Queering the Nation or Normalizing the Queers? A Century of Political and Cultural Change

Drawing on historical examples as well as fictional representations in literature, cinema, theatre, television and radio, this lecture interrogates the relationship of queerness to the British nation from the Great War to the present. It documents the transition of queers from their framing as a suspect minority, a danger to the nation, to a limited tolerance for discreet, respectable, ‘genuine’ homosexuals by the mid-century, to the proliferation of queer-themed representations in recent decades alongside the rise of gay liberation and the battle over gay civil liberties. It concludes that queers in Britain have made undeniable progress, but at the cost of co-option for a homonational consensus.

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