cover image Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market

Selling Out: The Gay and Lesbian Movement Goes to Market

Alexandra Chasin. Palgrave MacMillan, $27.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-21449-4

Is it possible to have a meaningful revolution in the middle of a capitalist spending frenzy? This, Chasin contends, is the central question facing the gay rights movement. In a passionate, if ultimately utopian, analysis of gay politics, Chasin asserts that the creation of a gay-oriented consumer market--in tandem with the mainstreaming of a gay politic that disavows broad-based coalitions with women and people of color--has prevented homosexuals from pursuing a more radical vision of social change. Although the movement has brought same-sex marriage and gays in the military into public debate, it has not promoted a comprehensive vision that would ""provide all people with access to the full range of social institutions, over and above the equal right to them."" Chasin, who has taught at Yale University, is terrific on the specifics: she notes the way recent gay-targeted ads evoke images of assimilation and national identity by using the U.S. flag or the Statue of Liberty, and she points out that advertising and magazine copy often create the impression of an all-white, predominately gay male community, while hypersexualizing the few images of racial minorities. Likewise, she deftly assesses how the contemporary marketing of gay culture resonates with the way consumption has historically contributed to ethnic identities. But while her arguments are capable, they often feel overintellectualized and don't always adequately account for the myriad contradictions inherent in struggling for social justice under the constraints of capitalism. Agent: Malaga Baldi. (Apr.)