On Making Sense: Queer Race Narratives of Intelligibility

On Making Sense: Queer Race Narratives of Intelligibility

On Making Sense: Queer Race Narratives of Intelligibility

On Making Sense: Queer Race Narratives of Intelligibility

Synopsis

On Making Sense juxtaposes texts produced by black, Latino, and Asian queer writers and artists to understand how knowledge is acquired and produced in contexts of racial and gender oppression. From James Baldwin's 1960s novel Another Country to Margaret Cho's turn-of-the-century stand-up comedy, these works all exhibit a preoccupation with intelligibility, or the labor of making sense of oneself and of making sense to others. In their efforts to "make sense," these writers and artists argue against merely being accepted by society on society's terms, but articulate a desire to confront epistemic injustice-an injustice that affects people in their capacity as knowers and as communities worthy of being known.

The book speaks directly to critical developments in feminist and queer studies, including the growing ambivalence to antirealist theories of identity and knowledge. In so doing, it draws on decolonial and realist theory to offer a new framework to understand queer writers and artists of color as dynamic social theorists.

Excerpt

“AGAINST OBSESSIVE FUCK COUNTING”

In 2003, one of the largest nonprofit AIDS services organizations in the United States, AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), placed itself in a precarious position regarding conservative funding streams by departing from HIV prevention models grounded solely in the empirical social sciences and launching a provocative, sex-positive cultural journal as an alternative method of HIV prevention. This journal, called Corpus, focused on writings and artwork devoted to gay sex primarily from the perspectives of men of color, and it was spearheaded by three gay Latino intellectuals: a trained clinical psychologist (George Ayala), a writer (Jaime Cortez), and an artist (Patrick “Pato” Hebert). Rather than understand gay sex from the perspective of epidemiologists and government officials as “a problem to be solved or behavior to be quantified,” Corpus understood gay sex (and gay male life) as a “platform from which to launch more sophisticated and nuanced explorations of desire, pleasure, culture, HIV and the challenges of living with multiplicity.” Ayala, APLA’s then director of education, notes that the motivation behind this shift was to address the decreasing salience of HIV prevention campaigns at the turn of the twenty-first century for gay men. This decrease was attributable not only to an outreach agenda that was overly generic . . .

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