chapter  4
33 Pages

The Gay Rights Movement, and the Making of a Minority Identity

WithStephen Valocchi

Chapter 4 analyzes the second “moment” of the movement in the United States: the gay rights movement and its embrace of an “out” minority identity. In this period from roughly 1971 to 1982, the movement sought to replace the secret psychiatric subject of the homophile movement, which specialized in role segmentation and dissembling with the “political” and “out” gay subject who embraced her/his homosexuality as a core component of self and integrated the “homosexual role” into all other aspects of one’s identity. It also utilized the (state-mediated) discourse of the African American civil rights movement to argue for its minority-like status. The chapter argues that these features were outcomes of the postwar economic prosperity underwritten by large corporations, labor unions and the state, referred to as the period of the social contract. Social contract capitalism enabled prosperity but also “encouraged” soul-searching on the part of the prosperous middle class. These processes ultimately led to a segment of that middle class to assert its “gay” identity in visible and political ways.