On the Fringe: Gays and Lesbians in Politics

By David Rayside | Go to book overview

Introduction: Activist Influence and Political Context

In the state of virtual equality, gay and lesbian people are at once insiders, involved openly in government and public affairs to a degree never before achieved, and outsiders, shunned by our elected officials unless they need our money or votes in close elections. We are at once marginal and mainstream, at once assimilated and irreconcilably queer.

Urvashi Vaid, activist and writer

What is clear is that activist voices articulating gay and lesbian concerns have entered mainstream politics. Less certain, however, is the extent of the gains made in legislative and partisan politics, and the role of sexual minority networks in effecting those gains. Equally uncertain is the effect of engagement with such institutionalized politics on the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered movement itself. Such are the questions that underlie this book. This detailed exploration demonstrates that becoming a player in mainstream political processes is necessary, though costly; that making gains through them is possible, though only under very particular circumstances; and that maintaining links between political insiders and outsiders in the gay and lesbian movement is both difficult and essential.

The visibility of sexual minorities has increased beyond the wildest imaginings

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