Love and Money: Queers, Class, and Cultural Production

Love and Money: Queers, Class, and Cultural Production

Love and Money: Queers, Class, and Cultural Production

Love and Money: Queers, Class, and Cultural Production


Love and Money argues that we can't understand contemporary queer cultures without looking through the lens of social class. Resisting old divisions between culture and economy, identity and privilege, left and queer, recognition and redistribution, Love and Money offers supple approaches to capturing class experience and class form in and around queerness.

Contrary to familiar dismissals, not every queer television or movie character is like Will Truman on Will and Grace--rich, white, healthy, professional, detached from politics, community, and sex. Through ethnographic encounters with readers and cultural producers and such texts as Boys Don't Cry, Brokeback Mountain, By Hook or By Crook, and wedding announcements in the New York Times, Love and Money sees both queerness and class across a range of idioms and practices in everyday life. How, it asks, do readers of Dorothy Allison's novels use her work to find a queer class voice? How do gender and race broker queer class fantasy? How do independent filmmakers cross back and forth between industry and queer sectors, changing both places as they go and challenging queer ideas about bad commerce and bad taste?

With an eye to the nuances and harms of class difference in queerness and a wish to use culture to forge queer and class affinities, Love and Money returns class and its politics to the study of queer life.


Love and Money is a book of cultural critique and exploration at the crossroads of queerness and class in the United States. Through field studies and comparative criticism, it asks what difference social class makes to queer subjectivity and representation, and what difference queerness makes to class hierarchy and value. I argue that we cannot see queer cultures clearly enough when we ignore class, nor can we see contemporary class outside the production of sexual difference. Sometimes the object of this argument is commercial popular culture, long the measure of queer defilement by radical standards. Other times, its objects are the beloved texts and expressions—in film and literature—of queer independent producers and queer community audiences across class lines. Still other times, the object is radical queer critique itself, in the spirit of articulating a new critical vocabulary less bound than the ones we now use by familiar oppositions between markets and politics and thus less driven by the taste hierarchies that surface so easily in the name of commercial refusal. Love and Money argues that the rich soil of cultural production offers renewal—ways to imagine and practice solidarity that have long been present but undersung amid class antagonism in queerness and sexual-political antagonism from the American left. Class is not a purely cultural form, but culture is vital to queer class solidarity.

Love and Money starts from a romantic and by-now nostalgic view: in queerness exists the chance for social attachments and forms of belonging that might otherwise be impossible. That something about the alloy of erotic energy, social shame, new interiorities, the open smudging of private and public, shifts in psychic expectation at once gradual and dramatic, and the limits of family acceptance would impel us to social creativity. That we would find affection and strength in new places, inhabit the world across old divisions, be slow to judge and curious about modes of living beyond our own. That we would pool what few resources we had and circulate them in new ways. That we would live with new ambitions—our own but also ambitions in common, held together by the idea that any resource brings greater pleasure if it enriches the collective and doesn’t come at someone else’s expense.

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