Queer Externalities

Hazardous Encounters in American Culture

By W. C. Harris

Subjects: Lesbian / Gay Studies, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies
Series: SUNY series in Queer Politics and Cultures
Paperback : 9781438427522, 261 pages, September 2009
Hardcover : 9781438427515, 261 pages, September 2009

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Table of contents

Introduction: A Hazard of Queer Fortunes
1 At the End of the Rainbow: Q-topian Literature and the Lure of Apolitical Identities
2 “In my day it used to be called a limp wrist”: Flip-Floppers, Nelly Boys, and Homophobic Political Rhetoric
3 Queer Eye on the Prize: Homo Hands and the Activism of Camping
4 Broke(n)back Faggots: Hollywood Gives Queers a Hobson’s Choice
5 The IMs Are Coming from Inside the House: Recruitment, the Closet, and the Right
Conclusion: Like a Faggot from the Ashes
Works Cited

Provocative take on the negative effects of increasing queer visibility and assimilation on the lives of queer people and politics in the U. S.


In television shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and movies like Brokeback Mountain, as well as gay young adult novels and other media coverage of queer people—including the outing of several prominent Republicans—queer lives are becoming more visible in the media and in U. S. culture more generally. How does the increasing visibility of queer subjects within mainstream culture affect possibilities for radical and transformative queer activism? Provocative and challenging, W. C. Harris argues that rather than simply being a cause for celebration, this "mainstreaming" of queer lives may have as many negative effects as positive ones for contemporary gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Harris builds on the work of queer and political theorists such as Eve Sedgwick, David Halperin, Michael Warner, and Wendy Brown to examine the side effects that can be generated when queers assimilate, and argues for a reinvigorated queer essentialism in order to claim a separate and visible political and activist space within U. S. culture.

W. C. Harris is Associate Professor of English at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and also author of E Pluribus Unum: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Constitutional Paradox.


"Queer Externalities is everything a queer intervention should be: gutsy, irreverent, and thoroughly enjoyable! W. C. Harris never fails to surprise, provoke, and entertain. " — Donald E. Hall, author of Reading Sexualities: Hermeneutic Theory and the Future of Queer Studies

"Harris's thesis is significant and important, covering ground often ignored in other volumes of queer studies. Readers also interested in U. S. history in general, as well as pop culture and queer lit, would find this volume invaluable. Dealing with current, relevant topics, this engaging book ranges gracefully from Anita Bryant to instant messaging. " — Jim Elledge, author of A History of My Tattoo