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Gay Shame

Ever since the 1969 Stonewall Riots, “gay pride” has been the rallying cry of the gay rights movement and the political force behind the emergence of the field of lesbian and gay studies. But has something been lost, forgotten, or buried beneath the drive to transform homosexuality from a perversion to a proud social identity? Have the political requirements of gay pride repressed discussion of the more uncomfortable or undignified aspects of homosexuality?

Gay Shame seeks to lift this unofficial ban on the investigation of homosexuality and shame by presenting critical work from the most vibrant frontier in contemporary queer studies. An esteemed list of contributors tackles a range of issues—questions of emotion, disreputable sexual histories, dissident gender identities, and embarrassing figures and moments in gay history—as they explore the possibility of reclaiming shame as a new, even productive, way to examine lesbian and gay culture.
Accompanied by a DVD collection of films, performances, and archival imagery, Gay Shame constitutes nothing less than a major redefinition and revitalization of the field.

408 pages | 22 halftones, 1 DVD | 6 x 9 | © 2010

Film Studies

Gay and Lesbian Studies

Gender and Sexuality


Gay Shame is an embarrassment of riches about the riches of embarrassment. As theatrical as they are theoretical, the essays collected here remind us of what we might like to forget: the powerful role of shame in gay lives, gay politics, and gay culture. Not just reflecting on shame but performing it as well, these angry, funny, sexy writings take us out of our comfort zones and put us back in touch with the queer pleasures of feeling bad.”

Joseph Litvak, Tufts University

“What has been gained and what lost in insisting that we are proud to be gay? Are we losing our outsiderhood and do we want to? These were the questions that in 2003 brought a motley group of academics, performers, and activists to Ann Arbor, the home of an increasingly vibrant queer academic community. Fractious and infuriating, lively and fun, the Gay Shame Conference fulfilled the promise of its startlingly beautiful and disturbing poster that now hangs over my desk. If you couldn’t be there you now can share in the controversies and conversations over race, disability, aesthetics, history, and more through this important book and DVD, with additional essays that enrich the conference theme.”

Esther Newton, University of Michigan

Table of Contents


Gay Shame

     Beyond Gay Pride
       David M. Halperin and Valerie Traub
     Why Gay Shame Now?
       David M. Halperin

Performing Shame

     Shame, Theatricality, and Queer Performativity: Henry James’s The Art of the Novel
       Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
     Mario Montez, For Shame
       Douglas Crimp
     White-on-White: The Overbearing Whiteness of Warhol Being
       Taro Nettleton
     Boricua Gazing: An Interview with Frances Negrón-Muntaner
       Rita Gonzalez

Spectacles of Shame
     Shame on Me
       Elisabeth Ladenson
     On the Uses of Shame and Gifts of a Bloodmobile: Musings from a Musical Queer Apprenticeship
       Nadine Hubbs
     Shame on Me, or The Naked Truth about Me and Marlene Dietrich
       David Caron
     Teaching Shame
       Ellis Hanson
     Shameful Fantasies: Cross-Gender Queer Sex in Lesbian Erotic Fiction
       Amalia Ziv
     Excluding Shame
       Leo Bersani

Disabled Shame

     Shameful Sites: Locating Queerness and Disability
       Robert McRuer
       Abby Wilkerson
     Where Is the Truth in Painting Today?
       Dylan Scholinski
       Terry Galloway
     Sex, Shame, and Disability Identity: With Reference to Mark O’Brien
       Tobin Siebers

Histories of Shame

     The Shame of Queer History/Queer Histories of Shame
       Helmut Puff
     The Shame of Gay Pride in Early AIDS Activism
       Deborah B. Gould
     Emotional Rescue
       Heather K. Love
     The Trouble with Shame
       George Chauncey
     Pleasures and Dangers of Shame
       Michael Warner
     Shamefully Gay: Documents from the Labadie Collection
       Julie Herrada and Tim Retzloff

Communities of Shame

    How Might We Create a Collectivity That We Would Want to Belong To?
      Barry D. Adam
     Scandalous Acts: The Politics of Shame among Brazilian Travesti Prostitutes
       Don Kulick and Charles Klein
     “Plunge Into Your Shame”
       Neil Bartlett
     Gay Shame and the Politics of Identity
       Jennifer Moon
     A Little Humility
       Gayle Rubin
     Enactivism: The Movie
       Dennis Allen, Jaime Hovey, and Judith Roof

On the DVD

     Totally Kickball, or The Philosophy of Activity-ism
       Emma Crandall
       Terry Galloway
     Enactivism: The Movie
       Dennis Allen, Jaime Hovey, and Judith Roof
     Nine Artworks
       Dylan Scholinski
     Shamelessly Gay: Documents from the Labadie Collection
       Julie Herrada and Tim Retzloff
     Kiko: Five Color Photographs (to accompany Ellis Hanson, “Teaching Shame”)
     Marlene Dietrich: Four Black-and-White Photographs (to accompany David Caron, “Shame on Me, or The Naked Truth about Me and Marlene Dietrich”)
     Gay Shame Conference Poster
     List of Contributors


Lambda Literary Foundation: Lambda Literary Awards

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