . possess political power much greater than their numbers, both locally and statewide."

In addition, during the 1990s many large corporations developed high-powered marketing campaigns targeting glbtq communities. Many of these campaigns have promoted narrow standards of beauty, restricted social needs, and fostered a limited social expression that operates within mainstream consumerism. The Gay Left has critiqued the effects of such consumerism on glbtq communities and political tactics.

New formations on the Gay Left have also emerged to address the inequalities of income and opportunity that affect glbtq people from minority and working-class backgrounds.

While Gay Left has not had an enduring institutional presence in glbtq communities, its political and intellectual perspectives have been influential for many decades.

Jeffrey Escoffier

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3  4    

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about Social Sciences

   Related Entries
literature >> Overview:  American Writers on the Left

Most gay, lesbian, and bisexual American writers who adhered to Marxist-oriented parties and social movements between 1917 and the 1960s strove to hide their sexual orientation, and some even depicted homosexuals negatively in their fiction and drama.

social sciences >> Overview:  Cuba

Although one cannot speak of a gay community in Cuba, one can speak of a homoerotic environment for meeting and socializing in Havana that is constantly moving and reshaping itself.

social sciences >> Overview:  Cultural Identities

A growing body of scholarly and other work on Cultural Identities challenges the "naturalness," and even the political necessity, of a unitary gay and lesbian identity.

social sciences >> Overview:  Gay Rights Movement, U. S.

The U.S. gay rights movement has made significant progress toward achieving equality for glbtq Americans, and in the process has become more inclusive and diverse, but much remains to be done.

social sciences >> Overview:  Identity Politics

Not limited to activity in the traditionally conceived political sphere, identity politics refers to activism, politics, theorizing, and other similar activities based on the shared experiences of members of a specific social group, often relying on shared experiences of oppression.

social sciences >> Overview:  Lesbian Sex Wars

The lesbian "sex wars" of the 1980s, centered on issues of pornography and s/m, constituted one of the most significant debates among second-wave feminists in North America and Europe.

social sciences >> Overview:  Market Research

Over the past decade, the field of market research has developed a more complete snapshot of a highly diverse population of glbtq consumers by using newer scientific methodologies.

social sciences >> Overview:  Russia

A cultural crossroads between Asia and Europe, Russia has a long, rich, and often violent heritage of varied influences and stark confrontations in regard to its patterns of same-sex love.

social sciences >> Overview:  The Sexual Revolution, 1960-1980

The sexual revolution of post-World War II America changed sexual and gender roles profoundly.

social sciences >> Overview:  Women's Liberation Movement

The Women's Liberation Movement, which flourished during the 1970s, constitutes the largest and most widely publicized social movement of women in history.

social sciences >> Altman, Dennis

Australian political scientist and self-described "international activist-academic" Dennis Altman has studied both the glbtq political movement and the globalization of sexual identities.

literature >> Auden, W. H.

One of the most accomplished poets of the twentieth century, W. H. Auden found that his gayness led him to new insights into the universal impulse to love and enlarged his understanding of all kinds of relationships.

literature >> Carpenter, Edward

Edward Carpenter, a champion of both women's and homosexuals' liberation, was one of the great socialist visionaries of England at the turn of the twentieth century.

literature >> Duncan, Robert

Robert Duncan wrote a remarkable series of poems that deal directly with the love of men for other men.

social sciences >> Dworkin, Andrea

Controversial radical feminist and anti-pornography crusader Andrea Dworkin wrote and spoke extensively on the cultural subjugation of women.

social sciences >> Ellis, Havelock

Henry Havelock Ellis--British psychologist and writer--was one of the first modern thinkers to challenge Victorian taboos against the frank and objective discussion of sex.

literature >> Foucault, Michel

One of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century, Foucault has had an enormous influence on our understanding of the lesbian and gay literary heritage and the cultural forces surrounding it.

social sciences >> Freud, Sigmund

The founder of psychoanalysis and the discoverer of the unconscious, Sigmund Freud initiated a fundamental transformation in the self-understanding of Western men and women, including especially the role of sexuality.

social sciences >> Gay Liberation Front

Formed soon after the Stonewall Riots of 1969, the short-lived but influential Gay Liberation Front brought a new militancy to the movement that became known as gay liberation.

literature >> Gide, André

André Gide, one of the premier French writers of the twentieth century, reflected his homosexuality in many of his numerous works.

social sciences >> Goldman, Emma

An energetic political organizer, fiery radical, and a passionate free spirit, anarchist Emma Goldman outspokenly defended the rights of homosexuals.

literature >> Goodman, Paul

The candor with which the bisexual Paul Goodman wrote about the homosexual libido in his poetry and fiction made him an important and highly visible advocate of gay liberation.

social sciences >> Guérin, Daniel

French leftist Daniel Guérin came out publicly as a homosexual in his late sixties and for the remainder of his life worked to fuse gay liberation and left-wing politics.

social sciences >> Hirschfeld, Magnus

German-born Magnus Hirschfeld deserves recognition as a significant theorist of sexuality and the most prominent advocate of homosexual emancipation of his time.

