Lammy Spotlight: “Acts of Gaiety”

by Phillip Witteveen on March 13, 2013

Sara Warner’s Acts of Gaiety: LGBT Performance and the Politics of Pleasure is our second finalist in the running for the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards. Competing in the LGBT studies category, Acts of Gaiety reexamines the history of lesbian and feminist history, focusing on a central joie de vivre where it manifests itself in the theater and political agenda of the LGBT community. Beginning with the Valerie Solanas’ emergence  from early lesbian-feminist activism in the mid 1960s, Warner follows the spirit of performance that sustains the gay rights movement all the way to the present day, with modern artists such as Diane DiMassa (creator of Hothead Paisan, Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist), Bitch & Animal, and the Five Lesbian Brothers. Warner proposes that gaiety, which has become devalued in modern queer theory, was and still should be recognized as “the centrality of liveliness to queer performance and protest”.

In her Preface, Warner writes, “I argue here that homo-liberalism’s precipitous rise in the United States is fueled by the increasing influence of LGBT communities’ individualizing and monetizing precepts, a condition buttressed by two interlinked forces: the mainstreaming of homosexuality and queer theorists’ amnesiac relation to gay history and lesbian feminist structures of feeling. This book examines alternate relations of affects and desires dissonant to neoliberal values, disciplinary regimes of the nation-state, and the circulation of capital. It asks how, and under what conditions, a renewed investment in gaiety might subtend the profound structural inequalities, economic disparities, and sobering images of sexual hegemony that accompany the normalization of lesbian and gay lives.”

Read Acts of Gaiety,and watch for the Lambda Literary Award announcements in June!

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