Photo | Diana Davies, 1969
It`s time for Pride Month! A celebration of the LGBTQ+ community and remembrance of those who have paved the way for equality in the past. The LGBTQ+ community has created a legacy of unique art, music, fashion, culture, literature, etc. The wealth of LGBTQ+ literature grows every year, and a certain field of literary theory uses the lens of queer experience to add perspective to the world.
Queer theory encases the study of non normative organizations of space, time, family, bodies, relationships, etc.It gained traction in the field of academia during the tragic AIDS epidemic of the 1980`s in which the LGBTQ+ community suffered huge losses to the under researched disease. Queer theorists of the time utilized the queer lens to point out ways in which society treats persons outside of the heteronormative lifestyle with fear and rejection, and this spawned a deeper understanding of ways in which this fear presents itself in literature, film, and so much more. I will include a link for those who would like to study the origin of queer theory further:
I research queer theory in my undergraduate studies because of the deep complexity and flexibility this lens offers to a reader. It questions duality, the status quo, how to utilize uniqueness to society's advantage, and what this will look like in the future. With Pride Month in mind, I had to recommend classic queer theorists and works that are suitable for a good read or academic research.
1. The History of Sexuality - Michel Foucault, 1984
A French Theorist and Philosopher, Foucalt wrote this four volume piece on sexuality in order to dismiss the idea that the definitions of sexuality are stagnant. He surmises that sexuality lives in a perpetual shift within society. Society attempts to fit ideas of sexuality into binaries of good or bad, light or dark, etc. The truth is, these binaries cross over more often than one would think. An excellent read, this book is vital to the queer theory movement.
Link to The History of Sexuality:
2. Gender Trouble - Judith Butler, 1990
Judith Butler`s Gender Troubles is a classic queer piece on the performativity of gender (something Butler strongly developed), the identity found within this, and how performance highlights societal constructions.
Butler is well known for researching a wealth of theories such as feminism, disability studies, and most notably, post structuralism. Butler is currently a professor at U.C. California, Berkeley.
Link to Gender Troubles:
3. In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives - Jack Halberstam, 2005
Photo | Alex Woodward
My personal favorite queer theorist and read, Jack Halberstam highlights the ways in which space and time can be queer. Envisioning these elements of the world in new organizations definitely adds a deeper realm of possibility for the ways in which people, society, and the world construct themselves.
Jack Halberstam is a professor at Columbia University and has published in the realms of feminist theory, post humanism, and more.
Link to In a Queer Time and Place:
4. Goodbye Gauley Mountain - Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, 2013
Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle`s Goodbye Gauley Mountain Documentary is an Ecosexual love story of epic proportions. The power couple serves as ecosexual activists, turning queerness towards nature. To them, nature is a lover not a mother. In this documentary, they turn the world's eye on Echo-Lit`s and Beth`s home state of West Virginia. Like much of Appalachia, the state of West Virginia has been defiled and destroyed by the coal mining industry. Beth and Annie hope to save the mountains through presenting their love for nature in a queer and intriguing way.
Beth Stephens is a professor at UC, Santa Cruz and Annie Sprinkle is a sex educator, filmmaker, and artist.
Link to their Website:
Link to Goodbye Gauley Mountain:
I hope you enjoy this selection of queer theorists! It is definitely a theory that takes pushes the boundaries of what's possible and what's normal. Have you ever read queer theory before? Let me know if any of these theorists stick out to you!