Some activists and theorists in the field of gender and sexuality have partly or wholly abandoned the designation LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and instead write and organise under the banner of “queer”. Queer theory and politics originated in the 1990s and continue to be influential today. Many books are written from this perspective, and they inform university courses—Leeds University, for example, offers an MA in Gender, Sexuality and Queer Theory. More importantly, many of the most radical LGBT people identify as queer and adopt this approach to political organising: the last year, for example, has seen the establishment in London of UK Uncut-style group Queer Resistance, and of the trade unionist group Queers Against the Cuts. This article traces the development of queer theory and politics, and assesses their claim to provide a radical alternative to what they see as the LGBT mainstream.
Very long read, but a fascinating look into Marxism, queer theory, identity politics, Foucault, and the current state of LGBT and class politics.
Hampstead Heath, in leafy north London, is proud of its walk-on part in the history of Marxism. It was here, on a Sunday, that Karl Marx would walk his family up Parliament Hill, reciting Shakespeare and Schiller along the way, for an afternoon of picnics and poetry. On a weekday, he would join his friend Friedrich Engels, who lived close by, for a brisk hike around the heath, where the “old Londoners”, as they were known, mulled over the Paris Commune, the Second International and the nature of capitalism.
Today, on a side road leading off from the heath, the Marxist ambition remains alive in the house of Eric Hobsbawm. Born in 1917 (in Alexandria, under the British protectorate of Egypt), more than 20 years after both Marx and Engels had died, he knew neither man personally, of course. But talking to Eric in his airy front room, filled with family photos, academic honours and a lifetime of cultural objets, there is an almost tangible sense of connection to the men and their memory.