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Capitalism and Gay Identities

It is argued that industrial capitalism “created” gay identity and set the stage for the modern lesbian and gay movement in the United States. Although largely forgotten by social movement scholarship, it can also be argued that this relationship continues.
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Nature and Context

Different kinds of capitalism yielded different dominant understandings of gay identity held by the movement over its 70-year history: reform capitalism created a psychiatric gay identity; social contract capitalism created an “out” minority gay identity; capitalism-in-crisis created a decentered and contested gay identity; and neoliberal capitalism created a domesticated and consumerist gay identity. Rather than viewing gay identity and the movement through the prism of resources, opportunities, social networks, and social construction, the article argues that these processes are best subsumed under the broader rubric of capitalist political economy.

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