literature >> Lorde, Audre

The work of African-American activist and writer Audre Lord was greatly influenced by her lesbianism.

social sciences >> Marcuse, Herbert

German-born philosopher Herbert Marcuse had an enormous influence on theories of sexual liberation, particularly in the early post-Stonewall gay movement and on the left.

social sciences >> Mattachine Society

One of the earliest American gay movement organizations, the Mattachine Society was dedicated to the cultural and political liberation of homosexuals; but in the face of McCarthyism, it adopted conservative policies of accommodationism.

literature >> Moraga, Cherríe

In her own works, Cherríe Moraga defines her experience as a Chicana lesbian; and in her capacity as editor/publisher, she provides a forum for traditionally silenced lesbians of color.

literature >> Nestle, Joan

Through her writing, teaching, editing, and activism, Joan Nestle has devoted her life to promoting awareness of glbtq culture and advancing glbtq equality.

literature >> Rich, Adrienne

Adrienne Rich, who aestheticized politics and politicized aesthetics, is America's most widely read lesbian poet.

social sciences >> Romer v. Evans

Romer v. Evans (1996) marks the first time in its history that the U. S. Supreme Court recognized lesbians and gay men as worthy and deserving of equal rights.

social sciences >> Stonewall Riots

The confrontations between police and demonstrators at the Stonewall Inn in New York City the weekend of June 27-29, 1969 mark the beginning of the modern glbtq movement for equal rights.

literature >> Symonds, John Addington

John Addington Symonds was the most daring innovator in the history of nineteenth-century British homosexual writing and consciousness.

literature >> Whitman, Walt

Celebrating an ideal of manly love in both its spiritual and physical aspects, Walt Whitman has exerted a profound and enduring influence on gay literature.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.


Altman, Dennis. Homosexual Oppression and Liberation. New York: Outerbridge & Dienstrey, 1971.

Blasius, Mark, and Shane Phelan, eds. We Are Everywhere: A Historical Sourcebook of Gay and Lesbian Politics. New York: Routledge, 1997.

D'Emilio, John. Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of the Homosexual Minority. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Duberman, Martin. Stonewall. New York: Dutton, 1993.

Duncan, Robert. "The Homosexual in Society." Come Out Fighting: A Century of Essential Writing on Gay and Lesbian Liberation. Chris Bull, ed. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2001. 19-23.

Escoffier, Jeffrey. American Homo: Community and Perversity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

_____. "Fabulous Politics: Gay, Lesbian and Queer Movements, 1969-199." The World the 60s Made: Politics and Culture in Recent America. Van Gosse and Richard Moser, eds. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003. 191-218.

_____. "The Invention of Safer Sex: Vernacular Knowledge, Gay Politics and HIV Prevention." Berkeley Journal of Sociology 43 (Spring 1999): 1-30.

_____, ed. Sexual Revolution. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003.

_____, Regina Kunzel, and Molly McGarry. "Editors' Introduction: New Visions of America's Lesbian and Gay Past." Radical History Review 62 (Spring 1995): 1-7.

Gagnon, John H., and William Simon. Sexual Conduct: The Social Sources of Human Sexuality. Chicago: Aldine, 1973.

Gay Left Collective, ed. Gay Left: A Socialist Journal Produced by Gay Men 1975-1980.

_____, ed. Homosexuality: Power and Politics. London: Allison & Busby, 1980.

Gluckman, Amy, and Betsy Reed, eds. Homo Economics: Capitalism, Community, and Lesbian and Gay Life in the United States. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Hollibaugh, Amber L. My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.

King, Richard. The Party of Eros: Radical Social Thought and the Realm of Freedom. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1972.

Kissack, Terence. "Freaking Fag Revolutionaries: New York's Gay Liberation Front, 1969-1971." Radical History Review 62 (Spring 1995): 104-134.

Marcuse, Herbert. "Political Preface 1966," Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud. Boston: Beacon Press, 1966. xi-xxv.

Mieli, Mario. Homosexuality and Liberation: Elements of a Gay Critique. London: Gay Men's Press, 1980.

Plummer, Ken, ed. The Making of the Modern Homosexual. London: Hutchinson, 1981.

Reich, Wilhelm. The Sexual Revolution. New York: Noonday, 1951.

Robinson, Paul. The Freudian Left: Wilhelm Reich, Geza Roheim, Herbert Marcuse. New York: Harper & Row, 1969.

Rowbotham, Sheila, and Jeffrey Weeks. Socialism and the New Life: The Personal and Sexual Politics of Edward Carpenter and Havelock Ellis. London: Pluto Books, 1977.

Vaid, Urvishi. Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Lesbian and Gay Liberation. New York: Anchor Books, 1995.

Weeks, Jeffrey. Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain from the Nineteenth Century to the Present. London: Quartet, 1977.

_____. Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800. London: Longman, 1981.

Wittman, Carl. "The Gay Manifesto." We Are Everywhere: A Historical Sourcebook of Gay and Lesbian Politics. Mark Blasius and Shane Phelan, eds. New York: Routledge, 1997. 380-388.


    Citation Information
    Author: Escoffier, Jeffrey  
    Entry Title: Gay Left  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated April 20, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  


This Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.