chapter  7
22 Pages

‘What does it mean to sing “somewhere over the rainbow” and release balloons?’

Lesbian culture, in some ways, is the ideal forum for playing out postmodernist fantasies. Lesbians as a group tend to be highly self-conscious, being impressed by the perpetual need to make visible differences, from each other and dominant heterosexuality-this ‘performativity’ has been acknowledged as a key lesbian/gay aesthetic.4 Even on the most intimate ‘private’ level, lesbian sexual desire requires the inventive reconstruction of roles5 expressed historically in camp, or butch/femme. Urban sexual identities during the 1980s became inflected with a self-conscious irony expressed in the new fascination with parody which a post-modern aesthetic has generated. A new generation of activists rejected the categories which Lesbian and Gay Liberation proposed for the 1970s, the assimilationist cry of ‘Glad to be gay’ thought to be insufficiently radical for new times motivated by the rawness of AIDS, and the complexities of ‘fucking with gender’.6 ‘Queer’ politics

provide[d] a way of asserting desires that shatter gender identities and sexualities7

so that the parameters of discourse once more crash together and recombine. The late 1980s and 1990s has seen an enthusiasm for sexual play which transgresses coherent labels in such transvestic amalgamations as the ‘lesbian boy’, the ‘lesbian Daddy’, or the ‘dyke queen’. The ground, or essence, of sexual identity is repudiated in this performative sensibility, which perceives of the fictionality in fantasy and desire.